Photography by Susan Bell

Use-Me-For-Anything Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce is exactly what its name says – a wonderfully versatile sauce for all occasions. It was inspired by a basic tomato sauce in Economy Gastronomy by Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett – which is a brilliant guide to cooking fantastic food on a budget. With mine, I make a batch, eat some, fridge some, and freeze some for later. This makes 6 small portions.

2 tbsp oil (sunflower, vegetable or groundnut are my favourites)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, chopped and deseeded, or a pinch of chilli flakes
2 tbsp red wine or red wine vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree or tomato ketchup

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onion. Stir in the garlic and chilli and cook on a medium heat until the onions are translucent and sweet.

Measure the wine or wine vinegar into the pan and stir for a few minutes on a low heat until the pungent alcohol or vinegary smell subsides. Then add the remaining ingredients to the pan – the chopped tomatoes and the puree or ketchup. Cook gently, stirring occasionally to disturb and prevent it from burning – for 20 minutes, by which time the sauce should be thickened and a gorgeous glossy red.

Remove from the heat and serve, or divide into portions and either put into the fridge, or allow to cool completely before freezing.

TIPS: I usually eat some immediately over 75g of spaghetti (cooked, 75g is the dried weight!). The remainder can be stored in small Tupperware containers, or if you have children, an ice cube tray makes for handy portion sizes for a quick dinner.

Use it as the base for a sort-of ratatouille, by adding any veg from the bottom of the fridge or freezer drawer.

For a lovely savoury flavour, try adding 6-8 anchovies, broken into chunks, with a tablespoon of sliced black olives and a handful of chopped fresh basil stirred in at the end.

‘Use Me For Anything Tomato Sauce’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available here.

Jack Monroe.      Twitter: @MsJackMonroe      Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Soup

This recipe came about after seeing the tins of soup in the supermarket and thinking, ‘I can do better than that.’ So rather than stocking up on thin tomato soup (with suspiciously few tomatoes) I thought I’d treat myself to some cheap, versatile, protein-packed spicy goodness instead. The quantities here make four generous portions.

Serves 4:

1 onion
2 tbsp oil
1 heaped tbsp cumin, seeds or ground
300g carrots
1 stock cube, dissolved in 500ml boiling water
1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans

Peel and chop the onion and pop into a medium sized saucepan with the oil and cumin. Wash and chop the carrots and add to the pan. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften.

Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the carrots are tender.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans well, add to the pan and heat through. Tip everything into the blender and pulse until smooth.

Tips: Add a few tablespoons of natural yoghurt after blending for a creamy taste.

You can add a handful of cooked red lentils to the leftover blended soup to make a thick, spicy pasta sauce. Alternatively, to make a thicker soup, add rinsed lentils along with the chopped carrots and cook in the stock.

Pretty much the same ingredients are used for the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers, so why not buy in bulk and make them both in the same week, or even at the same time!

Carrot, cumin and kidney bean soup recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available to buy at most major bookshops and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack