Wednesday, 4 June 2008

These here are rainy days.

Gorgeous Campbell's Soup pic originally uploaded by sugar-snaps

In principle, I’m a big fan of rainy days – drinking a hot cup of tea while reading and listening to rain spattering against the window is pretty much my pleasure spot – but it’s been raining here in London now for about eight freaking months. Needless to say, I’m a little over leaky shoes, drizzle-induced hair insanity, the smell of wet wool, and being permanently damp.

Finding something to enjoy in this yesterday was tough. I was crabby and tired and daydreaming again of my escape to Melbourne. So the silver lining in yesterday’s leaden skies was making up a sort of minestrone recipe. I ate it with parmesan toast, bad TV, and the streetlights outside the window casting bright haloes of amber on the rainslick black streets. If you’re feeling a little bit neglected, dishevelled, melancholic or winter weary, try it please; it’ll make your small corner of the world a tiny bit glowier for it (even better if some sweetheart makes it for you, sets it before you in an old chipped plate with a heavy spoon and pats your hair while you eat it…but it’s an excellent salve any old how you get at it.)

Here it is, a kind of recipe for what I have christened FuckyousummerwhyamistilleatingsoupinJune Minestrone:

4 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
8 or 10 chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
1 smallish head of broccoli pulled apart into florets
A greedy handful of green beans, chopped
1 courgette, diced
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin white beans (I used cannellini beans)
Around 1.5L vegetable stock
2 tsps fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
And the secret ingredient…the rind from a wedge of parmesan

It’s so simple to make that instructions are practically patronising – basically gently fry the garlic, then lob in the carrots and parsnips and cook for a couple of minutes until they’re glistening and lightly garlicky. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, thyme, and season well. Throw in the magical parmesan rind as well. It’s truly alchemical what this innocuous bit of parmeggiano does to this otherwise ordinary soup – it adds a salty, almost meaty richness to the broth that’s kind of pornographic (for a turophile like me, anyway). Honest.

The green veg go in when the root vegetables are almost cooked – any sooner and they’ll be soft and dull by the time you dish up. Add the white beans at the same time as the greens and warm through. Let simmer until everything’s just cooked.
Eat with a good book or bad television, alone or with snuggly friends. And maybe a purring kitty if you can procure one.

Buon appetito. And hey, English summer? Baci mi culo.

PS: Second most sublime soup recipe - and oh-so-good for you, marvellously - is here.

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