I keep finding myself baking or cooking out of boredom.
I hate cooking. Or at least I used to. On days like today though, where we’re all willing it to HURRY UP AND FUCKING SNOW; where the sky is white and the town has a cold, grey hue to it, it’s kinda nice to hang out in the kitchen and make some hearty feasts.
And so far all I’ve eaten today is a piece of banana cake.
A gargantuan pot of vegetable soup is quietly simmering away on the stove top and the house smells like many Sundays of my childhood.
This recipe is mainly improvised but it’s a throwback to one my Nana taught my Mum, and Mum in turn taught me. My Nana on my Dad’s side used to make vegetable soup with a big pork hock slowly softening in the centre of the pot. Forever a farming family from the South, no one got it when, during my vegetarian years, I refused to eat it. I’m not a vegetarian anymore but the idea of putting meat in a vegetable soup still just doesn’t sit right with me.
Here’s what I did today:
1/2 a green skin pumpkin. Any pumpkin will do, this one was just on special at the shops.
2 medium kumara, peeled
4 large carrots
an entire bunch of celery, leaves and all. Now, the celery is the most important part of this soup. I don’t know why but Mum told me to never forget the celery. I’ve never had the courage to make vegetable soup without it either so the theory is yet to be tested.
2 large brown onions
a shitload of garlic (personal preference)
8 cups of vegetable stock (I use Oxo cubes but this is just a convenience)
about a cup of some kind of dehydrated soup mix. I don’t know what this is exactly but it’s just a bag of wheat, barley, and dehydrated vegetables or something?
(this guy, or something similar)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop up all the vegetables except celery into small cubes (this just makes them easier to mash in the pot). I don’t bother peeling the carrots or the kumara because I reckon the skin adds flavour and nutrients to the soup. Also because I’m lazy and in my 28 years have never been able to master the potato peeler. The celery you just wanna cut up width ways and roughly chop the leaves too.
Sauté onion and garlic in pot on high heat before adding all the vegetables, as well as enough stock to just cover the vegetables. Add some salt and pepper before turning the heat down. Put the lid on the pot and you’re basically done.
After while the veggies will get all soft and juicy and that’s when you want to jump on in there with a masher (is that what that instrument is called?) and get freaky with it. It’s perfectly OK if your soup looks like something the dog threw up at this point, because you know that’s not what this it.
NB: I absent-mindedly cut the carrots wrong so there’s not a great deal of success going on in the mashing process. Does it matter? Not in the slightest.
Simmer simmer, mash mash, season season and there ya go, some tasty as shit vegetable soup.
Of course no soup is complete without a side of bread. Because I love onion so goddamn much, and let’s face it, I’m not getting laid anytime soon, I made this slap dash cheese and onion mix and whacked it on some ciabatta. Probably more calories than I deserve at this point but you can’t beat the satisfaction of shovelling greasy, cheesy bread in your face.
This isn’t an exact science but here’s the cheese and onion mix just to give you an idea:
1/4 red onion
100g (ish) grated cheese
1tbsp butter (or margarine)
Mash it all together, whack it on the bread and grill it until it’s all melted and golden.
Get it in your face!