Because making anything more ambitious is beyond me right now.
There’s a recipe of the same name already, but this is substantially different, hence the “Alternative version”. Eat with good bread or, for a change, crackers, for a decent protein hit. Crumbling crackers into soup is very much an American habit that popped up in the UK with the introduction of Saltines (late 50s, early 60s if memory serves), which then vanished. You can buy them again (try Amazon), but the price is absurd (in excess of £6 per 1lb box). Try Krackawheat instead. They never seem to be truly fresh and crisp these days, but are fine broken up and tossed into a bowl of soup and eaten while they still have some crunch.
If I eat bread with soup it knocks me out, literally. Crackers, though, don’t have that effect. Still wheat (OK, Krackawheat have rye too, but I often have Ritz, or even grissini), and still carbs, but no ill-effects,
I mentioned yesterday that there’s a gaping hole in my memory where a recipe should be, and as time passes I’m becoming aware of what seem to be more holes. I say “seem to be” because, obviously, I’ve no idea what, if anything, I’ve forgotten – it’s just an uneasy feeling that I have forgotten something.
So I’ve just started a pot of soup, without notes and I’m going to write it up when I’m finished, without nipping back into the kitchen to check on it. Then I’ll check, to see if I’m worrying about nothing or whether I really do have a problem. I’ve started typing words backwards, too – usually a sign of an incipient ME meltdown.
Spicy Vegetable Soup (Alternative version).
As always, this is a freehand soup in that very little is weighed or measured (when cooking just for myself, I weigh and measure nothing, nor do I time anything, I just let my autopilot take over; it yields surprisingly consistent results**). I realise this is no help at all to many of my readers, so I try to give quantities where possible. Feel free to regard these as infinitely flexible – a starting point. Just remember the basic rule – when it comes to seasonings and flavourings you can always add more – you can’t take it out.
**Probably because I’ve been cooking for 60 years. That’s not intended to be as smug as it might seem – I mention it simply because a lot of guys of my generation can’t even boil water without burning it. A lot of those years are lost to brain fog (and latterly, pain fog, too – neither pain nor morphine aid concentration), but cooking skills, learned decades prior to the onset of serious illness, have stayed with me. Computer skills, very much concurrent with illness, are strange. If I let my autopilot run I’m fine – if I attempt to think about what I’m doing I run up against a blank wall. That might be what’s happened with the missing recipe, though giving my autopilot its head still comes up blank.
6 or 8 Echalion Shallots, depending on size, halved lengthways and finely sliced
4 plump Sweet Spear carrots, halved lengthways and sliced (pound-coin thick). If the carrots are spindly, as they often are, use more, and if they’re very thin, don’t bother cutting them in half – see note at the end of the page re these and shallots
Swede, in small dice, about the same amount
40g fat. I had some rendered pork fat from a previous recipe (rendered beef fat will do too). If you have neither then use clarified butter (or 30g ordinary butter and a splash of olive oil)
2 generous tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 Kallo organic veg cubes
1Kallo organic beef cube (for a veggie version replace with 2 teaspoons Marigold)
1 teaspoon Schwartz celery salt
2 teaspoons garlic granules
A handful of dried leeks (white parts), finely chopped (optional). Added just to see if they contribute anything worthwhile to the soup – feel free to ignore if, as is likely, you don’t have any.
1 tablespoon dried coriander leaf
600g precooked beans (I have cannellini), or 3 cans, drained and rinsed
250g frozen peas, cooked in unsalted water (add a little of the pea-flavoured water to the pot with the peas)
2 500g packs Napolina passata
2 teaspoons sugar
Knorr Touch of Taste Beef, or Vegetable for a veggie version, to taste
Marigold (optional), to taste
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and Schwartz fine black pepper, to taste
More dried and ground coriander, as below (optional, but worthwhile)
Sweat off the shallots in the melted butter until soft, then stir in the paprika and ground coriander. Mix well, then push the Kallo stock cubes in among it and leave to cook out for 10 minutes, during which time the stock cubes will become very soft.
After 10 minutes, stir the stock cubes into the shallot and spice mixture – they’ll mix in easily – add the carrots and swede, plus everything else down to, and including, the dried coriander leaf, and enough boiling water to cover. Stir well, bring to the boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer until the carrots and swede are almost soft, then add the beans, peas, passata and sugar.
Stir, bring to the boil, reduce again and simmer for half an hour.
Taste for flavour and seasoning (always adjust the flavour first, if it needs it, as then you’ll need less seasoning**). Return to the heat for 10 minutes to cook out, stir in another tablespoon of dried coriander and a teaspoon or two of ground – just to perk it up (or not, as you wish – I always do though), then remove from the heat and allow to go cold.
**Which explains my interest in dehydration and, ultimately, vegetable powders – so I can add flavour without adding salt.
Once cold, refrigerate overnight to allow the flavours to snuggle up in the dark – you’ll thank them for it – and you’re done.
And so am I. My memory seems to be just fine, if this one check can be trusted, and yet the recipe for the sausage casserole remains gone. I really don’t understand that at all unless the explanation above this recipe is the right one.
NB: Don’t forget to rinse out the passata cartons with a little warm water – a surprising amount remains behind if you don’t.
Note re fat: Mostly I use clarified butter, because that’s what I always have in the fridge as I clarify a kilo of unsalted President at a time (enough for couple of months), or olive oil. However, whenever I have meat that has a substantial amount of fat, I’ll render it down and stash it in the fridge. Pork, in some form, including gammon, ham, and bacon, or lamb, have the best fat yields (not forgetting the fat sausages have been cooked in). It’s very hard to find beef with a sensible amount of fat on it these days, thanks to the food fascists (now proven wrong, though meat processors still remove as much as they can).
Note re vegetables: When it comes to aromatics, I prefer Sweet Spear carrots and Echalion shallots for their flavour. However, the only place I know for reliable supplies of both is Sainsbury’s (they spell Echalion as Eschalion on their website, which is wrong, as is their spelling of sourdough as Sough Dough** – so searching for either will be seriously unhelpful). If you can’t find them, use what you’ve got.
**The website, even after all the years of trading online, is a minefield of errors and omissions. Like the people they employ in meat preparation, their IT people seem to lack the appropriate skillset.
Finally, I made this soup exactly as described above – and it’s pretty damn good.
Spoonie rating. As the only real work is prepping the carrot, shallots and swede, I think 3 Spoonie spoons is appropriate.
Use fresh pre-prepped veg (carrots and onions are available, not sure about swede), and deduct 2 spoons, though the quality will suffer as I’ve found to my cost, so I’d increase the quantities by about half to compensate.