When you return home from holiday on a Sunday evening, and all the shops in your vicinity adhere to the Sunday Trading Laws like Santa keeps to his rigid reindeer-driven time table … and don’t tell me there’s no Santa because I swear that I saw him driving a taxi in Baden Baden, Germany, last week … well, what the heck do you fix for dinner when the fridge only contains an onion, a sprouting clove of garlic, 2 limp carrots, and a few stalks of wobbly celery. The pantry is fairly lean as well. I can count everything in there on the fingers of one hand: a tin of Italian plum tomatoes, chickpeas, crisp sweet corn, and a few dried chilli peppers. Well, you scrounge the garden for edibles and collect a leek, a few courgettes, two potatoes missed somehow by my spade, and then you head back into the kitchen and do a lot of chopping. And pretend that you’re really happy to be back home from a fabulous two week holiday.
Prep: Dice to thumbnail size: courgettes, carrots, celery, peeled potatoes, and onion. Cut the leek into 1/2 inch rings, and crush the garlic straight into the pot with a bit of olive oil. Sauté the garlic for a few seconds, and then take the pot off the heat.
Method: Pour the tomatoes and juice from the tin into the pot with the garlic. I used a handblender to purée the tinned tomatoes right in the pot so it’s smooth, and then filled the empty tin with water to rinse out the remaining bits of tomato – that went straight into the pot along with a tablespoon of liquid concentrate chicken bouillon. Then I tossed all of the chopped ingredients (except the courgette) into the pot, all chopped at approximately the same size for similar cooking times, and simmered until just barely tender (5-10 minutes). Then I threw in the cubed courgette and sweet corn so that they simply warmed in the soup rather than cooking. Overcooked courgette is totally icky. Taste and adjust for saltiness, and then add a good handful of parsley and stir.
While all that was going on, I toasted a few thickly sliced pieces of homemade sourdough from the freezer.
And that was my re-introduction to my kitchen after two weeks off duty.
And what can I say; it was totally delicious.
And yet I’d rather still be on holiday, thank you very much.
p.s. I refreshed the limp and wobbly carrots and celery in very cold water for about 5-minutes, and then they were as good as new.