I confess that the photo above, showing homemade vegetable soup and homemade cheese & chive scones is from a few years ago as we’ve not yet eaten the vegetable soup I made today – that is for our supper this evening. Furthermore, I’ve not made any scones but we will have granary bread.
Vegetable soup is the easiest to make, but it’s the soup which – well, by this method – takes the longest to cook. This soup needs long, slow cooking, the longer the better, at least two if not three hours on a low heat.
I start with the largest saucepan I have and fill it to around half way with boiling water. I then investigate what vegetables I have in the fridge but, as I’ve said before, while you can ‘use up’ veggies which are past their best, you will have a much better soup from fresh veggies. Common sense, really, although as I’ve also said before there is no such thing as common sense otherwise it would be common to all, when clearly it’s not!
I then chopped up two large onions and added them to the water. There is no saute-ing in this soup, no oil is required, so it’s extra-healthy. I then peeled and chopped what I had in the fridge:
three sticks of celery (plus the celery leaf tops)
two trimmed leeks (sliced, not chopped)
2 large carrots
2 small white turnips
1 medium parsnip
1 courgette (zucchini)
1 de-seeded red pepper
1/4 of a small Savoy cabbage (finely shredded)
After adding all these to the water, I then added 5 vegetable Oxo cubes (crumbled), salt and pepper to taste, about a heaped teaspoon dried Oregano, and a dessert spoon or thereabouts of tomato puree. I allowed this to simmer for a couple of hours and then added a handful of Basmati wholemeal rice and a drained and rinsed can of haricot beans. I then allowed it to simmer for a further hour. It is now switched off but the residual heat in this soup will allow the vegetable to continue to soften. This will make an excellent supper, a meal in itself, with granary bread and perhaps some grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese on top. There will be sufficient here for three meals for the two of us, I will freeze what we don’t eat this evening.
What is also lovely about vegetable soup is its bright colour, it’s cheering to see.
As well as soup, we have a good selection of fruit at the moment and although I keep most fruit in the fridge until the day before we think we will require it, some fruit is on the kitchen table, it’s just such a cheerful sight.
Indeed, at this time of the year we need all the colour we can get, I think (today has been a very dull, rainy, cold day.) At last, the tulips I bought last Friday have opened up and look amazing. One flower, though, keeled over. Perhaps there was an airlock in the stem and I saw this too late to prick the stem close to the flower with a pin, so I’m afraid that one was removed.
Another hint of lovely summer salads to come is a new pot of fresh Basil on the windowsill. I love both the scent and the taste of Basil, and although I do manage to keep a plant for a few weeks, there comes a time, especially in winter, when the flavour and scent isn’t as strong as when it was new, and so a replacement plant is required (these pots of Basil aren’t actually rooted plants although they might look like they are, so it’s a miracle that, even with watering, they last a month or more. I take if off the windowsill at night so it doesn’t get cold.
I think herbs such as Basil are as attractive as house plants and, what is more, you can eat them! In other pot I have parsley, but that now needs replacing – I should’ve bought one with the Basil yesterday.
I had a rather nice surprise yesterday. A dear friend, a person I’ve known since school days, sent me a book. It’s lovely to receive a present, isn’t it, when it’s not a birthday or Christmas?
I have read one of Tracy Chevalier’s books, but not this one. I hope I shall enjoy it even though the subject matter is an uncomfortable one: the slave trade and how some people did their best to rescue slaves in the south of America so that they could escape to the northern states and even beyond to Canada.
One of the things I enjoy (particularly at this time of the year when I sometimes feel almost too tired to give a book – novel or non-fiction – my full attention) is to arm myself (literally, sometimes) with a pile of my magazines, and leaf through them, enjoying them all over again. If I go back a few years they almost seem like new magazines. I did this yesterday and spent a rather nice time looking through several copies of The English Home for 2016 and 2017.
And what could be nicer than looking through a pile of magazines on a cold winter’s afternoon, cosy and warm by the fireside, and with a bar of delicious chocolate. I have been sampling various new flavours by Green & Black recently, but the last one with raspberry really wasn’t up to snuff, and so I’ve returned to one of my favourite chocolate producers, Lindt, and one of the flavours which goes so well with chocolate … orange.
I only have two squares a day, this bar should last the best part of a week, but oh, such lovely chocolate. It really is worth spending a bit extra on quality chocolate; you really don’t need much of it to enjoy an intense, rich, chocolate flavour. My vote, as with most things, goes for quality over quantity.
And yesterday evening was the conclusion of the ITV 6-part drama, Girlfriends. It was a totally ridiculous story, but with actors of the quality of Miranda Richardson, Zoe Wanamaker, and Phyllis Logan (housekeeper, Mrs Hughes of Downton Abbey) it was extremely watchable; it kept us on the edge of our seats (metaphorically speaking, of course!) wondering what dreadful thing was going to happen next and how the three friends would wriggle out of yet another awkward situation which, thus far, had involved: a criminal son who has been ‘tagged’ and under curfew, an elderly mother with dementia, a lover who suffers a heart attack, a son who is gay but has two children with two different mothers and has set up a menage a quatre with the two women, the children and his boyfriend, and if all that wasn’t sufficient to keep you wondering what was going to happen next, one of the friends murders her husband by pushing him overboard while on a cruise holiday! As I say, totally bonkers, but oh, so very entertaining!
Now, to lay the table for supper and warm up the soup,
Until next time.