First up, here’s a heart-warming, romantic exchange that Cowboy and I had early on in my trip out there this summer. I had asked him what he wanted from Walmart, and he said he needed shower gel.
B: What kind do you like? Irish Spring?
C: That’s worked so far. If you want to get me something else, go ahead.
B: Do you want me to get something else?
C: If you want me to use it, sure.
B: It’s nice that you’re making an effort when I’m around…
C: That’s what I’m saying – if you want me to use something else, you buy it and I’ll use it. I’ll let you make my effort for me.
See? Who says romance is dead? In the end I bought him the same shower gel he’s always used (because it’s cheap and I like the smell of it these days).
Soup! I had some broccoli pining in my fridge and some onions arrived in my vegbox today, plus soup is always a comforting thing to have in the freezer. I also really wanted something comforting in my stomach today. It’s been one of those days.
Being conscious of the fact that I can’t afford to buy new jeans and I need to stay the size of my current jeans, I like to steer away from recipes involving cream. This soup ends up a creamy consistency, and packs a lovely flavour, but is a touch less sinful than the cream varieties.
First up, slice up an onion and set it frying over some low heat in a little oil. I had half a courgette (that’s zucchini to my America readers) hanging about in the fridge too, so I threw that in.
I love making soup in my one Le Creuset saucepan. It’s indestructible and orange.
Chunk up the broccoli, stalk, leaves and all. It’s all good nutritious stuff.
Throw it in with the onions and give it a good stir.
Then dice up some potato – I used a small baking potato, because I’m not educated about the differences between varieties of potato, and didn’t care – and throw it in too.
I also suck at chopping, so I tend to use big chunks of stuff.
I only had the remains of a chicken stock cube, so that’s what I used! Throw it in the pan, and cover with a little over half a litre of boiling water. Essentially, enough water to just cover the veg and make sure those potatoes cook through.
Add freshly ground black pepper, and some freshly grated nutmeg. There’s nothing more marvellous than nutmeg.
Look at those fabulous stripes. I don’t know about you, but I sort of see Totoro in them…
What was I saying? Seasoning! Don’t worry too much about amounts just yet. The tasting and refining comes later.
Look at that lovely goodness… Mmmm… Let it simmer on a medium-low heat.
Cheese! Get your cheddar out. Grate a good handful or two.
(Side-note: there’s a traditional soup recipe which is broccoli and stilton. Blue cheese isn’t really my bag, plus it’s expensive… Feel free to use stilton instead of cheddar if you love that blue cheese thing)
I like to use strong cheddar – at least a 4 or 5, because that way you get more taste from less cheese, and that’s cheaper (in my head). This cheese came from Aldi. Don’t dismiss Aldi when you’re shopping – they have some wonderful products that I fill my stores with, and they are wonderfully cheap.
Once the potatoes are soft, blend your soup up. I use one of those stick blenders because I like how little washing up it generates. I don’t like how much it splatters me, but you can’t have everything.
It will be this gorgeous light green colour. Put it back on the low heat. Throw in your cheese!
Stir it around so it all melts in and becomes smooth and glorious. Taste, and add more seasoning if you need it. Mine needed more pepper, and, due to my low stock concentration, a little salt.
Serve it up. I ate mine without bread because I didn’t have any to hand and was too hungry to defrost any. I didn’t even need any – this soup is filling and delicious all by itself. I actually went back for seconds…