Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Bread Crusts And Tomato Soup), 32p – VEGAN

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup…

I love a good tomato soup, and quite often with the humble tomato, simplicity is key. So imagine my delight, yesterday evening, idly leafing through the iconic River Café Cookbook (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers), and finding a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro. 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). Alas, although my other half (also a River Café chef in her youth) is fond of the odd Pugliese, I’m not about to go and buy a loaf to tear up and fling into soup, nor recommend that you do on a budget cooking blog. I decided to see if I could make my own version, from my basics.

Firstly, 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 four year old boy in the morning about the crusts on his toast, until I gave up – if he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t like them, and giving his toast a quick trim is easier than ten minutes of parrying – me insisting that he eats them, him nibbling and giving me looks out of the corner of his eye and grimacing and whining, oh it’s just not worth it, is it? So now I trim them off, and fling them in a bag in the freezer. I blitz them into breadcrumbs when I need a small amount of them, rather than waste a whole loaf of bread, but today I dug some of them out for this soup. Bread crust and tinned tomato soup, given a fancy Italian name. Stay with me, it’s utterly delicious…

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all...

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all…

Serves 2 at 32p each

2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p
a pinch of salt, <1p
4 tbsp oil, vegetable or sunflower, 8p (The River Café Cookbook uses olive oil, but it’s gone the way of the pugliese in this recipe, i.e. NOT HERE)
400g carton of tomatoes, 35p
1 stalk (2g inc stalk) fresh rosemary, 8p or 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
60g bread, crusts are best but any bread will do (approx 2 slices medium cut bread), 7p

First finely slice your garlic and add to a saucepan with the salt. Pour over the oil and turn the heat on very very gently – I do garlic then heat, because quite often I’m doing a gazillion things at once in my kitchen, and the oil gets too hot because I decide to quickly wash something up and the garlic goes in and burns and I have to start the whole thing again. It just needs a gentle soften here, so garlic, salt, oil, gentle heat. Burnt garlic stinks. In all kinds of ways.

After a minute, pour over the chopped tomatoes and add 250ml water and the herbs, and bring to the boil. Stir well, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, until the soup thickens and concentrates. It might seem like a lot of water, but trust me, it needs it, and it’s going to have even more in a minute…

After 15 minutes, tear up your bread and fling it in. Add another 250ml water (if you’re sceptical, add it a little at a time, but the bread sucks a lot of water up as it swells from bland boring crusts to soft and soggy pieces of deliciousness). Bring it to the boil again, then cover it to retain as much heat as possible (a lid, a plate, some tin foil) and turn the heat off. Leave it to stand for as long as you can bear it – I managed half an hour before I dived back in, but it’s one of those that improves the longer it stands around doing its thing, hanging out on the hob, developing its flavours…

Warm through to serve. Depending on your tomatoes, it might be a little sharp (although it shouldn’t be after all that cooking and hanging around, but not all tomatoes are created equal. If that’s the case, just stir in a teaspoon of sugar as it warms through to adjust it). After me – nom nom nom nom nom nom nom…

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I did my shopping this week, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics table salt 25p/750g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics tomatoes 35p/400g. Fresh rosemary 80p/20g. Mixed dried herbs 35p/14g. Giraffe bread £1/800g.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/msjackmonroe) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/msjackmonroe) and find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great: http://www.hive.co.uk/by/jack-monroe/21868634/

Leek, Savoy & Cheese Pasta, 43p

Well, Lent is over and save a few hiccups, accidental and weakness, I managed to add quite a lot to my vegan recipe repertoire over the past month and a half.

However, a week ago when I was clearing out my fridge, I came across a piece of smoked cheese i’d bought from the reduced counter at my local supermarket a long time ago. I’ve been in this game too long to throw it away, so I thought I would make something out of it.

The result, is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. This didn’t even make it to my dining table – I stood and scoffed it in the kitchen, and had to be very disciplined about the second portion, which is tomorrows lunch!

I have made vegan alterations below for my vegan readers, and those that don’t have teasing, tempting cheeses loitering in their fridges…

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Ingredients, Serves Two at 43p each*.

100g leeks, 25p (£2.50/kg loose)
2 Savoy cabbage leaves, 8p (80p/cabbage)
100g pasta, 8p (39p/500g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (from a 1.25kg veg pack, £1)
Tablespoon of flour, 1p (65p/1.5kg)
15ml tablespoon of vegetable oil, 2p (£4.50/3l)
100ml soya milk, 6p (59p/1l, Unsweetened Soya Drink)
30g Smoked cheese, 23p (75p/100g)

1. Firstly, put the pasta water on to boil at the back of the stove.

2. Add a little oil to a saucepan. Finely chop the leek, peel and crush or finely chop the garlic, and finely chop the onion. Add to the pan on a low heat.

3. Cut the thick stems away from the middle of the cabbage, shred finely, and add to the pan.

4. When the vegetables have softened, tip into a bowl to one side and reserve.

5. Using the same saucepan, add a little extra oil, and the flour. Stir together quickly to make a paste.

6. Add a little soya milk (or ordinary milk, I used soya as I never have cows milk in the fridge these days) and stir constantly to make a smooth sauce. Use a wooden spoon or a fork to mix. Keep adding until you have a sauce of medium thickness.

7. Chop the smoked cheese into cubes; the rind is edible, so you can throw that in, or discard it if you wish. Add the vegetables back to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted.

8. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the now-boiling water and cook for a few minutes until soft.

9. Drain the pasta, and serve with the sauce on top. Enjoy!

Variations:

To make it vegan, omit the smoked cheese. Instead, add the vegetables to the white sauce with a splash of lemon and a pinch of nutmeg, and allow to cook for longer on a lower heat to infuse the flavours together.

If you’re a carnivore, this would be delicious with some cubes of bacon cooked in with the vegetables at the beginning.

Also going to try to make a beetroot and balsamic dip/chutney/accompaniment for this at some point in the future…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Carrot And Coriander Soup

Carrot and coriander soup is a classic fresh soup that crops up everywhere – from inside cardboard cartons in the supermarket to on smart restaurant menus. here’s my simple recipe for making your own. I often substitute the fresh potato and carrot for their tinned sisters, for an even easier version.

Serves 2

1 onion
4 carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
a fistful of fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and chop the onion and place into a medium-sized sauce- pan. Wash and chop the carrot and potato (without peeling), and add to the pan. Pour in cold water to cover (approximately 500ml), crumble in the stock cube and bring to the boil.

Add the parsley and coriander. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender and yield easily when prodded with a fork.

Remove from the heat and blend in a food processor until smooth. Serve hot.

Tips: Add a scant 1⁄2 a teaspoon of ground cumin or turmeric for a spicy soup. use less water (only 300ml) to make a lovely carroty pasta sauce instead of a soup.

‘Carrot & Coriander Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Earthy Mushroom Risotto, 27p

Earthy Mushroom Risotto, 54p for 2 portions at 27p each.

Risotto purists will be horrified at my use of bog standard rice while daring to still term this a risotto, but at 40p per kilo compared to £1.12 for 500g of arborio rice, I say I’d rather have six times as much of the stuff than be a snob about it. Plus I have a Small Boy in bed and a bag of Basics rice in the cupboard. So I’ll call this a risotto, and you guys can call me what you like.

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Ingredients:*

100g mushrooms, 24p (97p/400g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
30ml white wine, 14p (£3.48/750ml, Table Wine)
Oil, 2 tbsp, 4p (£4.15/3l)
Fistful each thyme and parsley, free(window ledge)
100g rice, 4p (40p/1kg)
400ml vegetable stock, 1p (10p for 10 cubes)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion and finely slice the garlic. Add to a sauté pan with oil over a low heat.

2. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until the edges start to turn translucent.

3. Pour over the wine and a little stock, and stir in.

4. Chop the mushrooms into small pieces (I do mine a few millimetres thick, but half an inch wide, if that makes any sense!) Add to the pan and stir in.

5. Keep adding the stock a little at a time, stirring stirring stirring. People pretend that making risotto is hard, but as long as you keep it on a low heat, add stock when it starts to dry out, and stir it a lot, you’ll be fine!

6. Finely chop the herbs (I pop mine in a teacup and go at it with kitchen scissors) and add most of them to the pan. Keep some to one side to garnish.

7. When the rice is al dente (slightly crunchy but edible) or softer depending on personal preference, remove from the heat and spoon into bowls.

If you want a more substantial meal, serve with a big pile of green veg. Would also go really well with chunks of roasted root veg, eg sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash.

Make It Posh variations:

If you aren’t a vegan, this would be delicious with a tablespoon of mascarpone stirred in before serving, or cream. Also could be lovely topped with Brie, if I wasn’t giving all that up.. Or goats cheese…

Feel free to make with arborio rice, add rosemary instead of thyme, grate some lemon rind in, use red onions or shallots instead of white onions – this is a base, play with it!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Red Lentil Bolognese

This meat-free Bolognese sauce is perfect over a bowl of pasta and topped with a handful of grated cheese. Allow 70 to 100g of dried pasta per person. I like to eat mine with some garlic bread as well, to mop up any leftover sauce.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 tablespoon oil
a fistful of fresh thyme
a fistful of fresh parsley
1 vegetable stock cube
50ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of c hopped tomatoes
100g dried brown or red lentils, rinsed
optional: 2 tablespoons tomato purée or tomato ketchup, to thicken the sauce
grated strong hard cheese, to serve

Peel and slice the onion, peel and crush the garlic, and put both into a large sauté or non-stick frying pan. Wash the carrot then grate into the pan and add the oil. Put on a low heat and fry gently, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

Chop the herbs – I place mine in a tea cup and cut into them with kitchen scissors – then add to the carrot, onion and garlic in the pan.

When the onions are softened, crumble in the stock cube and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée or ketchup, if using, and lentils. Stir in and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente (I like them to have a bit of a bite). You may need to add a small teacup of water if the sauce looks too dry, but use your judgement.

Once the lentils are done, it’s ready to serve. As with any Bolognese, this is delicious topped with a grating of strong hard cheese.

Tips: You can use up any spare Bolognese mixture as a topping for Penny Pizzas. This is also good cold or reheated, stuffed in a pitta or wrap with some grated cheese for next day’s lunch.

‘Lentil Bolognese’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Spring Piggy, 33p

Spring Piggy, serves 4 for £1.34, or 34p each.

This is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe for spring chicken, which was adapted in turn from a traditional rabbit recipe. That’s the thing about food, we all fiddle with it and tweak and make it posher or make it cheaper and add our own twists as we see fit. I didn’t have any chicken, but I did still have a generous hunk of that £1.09/670g bacon going begging, and a slightly pathetic half a savoy cabbage, so here’s what I did…

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Ingredients:*

300g bacon, 48p (£1.09/670g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc mixed vegetable pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc mixed vegetable pack, £1)
100ml white wine, 46p (Table Wine, £3.48/750ml)
1 chicken stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
2 tbsp natural yoghurt, 7p (65p/500ml)
1 tsp English mustard, 2p (46p per jar)
Fistful each of thyme and parsley, growing on my window ledge
1/8 savoy cabbage, 10p (80p each)
50g green beans, 7p (£1.40/kg, frozen)

How To:

1. Dice the bacon, and peel and chop the onion and finely slice the garlic. Add all to a large sauté pan with an optional splash of oil (I dry cook mine on a low heat, as enough fat usually comes out of the bacon, but you need to keep an eye on it and stir it frequently to disturb the onions and garlic and stop them from sticking).

2. Add the wine and chopped thyme and parsley, stir through and leave simmering on a low heat.

3. Chop the carrot (again, I don’t peel my veg, a quick but vociferous rinse usually does the trick, there’s so much goodness just under the skins of vegetables that it’s a shame to waste them). Add the chopped carrot to the pot.

4. Add 500ml of hot chicken stock, and stir in the mustard. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 mins, checking and stirring as you see fit.

5. Finely chop the savoy cabbage, and five mins before serving, add to the pot with the green beans. Stir the yoghurt through to make the sauce slightly creamy, this is optional but delicious.

6. Serve with mash or rice or bread. Also delicious tossed through spaghetti – in fact this works with most carbs!

Make It Posh variations:

It’s hard to improve on this, but use any baby root veg you have to hand. Sweet potato, baby turnips, swede, black salsify and parsnips all work well along with or instead of the carrot.

Add extra yoghurt or if you’re feeling flush, creme fraiche or cream work beautifully too. (I use yoghurt as its one of my food shop staples, instead of buying an alternative)

Add diced chicken the same time as the bacon, or chicken thighs on the bone a la Nigella – remember to seal on both sides before adding the wine and stock!

Will keep in the fridge for a few days, or freezer for about three months. If freezing, add a little extra stock or water to the sauce to allow it to coat the bacon and veg – this helps it to freeze better.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

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Beer & Sultana Bread

This recipe uses only part of a can or bottle of bitter, but don’t worry – pour the rest into a glass and pop it in the fridge to go flat, because you can make a Beery Berry Crumble out of that later. Waste not, want not! I use a cake tin to make this loaf in because I haven’t got any baking trays for some bizarre reason, but that works really well in keeping the lovely ’round’ shape. Serve the bread warm cut into chunks like a scone, with butter and plum, fig or a jam of your choice. Mmm!

Makes 1 small loaf

200g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
a small knob of fresh ginger, peeled, or a pinch of dried ginger
50g sultanas
160ml bitter, beer or ale

Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast. grate in the ginger, add the sultanas and mix through quickly with a fork or wooden spoon. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add a generous splash of bitter. Mix the liquid into the flour and keep adding the bitter little by little until it forms a sticky dough.

Tip the dough on to a well-floured work surface and knead and stretch for 10 minutes. Form it into a rounded lump shape then leave to rise for at least half an hour, uncovered.

knock the excess air out of the risen dough – but keeping the rounded shape – and place into a lightly greased cake tin, Victoria sandwich tin or on to a baking tray. Cover with cling film and leave the dough to rise in the tin for 1 to 2 hours until it’s doubled in size.

A little before the end of the rising time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

Uncover the dough. Score the top with two lines each way like you’re going to play noughts and crosses on it, and pop the tin into the middle of the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Take the bread out of the oven, turn out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Then cut into thick slices and devour with butter. I start eating mine as soon as it’s cool enough to touch!

Tips: The best way to peel ginger is by scraping away the skin with a teaspoon.

Add a heaped tablespoon of oats to the flour and yeast mixture, and sprinkle some more on top of the
dough before putting it in the oven.

Use finely chopped fresh plums or dried prunes instead of the sultanas.

‘Beer And Sultana Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

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Oh My God Dinner, 28p

Oh My God Dinner (or, ‘I Was Going To Make Pasta Alla Genovese And Then I Remembered That Sodding Courgette Rolling Around In My Fridge…’) 55p for 2 portions, or just under 28p each.

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Ingredients:*

70g bacon, 11p (£1.09/670g)
1 chilli (free, grows on my window ledge)
80g spaghetti, 6p (39p/500g)
Fistful each parsley, mint, basil (free, grows on my window ledge)
10ml lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml)
50g green beans, 7p (£1.40/kg, frozen)
20g Brie, 11p (£1.09/200g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs with average 8 cloves each)
1/2 courgette, 15p (£1.80/kg, 6 in my bag)

How To:

1. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the sauté pan with the lemon juice (10ml is 2 teaspoons), diced courgette and chopped chilli. Cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally to turn.

2. In the meantime, break the spaghetti in half and add to a pan of boiling water with the green beans. Leave to boil according to packet instructions, usually 7-10 minutes.

3. Add the herbs to a teacup, bowl or other small receptacle and chop finely with kitchen scissors. Crush the garlic in and stir.

4. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and tip into the sauté pan with the bacon and courgettes in. Stir the herbs and garlic through, and add chunks of diced Brie. Remove from heat and toss together, the Brie will melt slightly to form an almost-sauce.

Makes enough for two but, er, I ate this all myself….

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Photography by Susan Bell.

Mumma Jacks Best Ever Chilli

This chilli is adapted from a beef chilli recipe by Gordon Ramsay. I simply left out the beef and halved the wine to make it cheaper – plus, of course, Mr Ramsay doesn’t use a tin of cheap baked beans in his version! I’ve tweaked and fiddled with it so much over the years that now it’s not Gordon’s chilli, it’s Mumma Jack’s.

Serves 4

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of baked beans in tomato sauce or plain haricot beans
1 onion
1 small chilli, chopped
a shake of paprika
a shake of ground cumin
a splash of oil
75ml red table wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
3 squares dark chocolate

Tip both tins of beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly. If you are using baked beans in tomato sauce, make sure to rinse it all off. Pop the beans into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Peel and dice the onion and put into a large sauté pan along with the chopped chilli, paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook on a low heat until the onion softens into a spicy sweetness. Pour in the wine, add the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cube, then simmer all together on a low heat.

When the beans have softened, drain and tip into the sauce. Add the chocolate and stir until the beans are mixed through and the chocolate is melted.

Tips: This chilli will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days if allowed to cool and stored in an airtight container. Delicious eaten cold stuffed in pitta breads or wraps for next day’s lunch.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Warm Spicy Daal by Jack Monroe

Warm Spicy Daal

There are many different recipes for daal, made with different types of split peas, lentils and even chickpeas, so here is a simple basic one to get you started. From here, feel free to customize to your own taste by adding plain yoghurt, coconut yoghurt or different herbs and spices. I like to eat mine from a deep bowl with a toasted pitta bread or two – or a naan bread if you can stretch to that.

Serves 3

100g dried red lentils
1 onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a splash of oil
1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in 1 litre boiling water
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander, plus extra to serve

Rinse the lentils in cold water and drain. Place in a saucepan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises with a spoon.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion into small pieces and place into a small frying pan with the cumin and oil. Fry gently for a few minutes to release the spice’s flavour and soften the onion. Then add to the saucepan containing the lentils along with the stock, chopped tomatoes and coriander.

Reduce to a low heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are swollen. Check towards the end of cooking and add a little more water if required.

Stir well, then serve garnished with more chopped coriander.

Tip: If you’ve got some, use coconut milk instead of the chopped tomatoes and substitute ground turmeric for the ground cumin for a rich, sweet, creamier tasting version.

‘Warm Spicy Daal’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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