Its so windy outside and the rain blows in relentless sheets at my face and then, in almost the same moment, away from me so hard that I can feel it slamming into the back of my coat. You can’t see anyones expressions because they have their chins tucked tightly down into their collars to provide some small respite from the unusually brutal weather. I don’t imagine any of us look very comfortable.
Back at home enough time has elapsed since Christmas to make it worth knocking up a “Fridge Soup”. I always have all manner of bits and pieces left over from the festive period that seem to magically combine into the most warming and satisfying broth with just a little care.
Soup is good for the soul and making it from stuff which would otherwise take a direct route into the bin will leave you with a warm glow of pride not to mention a steaming bowl of excellent soup. If you have family on hand get them to help you and turn off the radio or TV. This is a chance to make dinner and chat about your day. Cherish these moments with your children because they become less frequent all too soon. You might find out something that you would never have known just through taking the time to talk.
So, rooting about in the fridge and the sorry looking veg box I found the following. 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, an onion, a fat leek, a handful of brussel sprouts, a little dish of tinned tomatoes, a bit of rich and dark gravy from the New Years Day roast, a sprig of thyme and some rosemary. You wont have the same things (if you do it would be a bit weird) but if you have some vegetables you have soup. To my hoard I grabbed a couple of bay leaves from the garden and reached for the store cupboard staples green and yellow lentils, a generous handful of each. You can use anything I have mentioned here and parsnips, swede, cabbage, a bit of leftover ham, mushrooms…the list is endless. Whatever you have can go in (probably not Christmas Cake. I haven’t tried it but I don’t have a good feeling about it)
Chop up the vegetables any way you like, and whilst you do notice that feeling of using things up rather than throwing them away. Its a treat isn’t it? Add a few glugs of olive oil into the pan and slowly soften the vegetables. If you have anything more delicate like kale or spinach leave it till the soup is nearly ready and add it then otherwise it’ll just disintegrate. Add any herbs you’re using here too.
Once the vegetables are glistening and softening add everything else, give it a good stir and then top up with water or vegetable stock. How much? Well it depends whether you like your soup very thick and “vegetabley” or thinner and more “soupy”. Don’t forget that the lentils will absorb water if you are using them so add a bit more than makes the consistency you desire. This is not rocket science people so if it turns out a bit too thick guess what? You can add some more liquid. Its no big deal. I also happened to have a bit of leftover swede which had been pureed with butter and black pepper which I added to make a slightly thicker consistency. I could just have easily eaten it with a spoon straight from the dish but I’m not an animal.
Once it has simmered for 20 minutes its ready. Just check the seasoning, adjust and serve with big hunks of bread, the last of the ham and those bits of lovely cheese that have begun to look a little forlorn but will be transformed by their new bedfellows.