Bert is regularly in character (and full fancy dress) as a fireman, astronaut or builder. He’s been known to be a cowboy, a dinosaur, a policeman and a pirate. Peepo, despite popping to Sainsbury’s and then driving back to his own house, occasionally visits, and we have a number of invisible lions and dinosaurs that live with us, as well as Peepo’s creepy mate, the flying monkey.
Next to Bert I feel positively unimaginative, but one thing I am good at inventing is soup.
This is normally another us-not-Bert one, though Bert will have a go at almost any soup if it’s topped with croutons (toss cubes of bread – the staler the better – in olive oil, sea salt and dry rosemary, bake at 200/ gas mark 6 for about 10 minutes, till golden).
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
2cm fresh ginger, grated (I portion it up and freeze it, grating it frozen)
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
Large handful red lentils
1 chicken stock cube
Dollop creme fraiche to serve
Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and spices. When the onion’s transparent, tip in the carrots, sweating gently for a couple of minutes, then add the ginger, seasoning, lentils, stock and enough boiling water to entirely cover the veg. Bring to a rapid boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Puree and check seasoning then serve with a dollop of creme fraiche on top.