For the next few weeks, I'll be in my top secret soup laboratory (In a hollowed out volcano, obviously) working on a very special project, which I'm sure I will bore you all senseless with in good time, but to fill the gap, I have some lovely guest posts lined up. Please say nice things about them and also you can follow them on twitter.
First up we have Lucy who you can find on twitter as @LucyNeuburger, but we will let her introduce herself...
Hello, my name is Lucy and I am a 23-year-old Masters student currently residing in small but lively city of Leeds. Anytime I am not devoting to ‘bettering myself’ (yes Dad, I do listen to you) I can be found reading cookbooks, cooking blogs, and cooking websites…. I am an avid follower of anything and everything food related and my dream job would be anything involving food writing. I am first and foremost a baker, but I also like to cook all manner of other dishes for friends and myself. At my age, I should probably be out partying, but I would far rather have you round for dinner and a bottle of wine (maybe 2).
Soup is a word that most students associate with a garishly orange, thick liquid that empties out of a tin marked ‘HEINZ’. Most of the time this is because they go through body numbingly cold winters in damp, unheated houses blissfully unaware of how simple (and rewarding) it is to make your own. I am fortunate enough to come from a family where my Mum always encouraged me to cook and eat well. I have often forgone nights out in order to afford better food…. Yes that may make me a terrible student, but after four years, I have yet to contract scurvy and my liver still feels like it is part of my body! I must be on to something….
The recipe I would like to share with you is one passed on to me from my Mum, which she often makes it for me when I go home. We will sit with a bowl each, and by the time we are finished, the world has been put to rights and sometimes, it has even stopped raining! The association with home is probably why I like it so much…. That and the fact it is a meal in itself and can be freely adapted as well according to what you have in the cupboard. It is also excellent in providing a use for those onions that have started sprouting green shoots! A bowl of this soup I believe has the power to melt away your stress, cure the common cold and pretty much anything in between. It has seen me through many difficult times in many barely habitable houses…. Fellow unwashed, tired, stressed students, this one is for you via my Mum! Enjoy!
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 carrot (finely chopped)
1 stick of celery (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
50g pancetta (if you wish to splash out, but normal bacon/lardons are absolutely fine!)
1 tin of cannellini beans (or borlotti beans or butter beans or go wild and add several different sorts of bean…. At pence per tin, you have no reason not to try some different ones!)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 squeeze tomato puree (not essential)
1 large pinch of dried chilies (this can also be omitted but I find adds warmth and slight kick!)
• In a pan, fry off the pancetta until crispy and put to one side.
• In the same pan, add the olive oil, onions, garlic, carrot and celery and sweat until the onion starts to appear translucent – transfer to a pot or large saucepan.
• Re introduce the pancetta and add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree and chilies (if using) and stir well.
• In a jug, add half a litre of boiling water to a stock cube and stir until the stock cube dissolves.
• Add the liquid to the saucepan and bring to the boil before reducing the heat so the soup is just simmering – simmer for 20 minutes to give flavours a chance to combine.
• Before serving the soup, add your chosen beans, stir and allow to cook through for a couple of minutes.
• Serve in big bowls with chopped herbs, some grated cheese and as much black pepper as you can handle!