As you may remember, in last week's post I was helpfully sorting out one of the problems of the United States of America. And if this BBC News story is anything to go by, I'm more right now in the solution I was proposing than I was then. American readers please take heed!
But this week I thought I would address more local, immediate issues and return to my no frills cooking theme, particularly soup. I really like soup. I like eating (drinking?) it and I like making it. Re: making it, I think what I like is the sense of transformation, you start with a pile of vegetables (if making vegetable soup) and what you end up with is something which looks quite different although some similarity in the taste.
So, here are two ways to make tomato soup, the first originally courtesy of Delia Smith (but many alterations since then) and the second when I was on holiday in Hoogland Hydro in South Africa as recounted here (that was the time I missed the plane back).
Smooth tomato and apple soup
Firstly cut up an onion small and fry it.
(Parenthetical thought: WHY always the need to start with an onion? WHY? I realise that I do have the option of making a soup or stew without starting with an onion and finding out what happens, presumably the earth will still revolve around the sun, won't it? But no, that would be like going to work without first brushing my teeth, it's something that you just don't do. But WHY (start with an onion, not why do I need to brush my teeth, that is pretty self-explanatory I think)? End of parenthetical thought)
Take two apples, cut out the core and cut the rest into small piece, add to the frying onions when they're soft. After a couple of minutes add a random number (but large compared with the two apples) of tomatoes cut up fairly small, so at least 4 bits per tomato. You can also add ginger, garlic, salt, basil, anything else that takes your fancy.
Meanwhile, boil a kettle. First add some red wine (if you feel like it), red wine vinegar (ditto) then use the boiling water to just cover the tomatoes (note that they will release a fair bit of water whilst cooking). A chicken stock cube or two if you like. Bring the whole mixture to the boil, then turn the power down to a simmer and cover. If you're being posh you can cover the mixture with grease proof paper, not sure why but that's what Delia Smith said to do and it's reasonable to suppose that she understands these kinds of things better than I do. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then blend - I find that a hand whisk does the job pretty well, and cuts the washing up required compared to using a blender. Serve, add Worcestershire sauce to taste. And that's it!
Chunky tomato soup
Firstly fry an onion (please see parenthetical thought above). Then add a couple of red peppers (or green if you prefer, or a mixture) chopped and deseeded. Then a couple of stalks of celery chopped (if you feel so inclined). Then a random number of tomatoes, chopped as above. Again, you can have garlic, ginger, etc. etc. as you like.
Same routine with the fluid, bringing to the boil, and simmering as above. But don't blend this time, eat (rather than drink, I think) as is, adding Worcestershire sauce to taste.
And that's it! Method can be adapted to make other soups such as broccoli and Stilton (add the Stilton after blending), pea (no need to cut them up, they're small enough already) and ham (add table ready ham just long enough before serving to heat through) mushroom (use those nice big field mushrooms you can't get here) - and lots of others besides! I won't mention onion soup because I may come back to that in due course.
That's it for this week, very pleased to take any comments if you try these soups, or if you have any recipes which fit the ethos of no frills cooking. Thank you for reading, I'll be back soon!