old, cold, french fry soup

Obviously, I am not suggesting anybody goes and buys french fries to try this recipe, but if you ever find you have been entrusted with the care of an abandoned box of french fried waifs and strays with rigor mortis setting in, don’t call social services, don’t arrange a funeral 🙂 MAKE THIS SOUP! Even day old fries work fine.

2 parts water to 1 part old french fries, a clove of garlic chopped. Place in saucepan, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer until all hard leathery bits have gone completely soft – usually about 10 minutes. Blitz. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Eh, voilà, before your very eyes will appear a velvety soup of honeyed gold – maybe it should be called cinderella soup – it is more properly a ‘Purée Parmentier’ – undoubtedly it’s the high oil content in the original fries that makes it taste so silky and delicious.

Mr Benz used to do this to me so often -ie, come home with uneaten/unwanted fries (like a bloody cat bringing you dead mice), that I had to come up with variations……
Nasturtium leaves added 3-4 minutes before the end – like watercress soup
A sprig of thyme, rosemary, sage or marjoram added at the beginning and removed before blitzing.
A few leaves of basil added just before blitzing.
A 1/4 of a porcini stock cube added to the cooking water, and a dribble of truffle oil added upon serving – a particular fav.
A dribble of olive oil you’ve fried with paprika and garlic, upon serving.

On this occasion, I added some of the wild garlic leaves about 2 minutes before the end of cooking.

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Butterbean salad for supper-last tuesday week!

Ok, got some catching up to do…I am going to get on top of this and get disciplined…so

I used some wild garlic (Ransom) leaves – roughly torn by hand and then gently wilted in olive oil for 30 seconds and marjoram in mine.
This is a really good main course salad for when salad greens are expensive and imported. It’s also about 50% out of the store cupboard, and depending on what you add to it, can be made to travel well for work/picnics – nothing worse than slimy lettuce leaves that have got a bit warm, eh?
The way you assemble it may seem weird, but it ensures that the beans soak up flavour from the vinegar, without making the bread go pappy and soggy.

Ingredients – serves 2 as a main course, 15mins
Core ingredients –
1 can butterbeans
1 small red onion, finely sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes left whole, or 2 tomatoes, cubed, if you’re going to eat it straight away.
Handful (about 5-6 per person) black olives, the shiny, slightly wrinkly kind.
1-2 slices stale bread, toasted
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
Mean pinch of salt to taste – you won’t need as much as you think, because of the olives.
Herb of choice

Optional ingredients if you’re eating it straight away
10 cm length of cucumber, cubed or 1 small Lebanese cucumber, cubed
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Basil
Rocket

Optional ingredients if you’re making it for later
Lightly cooked green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
Roasted red pepper, torn into shreds
Sweet marjoram, thyme or rosemary

Method
Lightly toast bread, and leave it in the toaster or under the turned off grill.
Rinse butter beans, and add to a bowl with the onion and a healthy twist of coarse black pepper – mix by hand and gently squeeze – you want the beans to keep their shape, but some of their skins to slightly break so the flavours get in. Add vinegar and mix again.

Re-toast bread (you want it to be completely dry without it burning) and rub the garlic clove over both sides, then tear into smallish chunks or cut into cubes. In a separate bowl, combine oil and bread. If you’ve only got white sliced, and you’re making this salad for later, it is worth gently frying your toasted cubes in the oil like croutons.

Add tomatoes, olives, salt, herb of choice and anything else you’re using to the beans and mix. If you’re eating it straight away, you can mix in the bread as well, if not, lay it on top of the salad and mix when you come to eat it….it doesn’t matter if some of the oil gets into the salad – in fact that’s a good thing, but you don’t want the bread to sit in the vinegar too long before you chow down.

Free food and weekly shop

I really, really have stuck to the budget in my cyber absence but I have bought some things like rice (£7.50 for 5 kilos) and the like… last week I bought a chicken reduced to £2.85 from £4, which went straight in the freezer, potatoes, garlic, ginger, chillies and a Chinese cabbage, which I haven’t used yet, but I also bought posh goat’s butter – more about that later…and dark soya sauce..and..and
Spring has come extremely late in London, but now it’s here, it’s going great guns, so there’s loads of nettles, wild garlic and other ‘weeds’ that are great free food if you get the young tips. It’s a window of about 2 or 3 weeks, so I’m trying to think of how to freeze some of this harvest, and come up with some recipes to make it a bit more interesting. Basically, nettles (which sting) and dead nettles (which don’t)taste like spinach and are really good for you – however, they are more fibrous, they cook down like amaranth – Jamaican callaloo – which is used, by different names, all over the world. The bestest ever name I found on wikipedia for amaranth is the Nigerian Yoruba -arowo jeja – apparently this means ‘we have money left over for fish’!
Nettle soup is lovely, if a little ‘too good for you’, but how much of the same thing can a person eat in a week – or feed to their long suffering family – so, along with a basic soup recipe, I am going to post a potato, onion, and ‘green’ pakora recipe and one for my version of Jamaican Pepperpot Soup.