Monday, 29 August 2011


It's the end of the month and as usual, things are a bit tight, so it's time to make cupboard food!  That is, try to make something nice with whatever is left in the fridge, cupboard or freezer - a bit like when I was a student, but hopefully I'm a bit better at throwing things together these days.

There are quite a few recipes from all over the world that seem to fit into this category of food - and this is not to say that these meals aren't tasty, wonderful, nourishing, or classy when made with the right, and often expensive ingredients, but they can also be put together with whatever is at hand.

For instance, Minestrone can be made with so many variations of ingredients, you can pretty much always cobble something together that is at least approaching a decent soup with that last carrot, the onion at the back of the drawer, a tin of tomatoes and some stand-by pasta - hey presto Minestrone!

This soup is another version of that idea - a Tuscan version, but I'd love to hear what your idea of an 'end of the month' meal is, before pay day rolls around and you can eat extravagantly again!

2 Carrots
1 Large Onion
3 Stalks Celery
1 Courgette
200g Cavolo Nero (Or greens, or dark green cabbage)
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tin Borlotti Beans
1/2tsp Ground Fennel Seeds
1/2tsp Chili Powder
2tsp Minced Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Stale Ciabatta bread (Day old will do)

In a large pan, heat the olive oil, and then add the carrot, onion, celery and garlic.  Cook them until they start to soften, and then add the fennel and chili powder and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Next, add the borlotti beans and tomatoes, top up with a bit of water - just enough to cover the vegetables - and bring the soup to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Shred the cavolo nero and chop the courgette finely, then add these and cook the soup for a further 30 minutes.

Cavolo Nero
Keep checking the level of liquid in the pan, and add a bit more water  if needed, so it's always just covering the vegetables.  When the soup has been cooking an hour, season to taste and then add a bit more olive oil.

Cut the crusts off the Ciabatta bread, and then break it into chunks and put them in the bowls you will be serving the soup in, then pour the soup over the top, sprinkle some parmesan over it and serve.  Enjoy

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