All posts filed under: Soups

Nigella’s Lentil & Chestnut Soup, 48p

This recipe is adapted from ‘How To Eat’ by Nigella Lawson, who in turn adapted it from ‘an aromatic, velvety, manilla-coloured soup at Le Caprice’ in the late 1980s. The bootstrap adjustments and pricing are my own. The original recipe includes half a leek, which I have omitted out of laziness; I didn’t have one in and didn’t want to take a trip to the shop especially, but if you want to stick more closely to the original, slice it and add it at the same time as the onion. If chestnuts are a step too far outside of your comfort zone, replace with peanut butter instead; this variation benefits from a hefty whack of chilli and lemon, turning it into an entirely different meal, but a delicious one. Serves 4-6 from 48p each. This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients. All …

Spicy Rice & Doublebean Soup, 31p [Tin Can Cook]

This soup was a soup to shake me out of a funk longer than any I have recently known. I had a serious accident one Saturday night in April and hit my head backwards on a concrete floor at some speed. I ended up with whiplash and concussion, both of which limited 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 shut itself down to heal, but I also temporarily 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 vanished, to be replaced with absolutely nothing at all. I lived off crisps and apathy for a week, and being miserable, until on the seventh day I felt like wandering into the kitchen. I threw this together …

Love Soup, 23p [A Girl Called Jack]

There are many different recipes entitled Love Soup – I’ve seen some rich chicken soup recipes, some with heady garlic and some deep red tomato soup ones. By chance, the ingredients for this were what I had kicking around in the fridge one Valentine’s Day, so this warming carrot, ginger and onion soup is mine. Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like sweet roasted vegetables, blended into a home-made silky soft soup. Especially if you’re making it for yourself. Serves 2 from 23p each. This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change.     3 tbsp cooking oil, 4p (£2.98/3litres) 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2p (39p/250ml)   2 cloves of garlic, 3p (50p/3 bulbs) A small piece of fresh ginger, to taste, 3p (£1.50/500g) A fistful of fresh coriander or …

Pappa Al Pomodoro, 29p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

I love a good tomato soup, and quite often with the humble tomato, simplicity is key. So imagine my delight, one evening, finding a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro while idly leafing through the iconic River Café Cookbook ( Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers). I’d never heard of it, but fell in love instantly – garlic, salt, herbs, tomatoes and a little bread. Of course, the original calls for fresh tomatoes in late summer and ‘open-textured white bread made with olive oil, such as Pugliese’, given that the River Café is famous for tremendously good Italian cooking (and was home to a fledgling Jamie Oliver, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro and many many other great chefs of our time). I decided to see if I could make my own version, from my basics, including my stash of old bits of bread . Who has a toddler or fussy teenager, or even adult, in their household that doesn’t eat their crusts? I used to battle with my Small Boy in the morning about the crusts …

Chocolate, Chilli & Black Bean Soup, 64p [A Girl Called Jack]

I knock up this soup whenever I find myself in the grips of a piteous cold, or just generally need a bit of a kick in the cookies. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness, with chillies to fire your engine back up, tomatoes and carrots for essential vitamin C, beans for protein and chocolate because it’s a solution to almost everything. Plus dark chocolate and red wine are good for you, don’t you know? But putting all the science to one side, this is delicious, filling and surprising – so even if you don’t have a cold, make it anyway! Serves 2 from 64p each . This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change. 400g tinned black beans or kidney beans, 55p 1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg) 2 cloves …

White Bean, White Wine & Garlic Risotto, 29p

I did not mean to make this today. I did not imagine it, did not plan it, did not conceive of it in advance. I wandered into my kitchen around midday with a gardener and a friend to feed, and myself, and pottered absently at the stove throwing whatever came to hand into my, wide, shallow pan. I very rarely cook with onions these days, as any great quantity of them upsets my stomach – such are the perks of growing older with a compromised immune system and a body that seems to find a new failing on a near-weekly basis – but I inexplicably find myself still with half a fridge drawer of them, red and white and peeling at the edges, and so I shrug and accept the consequences. A tin of cannellini beans at eye level, a bag of basic rice so old that it was 45p when I bought it (it has risen to 65p now, and I no longer shop at that particular supermarket). I want comfort, soft and creamy, …

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Soup, 18p [A Girl Called Jack]

. I wanted to write another recipe, but I felt sullied, trite, misappropriated, and used. So instead I am going to rewrite my recipes from 2012 – that many of you will not have seen buried beneath the beautiful new ones – and re-cost them to demonstrate the soar in prices in the Basics range over the last 6 years, and how it is always the poorest who shoulder the burden of economic inequality. 

Spinach, Lentil & Lemon Soup, 34p [Cook For Syria]

This easy, comforting spinach and lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in Saha, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I made it a few times as a quick late-night supper, before I lost the notebook with the details in one of my many house moves. For a long while, as a single mum on benefits, I all but lived out of a pile of boxes as I ran from rent arrears to damp and mould to a single mattress on a floor in a shared house, and a lot of pieces of paper – and nerve endings – got lost along the way. Here’s what I remember of it, in happier times these days, with a few blanks filled in. Homely, comforting and filling, it can also be made with tinned lentils and frozen spinach for the ultimate easy, inexpensive lunch or dinner. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if …

Use-Me-For-Anything Tomato Sauce, 13p [A Girl Called Jack]

This tomato sauce is exactly what its name says – a wonderfully versatile sauce for all occasions. I make a large batch and freeze it in small jars or ice cube trays to use as the base for pasta sauces, soups, stews, or anything that could do with a bit of pepping up. It stands alone as a pretty decent pasta sauce, too. This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, in 2012, but I have updated it slightly here to reflect the rise in basic food costs, eliminating the red wine vinegar and tomato puree for a simpler splat of tomato ketchup – which does the same job, but far more cheaply. Every day is a school day round here. Makes approximately 6 generous portions at 13p each (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) 2 tbsp …

Bread, Bean & Fennel Stew, 17p

The idea of putting bread in stew is one that dates back hundreds of years, to a medieval broth known as ‘caudle’. It is both a use-up for stale bread, or crusts cut off for fussy children, and adds both texture and thickness to a liquid broth. This soup is hearty, wholesome and delicious – made in a grey January fog for a group of hungry friends, and devoured with gusto. The ingredients are all fairly interchangeable; the beans can be any kind you fancy, even plain old baked beans will do. You can extend this with some diced chopped veg, or sweeten and substantiate the base with chopped onion and garlic, but I like it just as it is, simple and huggy. The fennel is just there for a touch of sweetness; if you don’t have any in, a teaspoon of sugar and some herbs will do the job just fine. To make this gluten free, simply replace the bread with gluten free bread of your choice. I make mine with kidney beans sometimes, …

Black Bean & Peanut Stew, 26p

The original version of this dish contained chicken, so I have substituted it with black beans here. It makes for a more filling meal, and a cheaper one, too, as beans and pulses are generally far cheaper than meat and pulses. Dried beans work out even cheaper, but they require a degree of organisation to remember to soak them the evening before, or even to know what you will be eating in advance. I have never managed to be quite so organised, so it would be disingenuous of me to urge you all to do so, but if you are a meal-planning person, bear in mind that dried pulses are a lot cheaper than the convenience of popping open a tin of pre-cooked ones. If you find black beans difficult to get hold of or not to your taste, you can use kidney beans, green lentils, or really, any bean will do. The cooking time given here is a minimum, not an absolute, as with any pulse-based stew, it will simply improve the longer it …

Slow Rich Lentil Ragu, 29p (slow cooker)

Cooking anything for 12 hours when on the most stringent of budgets sounds like an eye-popping luxury, but fear not bootstrap fans, there’s only as many hours actual cooking as you want to stretch to, and done in a slow cooker it costs less than keeping a lightbulb on. For the last few years readers have been asking me to venture into slow cooker recipes, and mine is this nifty little £12 number from Wilko (no I’m not on commission, unfortunately!). At 1.5l it just holds enough for a main meal for two hungry people or four smaller appetites. I have had mine for around 4 years and it is still going strong, so it is well worth the investment if you can afford it, for what you will save in energy costs, time, effort and headspace alone. It is no big secret that I am not always in the greatest of health, mental or physical, and on low spoons days I need something that delivers the maximum nutrition on the minimum of effort; I’m …

Soffritto, 19p

For the last few months, I have been spying little jars of soffritto paste in the specialty foods aisles of various supermarkets. Snuggled next to such exoticisms as ancho chillies, dried porcini mushrooms, and other things that it is ‘nice to have but not essential’ (although Waitrose now feature artichoke hearts in their Essentials range, for the love of God!). I picked a jar up out of curiosity, as I like to imitate fancy ingredients myself, cheaply, on this here blog, to make them more accessible. I turned it over, bracing myself for the hard-to-find ingredients contained within, steeling my nerves for the inevitable reverse-engineering process to follow…and snorted with laughter. This jar of soothingly yellow paste contained such far-flung ingredients as celery, carrots and onion, with a dash of salt and pepper. I snapped a quick photo of the label, and went back to the vegetable aisle, picking up 3kg of carrots and onions and a bag of celery for less than the puny jar of paste would have cost. Such is often the …

Don’t Throw That Away! An A-Z of leftovers, tired veg, etc and what to do with them.

This piece started after an article in the Independent about the top 10 foods that we apparently throw away in the UK. I took to Twitter to ask people what usually ended up in their bin, and then spent a whole day and night answering hundreds of queries – some of them came up a lot, like bread and mushrooms, and some were rather more surprising, like ‘half a jar of caviar’ (not a problem I can say I have ever had, but I am here to help, and inverse snobbery is as ghastly as the original kind so please, resist the urge.) I have compiled them all here as an A-Z, and will keep this list going, and add to it regularly, as a handy reference point – so keep checking back! And add your own tips at the bottom, our ‘hive mind’ is a much better thing than my admittedly limited experience!! Also remember you can always use the search bar on the blog to find recipe ideas too, for that stray carrot, …