This soup was a soup to shake me out of a funk longer than any I have recently known. I had a serious accident on Saturday night and hit my head backwards on a concrete floor at some speed. I’m okay, ish, but have whiplash and concussion, both of which are limiting my ability to sleep, work, and in the case of the latter, have so much as a thought in my head. For the first few days I rather enjoyed the peace and quiet of absolute mental vacancy as my brain has shut itself down to heal, but I have also lost my ability to create – the thundering hum of a thousand ideas that usually fly around at any given time, as I clutch at them wildly trying to capture one to expand on it. And they’ve gone, to be replaced with absolutely nothing at all. I have been living off crisps and apathy for the last week, and being miserable, and today was the first day I felt like wandering into the kitchen. I threw this together from what I had to hand, and it was exactly what I needed. Easy, thick, hearty, filling, and packed with spice and flavour. And wholesome and hearty enough to not be reaching for snacks – or even thinking about dinner – five hours later. This is going to be my new self-care soup, for down days, and I highly recommend it. In a real funk, you can replace the bag with a bag of microwave rice, which slightly increases the cost but reduces the effort. If you do this, you will need to reduce the stock liquid by around half, as it won’t be being absorbed by the rice.
Serves 4 generously at 31p each
100g peppers (fresh or frozen), 16p (95p/600g, frozen peppers at Asda)
400g tin of white beans, 23p (23p for 400g baked beans, Smart Price at Asda)
400g tin of tomatoes, 29p (29p for 400g, Smart Price at Asda)
300ml vegetable stock, 3p (39p for 12, Asda)
100g rice, 4p (45p/1kg, Smart Price at Asda)
400g kidney beans, 30p (30p for 400g, Asda)
1 tsp paprika, <1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)
¼ tsp black pepper, <1p(80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice, 2p (39p/250ml, Asda)
To make the base: dice the pepper if using fresh ones, or simply toss them into a roasting tin if using frozen. Add the tomatoes and beans, and place in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes, with a little shake of oil and a pinch of salt to bring them to life.
When cooked, tip into a blender with 300ml water and the vegetable stock cube, and blitz until roughly smooth. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth; this is a chunky and hearty soup, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Tip the soup into a pan and bring it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer (and quickly wash up the blender jug – they are far easier to clean when freshly used than trying to scrape caked-on crap off the sides of it. I put a splosh of water and a squirt of washing up liquid in mine, return it to the base and re-blend it – it is practically self cleaning!) Add the rice and give it a good stir.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans and tip them in, and add the paprika, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring intermittently to stop the rice from sticking to the base of the pan. Serve when the rice is soft and swollen.