Tomato-plus soup


I’m having a bad mummy day. A shouty, irritable day not a fun, whisky swilling, swearing, Bad Santa kind of day. This photo, complete with iPad, shows that even by lunchtime I’d decided to pick my battles, for both of our sakes.

At bedtime I said, ‘have I been really grumpy today?’, beautifully finishing off a bad tempered day with a bit of neediness. ‘No,’ Bert said, ‘it was my fault.’ Which of course made me feel even worse.

When Bert spoke to his dad at dinner time I was hoping he’d mention the fun stuff we’d done rather than say I’d been shouting at the dog then apologising all day. But no: ‘we played and then I felt something moving in my punny and then a poo came out!’ ‘Great!’ said his dad with the level of over-excited cheer that seems to be everyone’s standard response to poo news. ‘Where? When?’ ‘On the chair!’ Tony’s smile became just a touch more fixed.

Luckily it’s a leather chair. 

This is week five of Bert’s dad working away and while I don’t want to moan about parenting someone I wanted and love dearly, single parents, whether they are better people than me or just have to tolerate a lot of feeling like a shit parent days or both, have my deep felt admiration.

Serves 2

A portion of cooked veg, primarily orange-hued (we had half a large carrot in batons and a couple of spears of broccoli left over from Sunday dinner, but I’ve also used a tin of drained sweet corn combined with a handful of frozen peas in the past)

A large teaspoon of butter

A clove of garlic, crushed

1 tin of tomatoes and half the can of water

A teaspoon of light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of cream

1 egg yolk

Seasoning

Melt the butter, fry the garlic for a few seconds then add the veg, tomatoes, water, sugar and seasoning. Bring to a rapid simmer. Puree then stir through the egg yolk and cream, check seasoning and serve.

Bert took a sip through his bowl’s in-built straw and said, ‘mmm, it really is tasty!’ How could I be impatient with such a boy?

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Carrot, ginger and red lentil soup

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).

Serves 2-3

25g butter

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

Boiling water

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.

 

Not Heinz tomato soup

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And yet, strangely, very much like Heinz tomato soup.

Serves 2

1 tin of cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes (cherry are a bit sweeter, but plum are fine)

1/2 a slice of white bread

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt

Water from the kettle

Bring the tinned tomatoes and their juice to a boil in a saucepan and add the torn up bread, sugar, vinegar and cayenne. Turn the heat off, leave for 5-10 minutes for the bread to absorb the liquid, and then puree, thinning to the right consistency with hot water from the kettle if you need to. (We have it a bit thicker than Heinz, but – importantly – thin enough to drink through a bowl with a built in straw.)

Season and liquidise. You can also add any leftover roast red onion, pepper or carrot (anything red-hued), if you’ve got it, before you puree.  Reheat gently, checking the seasoning, and serve with bread and butter.

 

Thai veg soup

thai veg soup

Perfect, post-sickness bug food. (Thanks, Bert.)

Serves 2

Dash of sunflower or veg oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 small bunch coriander, chopped

100g spring greens, chopped

1 tin coconut milk

Salt to taste

3 white mushrooms, roughly chopped

Bert gets a sickness bug, is sick twice (and does about 20 jigsaws in between), has an afternoon nap and is then completely recovered. He passes it on to us and we’re floored for days.

God, we feel old.

To make the soup, saute the onion, garlic, spices and chopped coriander stalks till the onion’s translucent. Add the spring greens and coconut milk, season and simmer until tender before pureeing. Then add the mushrooms and return to the heat for another 5 minutes to cook the mushrooms through. Sprinkle on the chopped coriander leaves to serve.

Bert has tried this, and would probably eat it with a bit less chili, though the thought of his wild spooning plus the turmeric is a bit unnerving, immovable stains-wise.

Borscht

borscht

Bert was up all night, tossing and turning. Weren’t we all? He came into our bed at 4am, and was wriggling around busily all night. I woke up to find that he’d carefully arranged Ray the mini dog, Teddy, Didda Ra the dinosaur and Bert Ted (narcissistic, Bert?) along the end of the bed in a straight line.

Here’s a European soup for a sad day. As a friend of mine commented on Facebook, laugh now – tomorrow there will be no salami!

Serves 4

Glug olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

A small onion, peeled and chopped

5 fresh beetroot, peeled and chopped

4 small pototoes, peeled and chopped

1 chicken stock cube

Water from the kettle

Salt and pepper to taste

Good glug double cream – about 50ml

1 dessert spoon creamed horseradish

1 small bunch coriander – chopped

Sweat the onion and garlic in the oil, then add the veg and cook for another couple of minutes. Cover with hot water from the kettle, season and crumble in the stock cube. Cook for around 20 minutes, till tender. The beetroot takes longer to cook than the potato, so cut it smaller.

Blend and stir through the cream and horseradish and then sprinkle on the chopped coriander. Serve with bread and cheese.

 

 

Avocado, mint and courgette soup

av soup

This is another one for the ‘me not Bert’ section.

Serves 2 (but if Tony doesn’t get into the kitchen in the next five minutes, I’m going back in to finish it off)

2 courgettes, roughly chopped

500ml chicken stock

Pinch of salt

1 avocado, halved and flesh scooped out

1/2 lemon, juice of (use the other half for a G&T when the sun’s past the yard arm) (what  that expression means, beyond ‘reach for the alcohol as soon as is decently possible’, I have no idea)

Leaves from a couple of stalks of mint

Good splash of double cream

This is so easy. Stick the chopped courgette in a pan with the stock and salt, and simmer till tender. Take it off the heat, add the avocado, mint, lemon juice and cream and blend.

 

Alphabet soup

alphabet

This is a version of a Jamie Oliver recipe. Bert spurned it, but I put that down to teething (teething which had miraculously disappeared by the time he was offered his first chocolate milkshake later). Not sure how we’ll justify his evil behaviour when those last two molars have come through.

Serves 3 generously

Selection of veg to roast (I used a carrot, 3 sticks of celery and a red pepper, but you could just use a couple of those, or substitute leek for the celery), roughly chopped

1/2 a punnet of cherry tomatoes

4 or 5 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1/2 tin of water

2 or 3 handfuls of alphabet pasta (or spaghetti broken up into pieces)

Spoonfuls of pesto and grated cheese to serve

Drizzle the veg, cherry tomatoes and garlic with olive oil and roast in a hot oven (220 degrees or the top of the Aga roasting oven) for about 40 minutes, till soft.

Set aside the garlic and tip the veg and juices into a pan, squeezing the soft garlic out of its papery cases into the veg. Add the tinned tomatoes and water and blitz with a blender to a nearly smooth onsistency. Stir the pasta through and bring the lot to a simmer on the hob, cooking till the pasta’s soft (about 7 to 10 minutes).

Serve with a blob of pesto and a sprinkling of grated cheese.

This did not get the dramatic ‘mmmm’s that the chocolate milkshake did. At least, not from Bert.