A Big Pot of Organised Goodness

So as with most people our weeks are very busy. Both of us work and the kids are in full time crèche life is busy but with winter and with the sick season on its way we still like to ensure that we eat well at a decent price without breaking the world during winter.

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One of the solutions we have found is to put together a big pot of soup for the week. The kids get a good lunch at crèche and A. and I often eat leftovers from meals and lots of fruit and veg during the day so hearty soup, salad and sandwiches works well in a busy rush home and get the kids ready for bed evening.

We have a good number of soups we regularly do. One that is always a favourite is the leek and potato soup with parmesan rind. Pretty damn good, kids love it we love it but not really a great source of the mix of vegetables that promotes immune system and general health over winter (damn).

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Two others that we make regularly are pumpkin/vegetable soup and minestrone. A big pot of one of these two soups would be made most weeks for us and we would get 2 -3 nights worth of meals with sandwiches and salads from it.

Both soups are great as they use lots of in season vegetables and use what is local and are very easy to make and are both very cheap. The can be made quickly and easily even with kids running around and organising a week night .

I am lucky I have access to good veggies I grow and from my parents and farmers markets we also use cheap off cuts of meats, these tends to be a very small amount often coming from things like prosciutto rind, de skinned sausages, bacon and off cuts of ham from our local boutique smoke house vendor. So as I said even on a budget these are easy to make and generally pretty good for you.

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Easy Minestrone (big soup)

Ingredients

  • Meat as discussed above
  • Large onion diced
  • 3 Carrots cut into 5mm pieces
  • 3 sticks of celery cut into 5mm pieces
  • 4 -5 gloves of garlic crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Big handful of fresh picked parsley
  • Springs of thyme
  • 1.5 litres of stock (I typically use chicken stock)
  • Dash of white wine optional)
  • Good handful of short pasta (I tend to use wholemeal or spelt pasta but any will do)
  • ¼ of a cup of passatta sauce
  • Can of white or borlotti beans, or frozen peas or some green beans.

A lot of my soups, stews and casseroles start with a mirepoix which is a French term for a mix of the carrot, onion and celery which is sweated down in a pot with a little olive oil. The only real trick is to not turn up the heat to high and to leave the lid on when sweating the vegetables. Under no circumstances do you want to let the vegetables brown at all. I tend to leave it for around 15 minutes and about ½ way through I throw in the garlic and bay leaves and herbs. Once the base has been sweated add the stock, wine and the passatta sauce and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 – 30 minutes (good time to get the kids bathed and in their PJ’s)

After the simmer time add the pasta for another 10 minutes at a simmer then add the beans and simmer for another 5 minutes (if you use fresh green beans add them with the pasta)

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh herbs, some grated parmesan (or not) and drop of good olive oil. Freezes exceptionally well as lunches.

Pumpkin/Vegetable Soup.

This one takes a bit longer so best made on a Sunday or while making Mondays dinner and just get better as you reheat it.

For me the only difference between pumpkin and vegetable soup is that in pumpkin I use a lot more of the pumpkin where as in a vegetable soup I will use a greater mix of vegetables. The Veggie soup is great as a way touse up any leftover veggies you might have hanging around and again freezes well.

Ingredients

  • A piece of ham, bacon or smoked hock.
  • 2 Large onion sliced
  • 3 Carrots cut into 5mm pieces
  • 3 sticks of celery cut into 5mm pieces
  • 4 -5 gloves of garlic crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Big handful of fresh picked parsley
  • 2 kg of pumpkin cubed
  • 750 grams of potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of a good garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

As with the other soup above this one starts with a mirepoix which is a French term for a mix of the carrot, onion and celery which is sweated down in a pot with a little olive oil. The only real trick is to not turn up the heat to high and to leave the lid on when sweating the vegetables. Under no circumstances do you want to let the vegetables to brown at all. I tend to leave it for around 15 minutes and about ½ way through I throw in the garlic and bay leaves and herbs. Once the base has finished add the cubed pumpkin and potato add water to just cover the veg and bring to the boil. Add a good amount of salt the garam masala, pepper and turmeric. Add your piece of ham, bacon or hock and simmer till the potatoes and pumpkin are soft.

Stick blend it til your desired consistency. Serve with sour cream or yogurt. I like to add in some fried sliced chorizo on top as well .

The kids love a good cheese toastie to go with it this and I have a few ways to make it and one of our favourite is to use the Lebanese flat bread, fill with grated cheddar cheese and a little mustard, butter both sides and put in a press grill. Comes out crispy and cheese filled for the kids (and big kids) to dip into the soup.

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