A night in on my own, and my thoughts usually turn to what I can cook for my dinner. I knew I had a lot of things to use up, so I tried to think of something to do with those.
I had found a celery heart that was looking a bit sorry for itself, a tub of roasted carrots with sesame and sumac in the fridge with a couple of cooked new potatoes, and some tinned goods that needed using up to make a bit of room in my overflowing cupboards.
A soup was born. Leftover Soup.
1 celery heart, finely chopped. This includes the leaves by the way. Worked out to about 1 cup.
1 cup carrots (I had already roasted them in oil with salt, sumac and sesame seeds)
A few cooked new potatoes (3, to be exact)
1 Kallo organic chicken stock cube (very impressed with this)
1 tin borlotti beans
1 tin Waitrose Essentials artichoke hearts
1 fat clove garlic
Extra virgin olive oil (fruitier the better)
I already had a little bacon fat in a pan, so I fried the celery off in that, plus some olive oil, along with the carrots and the potatoes.
When the celery was softened, I added in the beans and enough water to cover everything, plus the stock cube, chopped up a bit, then added thin slices of garlic.
I left it to simmer on low for about an hour.
Whilst the soup was cooking, I took some of the artichokes out of the tin, and cooked them off very briefly in sear inly hot oil, so that they just browned on the cut side.
I had those as an antipasti, with a drizzle of a quarter of my fresh lemon, and more fruity extra virgin olive oil as a dressing.
That there is an Amalfi lemon that I had treated myself to.
Back to the soup. It had all cooked down nicely, the carrots were beautifully soft and the celery had gone translucent.
The rest of the artichokes went in, with the juice of half a lemon. I cooked that just long enough to warm the ‘chokes through, then served it with another lemon/olive oil drizzle.
I usually think that my own cooking is okay, but this…this I absolutely loved. The warm flavours of the Mediterranean certainly cheered up what had turned into a dark and rainy autumn evening.
I am thrilled that I have enough leftover to have for dinner on Sunday night, when I get in from my weekend away.
Another bit of using up happened this week, when I found one old potato languishing in a bag. I keep my potatoes in a black canvas bag to stop them going green, and I’d just forgotten about it. A lovely Pentland, grown on our local farm shop’s land. Thank you Calcott Hall!
I had been inspired by listening to Nigel Slater speaking about his new book, Kitchen Diaries II, on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. He talked so lovingly of a baked potato, and that reminded me to look in my canvas bag, just in case it contained forgotten treasures.
It did, and it was perfectly fine, just a tiny bit soft. Easily spruced up though.
I washed it, dried it, rubbed it with olive oil and sea salt then baked it on a metal tray for an hour until a skewer went through with no resistance.
Split it open, and stuffed it with the end of some Delice de Cremier cheese that – you guessed it – needed using up. That came from Calcott Hall too.
Okay so the cheese had a few bits of fluff on but you cut them off and it’s all good. (Unless you are cooking for my husband who has a fungus allergy in which case, you most definitely do NOT do this.)
It was more than good. Look.
That was one heavenly lunch.
Thank you Nigel Slater, thank you.
(I Tweeted him this very photo, and said it was all his fault. “How glorious does that look!” he tweeted back. Yes, I squeaked like a teenage fangirl.