A Soup Kitchen

Funny weekend on the cooking front – Battenburg Towers was the venue for the Naughty Habits Speakeasy@ the Nunnery. It was a great evening, with lovely people, lots of dancing, plentiful supplies of illicit hooch and money changing hands at the poker & roulette tables. What it didn’t involve was any cooking by me. Which clearly went against the grain, but I decided a relaxed approach would make for a more convivial evening from my point of view. So thank you to Costco for some fine cheeses and salty snacks and to @ChrisKitch_ for a gorgeous birthday cake.

Obviously I felt a bit bereft after spending all Saturday not cooking, so after much tidying up I sent Mr B out for a chicken and made this pie – recipe by Felicity Cloake. 

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/jan/16/how-to-cook-perfect-chicken-pie

She’s right – it was perfect. Good old-fashioned comfort food for people who may have partaken of slightly too much of the liquid refreshment at the Speakeasy.

I had sensibly booked the afternoon off on Monday, but instead of finishing the sorting out of the house, I tackled yet another set of leftovers. Soup, soup and more soup. A note about soup – the quantities are very flexible in my experience and variations usually work fine!

Left over baby tomato soup with a hint of lemon and tarragon (left over from the chicken pie) is now in the freezer. The tomatoes don’t need to be baby ones, but that’s what I had. I chucked in a couple of big ones too:

knob of butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stick celery, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

700g tomatoes, skinned (optional) and chopped

2 tbsps tomato puree

1 bay leaf

2 tbsps tarragon, chopped

1 litre chicken stock

1 tsp sugar

1 strip lemon rind

Heat the butter and oil, add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook gently until soft but not brown.

Add the tomatoes, tomato puree bay leaf, tarragon, stock, sugar and lemon rind. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and lemon, then blend until smooth. Season to taste.

Looking forward to defrosting that one 🙂

And there was a lot of stilton left, some of which has gone into this tasty broccoli and stilton soup

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This week I also finished off the last portion of butternut squash soup that I made to keep us all going during Speakeasy preparations. This was a very simple soup, turned into something rather special by the addition of some crispy lardons and sage.

50g butter

2 medium onions

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 large butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped

100g pancetta

1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock or water

single cream

handful of sage leaves, roughly chopped

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the onions, garlic and squash. Sweat the vegetables for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the stock, bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the squash is soft. Blend until smooth.

When ready to serve, fry the pancetta until crispy, add the sage and fry for a minute. Serve with a drizzle of cream and a spoonful of the pancetta and sage. Gorgeous!!

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Will be reporting on solid food again soon!

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