Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Keeping Warm and Making Soup
January. The warm glow of Christmas is a distant memory. That wonderful festival which brings light to the darkest days is over for another year. And it will be some time before spring arrives. There will be cold wet days and nights, many weeks of darkness, and colds and sniffles to survive, before we feel the warmth of the sun on our faces.
There's not much to be said it January's favour. True, it's the start of another year, a time for looking forward, for planning, for hoping, for resolutions and good intentions.
But, mostly it's cold and miserable. Money is short after Christmas expenditure and spring, let alone summer, seems a long way away.
There's a bonus, however, for lazy photographers like me who are adverse to setting their alarm clocks earlier than absolutely necessary. The late sunrise means I've been able to see some wonderful skies although rushing to work means I can't capture them apart from a quick snap taken across the fields before de-icing the car on a frost morning.
For me, January is all about keeping warm. Hibernating. It's about staying indoors in front of a warm log fire, cosying up with a book and a glass of red wine. Our cat Toffee has the right idea. He picks his spot on a favourite chair and sleeps for hours.
I also like to cook warming food for my family, traditional dishes likes stews, casseroles and soups.
One of my favourite soups is easy to make from store cupboard ingredients and is ready is around half an hour.
It's tasty and its Mediterranean flavours remind me of holidays to Italy, eating delicious simple food in small trattorias with red and white checkered table cloths.
What You Need:
A little olive oil
One onion, finely chopped
One clove of garlic, crushed
One tin of chopped tomatoes
One tin of mixed beans
One litre chicken stock (I use a Knorr stockpot)
A good pinch of mixed herbs
Some broken lengths of spaghetti or pasta shapes for soup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated parmesan to serve
Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan until soft and translucent. Add the hot stock, the tomatoes, beans, mixed herbs and seasoning. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Serve with grated parmesan. It's also delicious with a handful of baby spinach leaves or fresh basil added at the end.