Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

Sort-of paella, 67p

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

The star of the show in this paella is the simple coloured rice, cooked al dente, accentuated with bright red tomatoes and little green peas. This recipe is delicious on its own, or can be used as a base. Feel free to add chopped peppers, seasonal vegetables, any meat or fish of your choice, a glass of white wine, a splash of sherry – whatever your budget or your cupboard will allow. But for me, nothing beats a fistful of tiny little prawns, half a cup of peas and a spoon to eat it with.

Traditional paella uses saffron strands to colour the rice, but I use bright yellow turmeric powder instead. This is a fraction of the cost and much more versatile, as it can be used in Saag Aloo, Spiced Potato Soup and many, many curry recipes besides. Traditional paella also uses a fat short-grain rice, but I use the ordinary long-grain store cupboard stuff because it’s what I have to hand. And a rice is a rice is a rice, as far as I’m concerned.

Serves 2 at 67p each*

2 tablespoons oil, 4p
1 onion (around 180g), 10p
2 cloves of garlic, 4p
500ml chicken or vegetable stock, 3p
a scant 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 3p
200g tinned chopped tomatoes, 18p
150g rice, 7p
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1p
70g fresh or frozen peas or green beans, cut into lengths, 8pea (couldn’t resist!)
100g fresh or frozen cooked prawns, 77p

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan or sauté pan. Peel and finely slice the onion, peel and finely chop or crush the garlic, and put both into the pan to soften for a few minutes on a medium heat. Take care not to brown them, as the slightly burnt taste will permeate through the whole dish.
Meanwhile bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a separate small saucepan and shake in the turmeric.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the rice to the frying pan with the onion and garlic and stir.
Chop the thyme, add to the pan and stir again briefly to combine. Pour a cup of the hot stock into the pan, then stir well to stop the rice from sticking.
When the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another cup. Repeat until all the stock is used up, or the rice is soft. unlike risotto, you do not need to stir paella constantly, but a little stir every now and again is helpful to stop the rice from sticking to the pan.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the frozen peas or beans and the cooked prawns, stir and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the prawns are warmed through.

Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to settle. Traditionally you’d drizzle a little extra oil over the top, to serve. And maybe a pinch of salt.

‘Sort-Of Paella’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy from lots of lovely places but my fave is Hive, supporting local independent bookshops. The lovely photo is by Susan Bell.

I calculated the costs based on my most recent Sainsburys shop, but most other supermarkets and local shops sell rice and onions and stuff like that, at similar prices. If you find anything at a Super Bargainous Price, comment below and let us all know!

Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 80p/1.5kg. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics chicken stock cubes 25p/10. Turmeric £1/42g. Basics chopped tomatoes 35p/400g. Basics rice 45p/1kg. Basics mixed dried herbs, 40p/14g. Basics frozen peas £1.40/1.2kg. Basics frozen prawns, £2.30/300g.

On Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

Photography by Susan Bell

Peach and chickpea curry

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I sometimes make it with turkey, so feel free to chuck a fistful of it in with the onions if you fancy it. Serve it with plain boiled rice.

Serves 2 for dinner, with leftovers for a light lunch.

250g canned chickpeas (drained weight)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 chilli
a splash of oil
1 rounded tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins)
1 x 400f carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 stock cube, veg or chicken

First drain your chickpeas and rinse them vigorously to get rid of the stagnant water that they’ll have been sitting in. Pop them in some fresh water in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 10 minutes to soften (and get rid of any toxins…there’s differing beliefs about toxins in canned pulses and I’m of the ‘a good boil won’t hurt them’ school of thought…)

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli. Pour a little oil into a medium, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, garlic and chilli, then the cumin, and cook gently on a low heat for a few minutes to soften the onion. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up – burned onions will permeate your whole curry, whereas sweating them will add a delicious sweetness.

Drain the peaches, reserving the juice, and chop into small pieces. Add to the onion mixture in the pan, along with the reserved juice. By this time, the chickpeas should have finished boiling, so remove them from the heat and drain them, and tip them into the peaches-and-onion pan.

Pour the chopped tomatoes in, add the coriander, and crumble over the stock cube, then stir everything together. Reduce the heat to a low setting, and cook gently for 30 minutes. You may need to add a cup of water to the sauce if it starts to get a bit thick. Stir well, and serve.

‘Peach and chickpea curry’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy here.

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

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

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CAULI, FENNEL & GARLIC SOUP

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This wholesome, earthy soup is packed with flavour from the sweet roasted onions and unmistakable taste of fennel.

(Serves 2) 49p a portion
400g cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen, 60p
1 potato, diced, 9p
1 onion, quartered, 9p
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled 6p
Scant teaspoon of fennel seeds, 5p
2 tbsp oil, 6p
500ml vegetable stock, 2p

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark six.

Put the cauliflower, potato and onion into a large roasting dish.

Bruise the garlic cloves by bashing with a rolling pin or wooden spoon, and add to the roasting dish.

Combine the fennel and oil, pour over the vegetables, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, peel the garlic cloves from their papery skins, and transfer to a blender, ensuring you scrape in the oil and fennel seeds.

Pour over stock to cover and blend until smooth.

Tip: The leftover soup makes a delicious pasta bake. Simply thin with a little water, milk or stock, pour over pasta with a fistful of strong cheese, and bake in the centre of the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark four for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is golden and crispy.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 19th February. Photography by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.

READER RECIPES: LINDA’S CURRIED SOUP

I received this recipe from Linda this morning, and it sounds absolutely delicious. If you don’t have curry powder, a teaspoon of cumin would be a good substitute. It’s that time of year when curried soup is a most welcome thing! Thanks Linda!

Linda’s Curried Soup

1 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion
1 large parsnip
3 or 4 large carrots
1 green pepper
1.5 litres boiling water + 1 or 2 veggie stock cubes
1 tsp mild curry powder

Dice onion and sauté in oil till onion is soft but not browned.
Stir in curry powder and then all the rest of the veggies (small dice).
Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the veggies are soft. This probably takes about half an hour, but I didn’t time it!
As the veggies are cut up into small dice the soup cooks quite quickly.
Blend with a stick blender and serve.

It is a tasty soup and a useful and thrifty way of using up those odd veggies. The first time I made it I used a wrinkly green pepper which would have been thrown out in many households but it made a good addition to the soup.

The soup has a good butternut squash colour and a lovely creamy consistency.
My husband loved the first batch and was delighted when he saw me making it again yesterday!”

If you have a favourite thrifty recipe you would like to see here, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk

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

Reader recipes: Andrew’s spicy lentil and tomato soup

I had this lovely email yesterday, with a delicious soup recipe that sounds perfect for winter lunches or light suppers… If I was making it with what was in the cupboard, i’d use a veg stock cube instead of bouillon and trusty chopped tomatoes, but only because I usually have them kicking around! Thanks Andrew for sharing, I hope you all enjoy this one.

Love your website and what you do for budget cooking and food poverty awareness. I made this the other day and it was lovely (and cheap):

Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup

One small onion
One leek
One small carrot
Tsp olive/sunflower oil
6 medium fresh tomatoes
1 tsp dried organo
Tablespoon tomato puree
Half tsp cayenne pepper
Tablespoon veg bouillon powder (low salt)
200g Red lentils

Method

Put tomatoes in boiling water.
Gently fry finely chopped onion, leek and grated carrot until soft but not brown.
Use water from tomatoes to make up veg stock, skin and chop toms.
Add toms, oregano, cayenne pepper and puree to pan and fry the mix until soft but not sticking to the pan (about 5 mins).
Mash down and bit with potato masher (you can blend if you like smooth soup, I don’t).
Add veg stock and bring to the boil.
Wash lentils until water is clear and then add to soup.
Cook gently until lentils are soft but still intact, add more water, seasoning as necessary.
Great with fresh homemade wholemeal bread.

Don’t know how much it costs but not much, tastes delicious and makes absolutely loads.

Love

Andrew

If you have a favourite frugal recipe you would like to share, please email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk – thanks!

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

Reader Recipes: Charlotte’s Borscht

I was sent this recipe by a lovely reader, Charlotte, so thought I would share it here. If you have a recipe you would like to share, email it to me on jackmonroe@live.co.uk

I am trying to be really thrifty at the moment as I’m on a postgraduate student living allowance which is being squeezed from every direction. I was making dinner last night and needed to use up some beetroot so I made a vague approximation of borscht, I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing you or your readers might like.

Ingredients:
Pack of four cooked (not pickled) beetroot, in small cubes
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Diced small onion
Vegetable stock cube in about 700mL water
Pinch of paprika
Tablespoon plain yogurt
Black pepper
Mixed herbs

I browned the onion and then added the beetroot and the juice from the packet. In next was the stock, the pepper and the herbs. I simmered this for about 10 minutes and then mashed the bits of beetroot with a potato masher. Normally I’d use a stick blender to get it really smooth but mine gave up a couple of months back. I then added the yogurt, followed by a pinch of paprika. I served this with cous cous but it would also go well with bread. This served four adults so I think this works out at about 50p a portion (I shop at Aldi).

All the very best, Charlotte.

Spiced chicken and mandarin tagine, 68p.

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This spiced chicken and mandarin tagine will serve us for two nights in a row – the chicken legs were a rare treat in this week’s shopping but I’ll get two nights dinner from them, plus a stock base for a soup or risotto on Wednesday. I still rifled through the bottom shelf to find the cheapest pack, and thought I had it at £1.92, but then found one for £1.88 instead! (I’ll do something with the half a can of mandarins tomorrow too…)

Ingredients (Serves four):

4 chicken legs, £1.88 (Sainsburys Basics)
1 large onion, 11p (loose, Sainsburys)
2 fat cloves of garlic, 5p (£1.90/10 bulbs avg 8 cloves each, Sainsburys)
400g chopped tomatoes, 35p (Happy Shopper)
1/2 can broken mandarin segments, 12p (23p/312g, Sainsburys Basics)
15ml white wine vinegar, 3p (£1.15/500ml, Sainsburys)
15ml lemon juice, 4p (60p/250ml, Sainsburys)
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, 2p (20p for 10, Sainsburys Basics)
1 tsp cumin, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainsburys)
1 tsp turmeric, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainburys)
1 tsp paprika, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainsburys)
1 small red chilli – herb garden
Handful of fresh parsley – herb garden
Handful of fresh mint – herb garden

First, place the chicken legs skin side down in a large non stick pan (I used my ‘everything’ sauté pan that I’ve had for an age and literally do most of my dinners in…)

Bring the pan to a very gentle heat to seep some of the fat from the chicken, or add a splash of oil to speed things up.

Brown the chicken on both sides on a medium heat.

Peel and slice the onion and garlic, and finely slice the chilli, and toss into the pan with a teaspoon each of paprika, turmeric and cumin. Crumble in the stock cube.

Add the wet ingredients: chopped tomatoes, mandarins and juice, the white wine vinegar and lemon juice, and stir well to combine.

Throw in the herbs, and bring the pan to the boil, then reduce to a medium simmer for around 20 minutes to cook the chicken through. Top up with half a cup of water if it starts to dry out.

Meanwhile, boil some plain rice to accompany.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and serve with the rice.

To make it much cheaper, replace the chicken with chick peas and start from the ‘onion and garlic’ stage…

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

A Girl Called Jack is available to order here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Girl-Called-Jack-Monroe/dp/0718178947

Red Wine And Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are one of my staple products, being both cheaply available at supermarkets and greengrocers, and simple enough to grow at home. I’m a tactile cook, so I like to break them up with my hands instead of slicing them, but it doesn’t make a difference to the end result of the recipe. If you like this and you have red wine and mushrooms left over, try making the Earthy Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto…

Serves 2

200g mushrooms
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 300ml boiling water
50ml red wine
a handful of chopped thyme, plus extra to garnish

Gently clean any excess earth from the mushrooms with a clean tea towel, and break or slice them up. Peel and chop the onion and peel and crush the garlic. Put the mushrooms into a saucepan along with the stock, wine, thyme, onion and garlic.

Bring to the boil, then reduce down to a simmer for 20 minutes for all the flavours to meld. Remove from the heat and pulse in a blender.

Serve with extra chopped thyme to garnish.

Tips: Replace the red wine with white wine and add a tablespoon of natural yoghurt just before blending for a lighter, more traditional creamy mushroom soup. garnish with some grated strong hard cheese.

Mix any leftover soup with a carton or tin of chopped tomatoes and some cooked red or brown lentils for a hearty pasta sauce that can be frozen in portions, and defrosted for a quick and easy dinner.

‘Red Wine And Mushroom Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell

Mexican Chocolate, Chilli & Black Bean Soup

I knocked up this soup when I had a piteous cold last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness with chillies to fire me 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 this soup!

Serves 2

100g dried black beans
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small red chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes
a generous shake of paprika
a generous shake of ground cumin
a splash of oil
1 carrot
30ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
3 squares dark chocolate (approximately 20g)
fresh parsley, to garnish

Put your beans in to soak the night before, or early in the morning if you’re going to be cooking that evening. Place them in a bowl, cover with fresh cold water and then some, and cover the bowl with cling film. Leave for a minimum of 8 hours to soak.

When soaked, drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Put them into a saucepan with fresh water and bring to the boil for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli (reserving a couple of slices for a garnish), then put them all into a saucepan along with the paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the red wine and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. (I prefer to leave mine just slightly chunky, but if pulsed thoroughly, this makes a deliciously silky texture.) Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley and a slice of red chilli in each bowl.

Tips: Grill pitta breads with cheese inside – until it melts –and serve these dunked in the soup for a seriously tasty treat!

Swirl cream, natural yoghurt or crème fraîche on top before serving.

This recipe uses almost identical ingredients to Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli, so why not make them together?

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘Mexican Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Earthy Red Wine & Mushroom Risotto, 36p.

Earthy Red Wine & Mushroom Risotto, Serves One. 36p.

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Still needing easy but comforting food with this cold, I decided to go for carbs and wine and goodness… I’ve never known anyone else to use red wine as a risotto base before – that’s not to say its not been done, I’ve just not seen it – but this works beautifully. As far as comfort food goes, I had finished this, from a bowl on the sofa wrapped in a heavy blanket, before I had finished typing the recipe…

Ingredients:*

30ml Red Wine, 14p (Table Wine, £3.48/750ml)
50g Mushrooms, 12p (97p/400g)
50g rice, 2p (40p/1kg)
1/2 Vegetable Stock cube in 400ml water, 1p (10 for 15p)
Clove of Garlic, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves per bulb)
Tsp Mixed herbs, 1p (14p for a jar)
Tomato purée, 2p (49p/200g)
Splash of oil, 1p (Vegetable oil £4.50/3l)

How To:

1. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan, the one I used was 20cm across but I was only cooking for me!

2. Peel and finely slice the garlic and add to the pan. Chop the mushrooms into small chunks and add to the pan. Shake the herbs over and allow to cook together for a few minutes.

3. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. When the rice starts to turn translucent, add the wine and tomato purée, stirring constantly to prevent any of the rice sticking to the pan.

4. When the wine is almost all absorbed, start to add the stock, a ladle at a time. Stir in until almost all absorbed, and repeat until either the stock is gone or the rice is cooked.

Add some additional herbs to taste and serve with crusty bread if you wish.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Email: jack.monroe@nqe.com

*(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.)

Feisty Soup

I make this for myself whenever I feel as though I am coming down with a cold. you know – when you’ve got that shaky, exhausted feeling and general self-pity. Instead of spending a fortune on various over-the-counter paracetamol and lemon drinks, I drag myself into the kitchen and cook myself a cure. This is called feisty soup for a reason: it’s a bit like hot and sour Chinese soup in a way, and if this doesn’t help shift whatever is wrong with you, I’m not sure what will. I’ve combined lots of natural goodies that have antioxidant and other nutritional qualities – garlic for goodness, chillies to fire up your system, tomatoes for vitamin C and lemon and ginger to cleanse and revitalize.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a thick slice of ginger
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
juice of 1⁄2 a lemon or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
a handful of parsley

Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger, chop the chilli, and put them all into a medium-sized saucepan with the oil. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, pour in the stock and add the lemon juice.
Chop the parsley and add to the saucepan as well.

Simmer away for about 20 minutes, until the onion and ginger have softened.

Blitz in a blender to achieve your desired consistency, I leave mine a bit chunky but it can be blended smooth.

Eat, and feel better soon!

Tips: If making this soup for little mouths, do not chop the chilli or use the seeds inside. Instead, halve the chilli down the middle and rinse it under a cold tap to remove the seeds, then add to the soup whole during cooking. Remove before blending.

Any remaining soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

The soup can be left whole and chunky as a fiery sauce to form part of a more substantial meal. Omit the stock, stir through a few handfuls of cooked prawns and some green beans, and serve with spaghetti or noodles.

‘Feisty Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Gigantes Plaki

Gigantes Plaki literally means ‘Really Big Beans’! I’m heading back to my Mediterranean roots with this simple but delicious dish. I can have it for dinner, then lunch the next day and pulse any leftovers into a soup. It makes me chuckle to see these spicy butterbeans retailing for almost £5 per pot in certain supermarkets, when they’re really just bigger, better baked beans. you can either soak dried beans overnight in cold water – which means they will need to be drained, rinsed and boiled vigorously for 10 minutes separately to the sauce in order to get rid of any toxins – or use a tin of ready-prepared butter beans, which is more expensive but more convenient. If cooking with dried butter beans, use only 150g. I like to serve this dish with rice and green beans as a vegetarian meal, or it is great with baked chicken or fish.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a splash of oil
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a splash of lemon juice
1⁄2 a bunch of fresh basil, plus extra to garnish
1 x 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 vegetable stock cube
75g Greek cheese (such as feta), crumbled

Finely chop the onion and garlic and put into a large saucepan along with the oil and cinnamon. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened, then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to simmer on a low heat for a few more minutes.

Chop all the basil stalks. Add the lemon juice, chopped basil stalks and half the basil leaves (leaving the other half aside for a garnish) and stir in, continuing to simmer.

Stir in the butter beans and crumble in the vegetable stock cube, with a little water if necessary. Stir well to dissolve.

Simmer all together on a low heat for approximately 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve garnished with the crumbled cheese and remaining basil leaves.

Tips: Gigantes Plaki can also be eaten cold as a mezze or snack, or mixed with leftover rice and stuffed into a pitta bread for next day’s lunch – it’s delicious cold and perfectly portable.

If you don’t have any basil, this is also very good made with parsley or mint…

You can make fab burgers from this mixture. Just strain off the tomato sauce, crush and add an extra clove of garlic and a pinch of dried chilli flakes, then gently mash the beans and shape into burgers with floured hands. Fry for a few minutes on each side.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Bubbles And Squeaks, 7p each.

Bubbles And Squeaks. Makes 10 bubble and squeak patties at 7p each, eat one or two or five, depending on how hungry you are. I was really hungry, so didn’t even get a picture of these. However I have half the mix left in the fridge for tonights dinner, so will fry it up and snap it later. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for ridiculously cheap food.
Ingredients:*
2 potatoes, 10p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1)
1 onion, 5p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1)
¼ cabbage, 20p (Savoy Cabbage, 80p)
1 egg, 23p ( free range medium eggs, £1.40 for 6)
Tbsp flour, 2p (65p/1.5kg)
Tbsp lard, 4p (49p/250g)
Vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)

How To:
1. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium sized saucepan.
2. Dice the potatoes and carrots (I don’t peel mine, but this is optional) and add to the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until they are soft. I find prodding a knife into the saucepan is a good indicator; if it slides through a chunk of potato smoothly, you’re good to go.
3. While the root veg is boiling, take a separate saucepan and add a little lard or oil to it. Some of you may balk at the thought of using lard – I was brought up cooking eggs and bread at my grandfathers guest houses along the seafront, and we used the stuff all the time. Feel free to use some sort of oil if you’d rather, but I find slicing off a chunk of lard is a much better indicator of fat content than a nice slosh of oil. To be blunt – I use less lard than oil simply because of how it looks! Anyway… Finely slice the onion and cabbage and add to the saucepan, and fry gently until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally to allow it all to cook.
4. When the root veg is cooked, drain it and tip back into the saucepan. Add the onions and cabbage and mash together thoroughly with a masher.
5. Add the egg and flour and stir.
6. This is an optional stage but keeps it together more successfully, however if you’re in a rush and willing to keep an eye on it, it’s not essential. I scoop the mash into a bowl and refrigerate it for an hour or two to allow it to set a little. As I said, optional, but I use this setting time to wash up the pans!
7. Heat some oil/lard/fat in a frying pan, and dollop a spoon of mashed veg mixture into it. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork or spatula, and cook on a medium heat until golden and crisp on one side (depends on your hob, but mine takes about 7 minutes). Turn over and cook the other side. You may need to do these in batches, but cook until all the mixture is used up.
Variations:
You might like to add cheese to the mix, if you like that sort of thing.
Also, you can use pretty much any vegetables you like in bubble and squeak. I likt to make a posh version with parsnip and red onion, when I have them both lying about. Sweet potato is also a good base, extra carrot will make it sweeter and peas will sneak extra veg into your kids. Play with it and see what you come up with.
Oh, and I had mine with a fried egg and some ketchup, but depending on your budget and preferences, you can have bubble and squeak with sausages, or roast chicken and veg, or on its own as a lunch or snack… Do what you like.

They keep cold for a few days to have with bacon and an egg as brunch, too. Or you could be a heathen, like me, and snack on them from the fridge.

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.)

Vegetable Masala Curry, 30p.

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Proper Vegetable Masala Curry, 89p, serves 3-4 at less than 30p each.

This isn’t vegan. I tried but my pre-first-work-pay-packet budget just couldn’t stretch to £1.99 coconut milk versus 32p of natural yoghurt. I’ve failed my Lent experiment but I’m happy to hold my hands up and say ‘have a fabulous curry recipe’ while I feel a bit guilty about succumbing to yogurt. It was that or miss a couple of meals, and I’m sure nobody will hold it against me. Much.

Ingredients:*

1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 potato, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves per bulb)
1 carton chopped tomatoes, 35p
1/2 pot natural yoghurt, 32p (65p/500g)
1 vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
Fistful of parsley and coriander, free
Shake of garam masala, 3p approx (£1.19/42g)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion, and peel and finely slice the garlic, and place in a large sauté pan on a low heat with a splash of oil.

2. Chop the potato, carrot and onion (I dice mine into half inch cubes) and add to the pot, stirring. Halve the chilli and rinse the seeds out (quicker than faffing about with a knife) and add in, so it can be lifted out whole at the end to prevent little mouths getting a hot surprise. You can slice it extremely finely if you want, but life’s too short.

3. Chop the herbs and throw in, with a liberal sprinkle of garam masala.

4. Add 200ml vegetable stock, the carton of chopped tomatoes and 250g of natural yoghurt, stir through, and leave to simmer on a low heat.

5. The trick with curry – good curry – is to allow it to cook slowly and gently in order that the flavours infuse and meld together in an amalgamation of spicy goodness. I let mine simmer gently for about forty minutes, checking and adding stock or water if it starts to dry out.

Serve with plain boiled rice at around 3p per person for 75g Sainsburys Basics.

Make it posh and variations:

1. You can substitute the yoghurt for coconut milk if your budget allows for it, for a sweeter, creamier taste, or if you’re a vegan.

2. Add fennel seeds and crushed cardamom pods for sweetness – I normally would but I don’t have any to hand and this weeks budget wouldn’t allow for an extra ‘spice’ in the spice rack. I try to buy one a week to build the collection up.

3. When cooking the boiled rice, add a shake of turmeric, half a vegetable stock cube, a star anise, some scraped-out cardamom pods and a handful of sultanas for a seriously special accompaniment. Again, I’m surveying my spice rack sadly, and might put one of them on next weeks shopping list!

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.)

Really Tomatoey Basilly Soup

This is so simple that I feel cheeky calling it a recipe, but it’s one for all those folks that say to me, ‘Oh I’d love to make soup but I don’t know where to start.’ well, start here and see where it takes you. There’s even some chopping of vegetables involved, so brace yourselves. Tinned soup contains among other things modified maize starch, whey powder, ascorbic acid and other things I’m not entirely sure what they are – so make my own and get something good inside you.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 large carrot
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 400ml boiling water
1 x 400g carton or tin chopped tomatoes
a generous handful of fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil

Peel and slice the onion, and wash and chop the carrot and potato into small pieces. (I make mine 0.5cm thick or less so they cook faster and blend more easily. I also leave the skins on for all the extra goodness.)

Put all the vegetables into a saucepan and pour in the stock to cover. Tip the chopped tomatoes over the top, add the basil and bring to an enthusiastic boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to its own souper-duper devices for approximately 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Test by poking a fork into one of them – if it goes through easily, then they’re done.

Blend in a food processor until smooth, and serve hot.
Tip: This will keep in the fridge for about 3 days – but use your discretion, I keep my fridge extra cold so food lasts longer. Cool and freeze in an airtight container for approximately 3 months.

‘Really Tomatoey Basilly Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

LOVE SOUP

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

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 ones. By chance, the ingredients for this were what I had kicking around in the fridge last Valentines 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 soft silky soup. Not in my book, anyway.

Serves 2 – of course!

3 tablespoons oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger (approximately 1cm) or 1 tsp ground ginger
a fistful of fresh coriander
a fistful of fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 large onion
2 large carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, dissolved in 500ml water

Preheat the oven to 180C.

First make the marinade for the vegetables. Measure the oil into a tea cup, jug or other small receptacle. Finely grate the lemon zest into the oil, peel and crush the garlic and grate the ginger, then add them too. Finely chop the herbs and add to the mixture. Squeeze the lemon juice in – as much of it as you can squish out – then stir together and set aside.

Peel the onion, chop into quarters and place in a roasting dish. Wash then chop the carrots into thick rounds and add to the roasting dish. Peel and dice the potato and add it too. Pour the marinade over the top and shake to coat the vegetables. Pop the roasting dish into the preheated oven for 40 minutes or so, shaking occasionally to loosen the vegetables an re-coat in the marinade.

When the carrots and potatoes are tender, remove the vegetables from the oven and tip into a blender. Dissolve the stock cube in 500ml boiling water and pour into the blender to cover the veg. Blend until smooth, and serve with a flourish of parsley and a smile.

Love soup recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy at The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available from major retailers and supermarkets.

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

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

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

Photography by Susan Bell

Moroccan Not-A-Tagine

This tagine uses my three staple spices – turmeric, cumin and paprika – to deliver a gorgeous sweet and spicy dinner. I made it for Xanthe Clay from the Daily Telegraph when she visited for an article called ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’. In her words: ‘the food is very fine, and it’s also healthy’ – so what are you waiting for? I like to serve mine with couscous and rice, and green vegetables.

Serves 4:

1 large onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 heaped tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 heaped tsp paprika
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
a fistful of fresh mint, chopped
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 large potatoes or 40g tinned potatoes (drained weight)
50g prunes
1 stock cube, dissolved in 500ml boiling water

Peel and dice the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic and chop the chilli, and place in a medium sized heavy-bottomed pan with the oil, lemon zest, turmeric, cumin and paprika. Cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened. Then add the lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, sugar, mint and coriander, and stir everything together.

Chop the potatoes and carrots and add to the pan, along with the prunes. Pour in enough stock to cover – usually around 500ml. Leave the pan simmering, covered, on the hob for 30 minutes, checking it every now and again to ensure it is not drying out. Give it a quick stir while you’re there too, to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

You’ll know it’s ready when the vegetables are tender (but not falling apart in a mush!) and the sauce has thickened.

‘Not A Tagine’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy 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