Green pea soup

This is looks good (it’s a lovely green colour) and is quick to make. Serves 2:

  • 1 tbsp oilPea_soup
  • 1/2 onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 rashers of bacon (thinly sliced – preferably unsmoked)
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of mint (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • Lemon juice and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a largish saucepan. Add the bacon and cook (over a medium heat) for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook very gently for 10 minutes.

Add the peas and the stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes.

Purée the soup using a hand blender, liquidiser or a food processor. Then add the cream and heat gently to just below boiling point, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the mint, lemon juice and pepper, and serve.

Cabbage and bean soup

Another soup made from beans, root vegetables and cabbage:

  • 1 tbsp olive oilCanellini&cabbage_soup
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • 3 bacon rashers (thinly sliced)
  • 1 largish potato (diced)
  • Piece of swede (same size as the potato – diced)
  • 550mls vegi stock
  • 1/2 400g tin of cannellini beans (drained)
  • 100g cavolo nero or savoy cabbage (roughly chopped, with thick stalks removed)
  • 1 tbsp basil pesto
  • Seasoning (black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice)

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the bacon and stir-fry until it just begins to brown. Turn down the heat and gently cook the onions for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, potato and swede, and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Then add the stock. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Turn up the heat and stir in the beans and cabbage, add more water (if necessary), and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the pesto and season to taste. Serve.

Ham and pea soup


If you’re after some good, hearty comfort food.  One of my favourites is ham and pea soup.

I often think that supermarket bacon joints are extremely overpriced.  But Sainburys’ Basics range comes to the rescue here.  They do 670gm packs of ‘Cooking Bacon’ for £1.10.  You need to be selective about the pack you buy as some of them consist of a number of small pieces of bacon and sometimes even slices.

Soak about 150gms of split peas in water overnight.  These are usually yellow split peas, you can find green ones in health food stores, but both colours seem to taste the same.

Put the bacon in a large saucepan/stockpot with about two litres of water, an onion (quartered), a leek, a stick of celery (all roughly sliced); add some parsley, thyme, pepper corns and bay leaf.  I usually add a sliced carrot, but on this occasion I didn’t have any. Bring to the boil and very gently simmer (until the bacon is really well cooked – so that it falls apart – I cooked mine for about 4 hours (barely simmering)).

When ready, remove the bacon and pull apart into small pieces using two forks.

Strain the stock (throwing away the cooked vegetables).  Drain the peas.  Chop another onion, and gently fry until soft in a clean pan along with a carrot, a leek and a celery stick (all sliced).  Add the peas and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked (probably about 1.5 hours).  If it looks too thick just add some more boiling water.  Blend and return to the pan along with some of the pulled bacon.  Serve piping hot:

Ham and pea soup

What to do with rest of the ham?

CelereiacCeleriac remoulade – grated raw celeriac mixed with mayonnaise (with added whole grain mustard, low fat yogurt and lemon juice to taste); scatter with pulled ham – a good starter:





Ham and kale colcannon – mashed potato, sliced leeks cooked in butter, kale (shredded and briefly boiled) and pulled bacon:


Leek, bacon and cheese tart


I had bought a packet of four leeks (on offer at Lidl). I’d used the green ends to make ham and split pea soup and the remains of the other two to make Macaroni cheese with leeks. So I used the rest to make this tart.

Enough for 4-6:

  • Savoury shortcrust pastry case (mine was 20cm in diameter)
  • 20g butter
  • 2 leeks finely sliced
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 170ml double cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150 finely grated cheddar
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper

Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the leeks. Cover, and cook very gently for 10 minutes. Then allow to cool.

Meanwhile, grill the bacon until it starts to crisp. Remove from grill, allow to cool a little, and cut into thin slices.

Beat the cream and the eggs together and stir in the cheese. Add the bacon and leeks, stirring well. Add nutmeg and black pepper according to taste.

Add the mixture to the pastry case, and cook at 160C (Gas Mark 4) for about 40 minutes, or until well browned and firm on the surface.

Serve warm or cold.


The Full English


At the weekend I decided to do a ‘Full English’ Sunday breakfast. The ‘works’: ‘fried’ potatoes; bacon, sausages, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and scrambled eggs. Most of this was not fried at all.

Starting with the potatoes (old), I peeled and diced them, and put them into a pan of cold water. Once this was brought to boiling point, I drained the potatoes, and put them back in the pan over a very low heat (without a lid). Over the next 5 minutes I occasionally shook the pan (with the lid on). This made them ‘floury’ (and hopefully more crispy). Next, I put them in a roasting dish (already in the oven (190C) to which I had added goose fat (one scoop with a tablespoon (left over from Christmas)). They would cook for the next 40 or so minutes (turning them over halfway through).
The sausages and black pudding (skinned and sliced) were arranged in an a small roasting dish (the black pudding sprinkled with olive oil) and put into the oven about 10 minutes after the potatoes. This proved a mistake – surprisingly, water was the second ingredient in the Waitrose (assumed ‘high quality’) chipolatas and it fled the sausages on cooking (I had to drain the ‘puddle’ from the dish to continue cooking them). On reflection these would have been better spread out on a baking sheet in the oven (the water would have evaporated more easily), or grilled. The black pudding cooked in no time, so I arranged it on a serving dish, for reheating in the microwave at the last moment.
The mushrooms were washed and quartered and put in an oven-proof dish with olive oil, thyme and black pepper sprinkled over them. The tomatoes were washed, halved and put in an oven-proof dish with olive oil, basil, lemon juice and black pepper. Both were put in the oven (uncovered) about 5 minutes after the sausages and black pudding. the mushrooms needed stirring/turning over halfway through).
I grilled the bacon shortly before the potatoes were ready, and at that point lowered the oven temperature to about 120C, and kept it warm in its serving dish in the oven.
Finally, I broke the eggs (6 for four people) into a Pyrex measuring jug, added about 4 tablespoons of water, and some black pepper, and the poured the beaten mixture to a hot frying pan with a large nob of foaming butter. As the egg solidified in the pan I broke it up with a fork. Once the whole lot was nearly cooked, I turned off the heat and left it to briefly finish cooking (using its own heat).
Meanwhile the baked beans had been heated (in another Pyrex measuring jug) in the microwave (about 3.5 mins for a standard tin at 750W) and the black pudding had been reheated.
So we were ready to go. A lot of effort, a lot of enjoyment – then it was gone. Still Sunday Lunch was unnecessary that day!