There’s something special about watching the steam rise from a hot bowl of soup after you’ve been working in the garden all morning; you just know it’s going to fill you up. My smoked bacon and kale soup came about simply to use up some ingredients in the kitchen. I cooked up enough for six portions so there’s plenty in the freezer for a wet and windy day. We have rather busy weekends and when lunchtime comes it’s nice to stop, take some time and eat something nourishing.
In case it has escaped your attention, September is the month where people make a fuss about organic; aptly named Organic September. I have to admit that the majority of food that I buy is already organic so for me I wanted to try some new organic ingredients that I hadn’t tried before. I loaded up my weekly veg box with tomatillos, Homity pies and all sorts. I was challenged as part of Organic September to make an all organic three course meal, for four people, which cost less than £30.
I have done a few dinner parties before but not a budget conscious one so I was looking forward to seeing what I could make without going over the allowance. Initially I thought a roast chicken would be quite a good idea but with the cold weather closing in I wanted to make something a bit more hearty and autumnal.
My three course menu ended up being as follows: Pea and Bacon Soup (recipe in this post), Beef Cooked with Beer and Onions (see below) and Blackberry and Pear Pavlova (recipe for this one to follow). My total spend in the supermarket to get all the ingredients I needed was £25.85. I already have organic flour, sugar, vegetable stock and oil in my cupboards so if you don’t the spare change allows you to pick up these bits too and have plenty leftover to use in future. I used my change to pick up some lovely organic bread to serve with the soup.
Pea and bacon soup is one of my favourite combinations but as I don’t have a freezer I have nowhere to keep frozen peas so don’t get to make it very often. Not to worry though as my recipe conveniently uses a whole bag of peas at once. It makes four big portions, or four smaller ones for your dinner party with two left for lunch the next day.
You will need (all ingredients organic):
- 1 bag frozen peas (750g)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 600ml hot water with 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder stirred in
- Oil for frying
- Salt and pepper (not organic)
- 6 rashers of bacon, diced
Start by frying the onion and potato together over a low/medium heat with a little oil until softened.
Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in the peas and return to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
Blend the soup with a hand blender or in a food processor then pour back into the pan to keep warm. Check the seasoning and add any salt and pepper as needed.
While the soup is keeping warm dry fry the bacon in a frying pan until brown and crispy.
Serve up the soup with the bacon on top.
I love what a fantastically vibrant colour the soup comes out. It’s light and fresh but without being too frugal. The sweet peas and salty bacon are classic companions and the potato gives the soup a lovely texture. A sprig or two of mint would be a good addition if you have any hanging about.
With the starter all eaten it was on to my Beef with Beer and Onions. A delicious and slightly cheaper version of Boeuf Bourguignon I love this recipe. It’s one I’ve made before so you can find the recipe here. Slow cooked (for a no fuss dinner party) and simply served with some mashed potatoes and some shredded cabbage that came in my veg box.
Everything was followed up with my Blackberry and Pear Pavlova, the recipe for which is here. Have you given something new and organic a try this month?
Potatoes, sliced and baked with cream have to be one of the best things ever. At least in my opinion. Maybe a little bit of garlic, or some sliced onion, even some smoked bacon added for extra deliciousness. Although undeniably tasty they always feel more suited to the colder months than in the middle of summer. Don’t worry though, I’ve found a way round this; and I had a swanky new baking dish to try out. By adding some summer greens and using a lighter sauce my summer green, smoked bacon and potato bake fills that dauphinoise hole perfectly.
For two (very generous portions) you will need:
- 500g Jersey Royal potatoes (or new potatoes), scrubbed and sliced (2-5mm ish)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 slices smoked streaky bacon, cubed (or lardons)
- 6 big leaves from summer greens
- 25g butter
- 25g flour
- 400ml milk
- Small handful Parmesan, grated
- Salt and pepper
Start by getting the bacon on a low heat in a frying pan and cooking until the fat starts to melt. Add the onion to the pan and cook with the bacon for around 20 minutes. Add the garlic and turn the heat up a little for another five minutes until the bacon and onion are golden brown.
While you are waiting for the onion put the sliced potatoes into a pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for 6-8 minutes or until the potatoes are just soft, drain and set aside.
Remove the middle stalks from the summer green leaves then roll and slice the leaves. Put the sliced greens in a steamer above the potatoes. Steam for two minutes then set aside with the potatoes.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat then add the flour. Cook for a minute before whisking in the milk. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Add a generous amount of black pepper, a little salt and the Parmesan.
Layer up the potatoes, greens and bacon mix in a dish finishing with a layer of potatoes on top. Pour the sauce over everything then bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top.
You may notice that my potato bake is served in a very lovely Le Creuset baking dish. I was sent one to have a play with as this colour, Ink, is new out. I think we all know that the Le Creuset brand goes hand in hand with durability and quality and this dish is going to be indispensible in my kitchen. I love cooking with really good equipment and it seemed fitting that I should cook up a new take on one of my favourite dishes in my new dish! I really like how the colour fades up the sides and although the same quality that you would expect from Le Creuset it is amazingly light weight.
I really enjoyed this as a meal with a cracking glass of Chablis. By keeping the skins on the potatoes the dish has a fantastic earthy flavour with the summer greens adding freshness, the bacon giving smokiness and the onion sweetness. I happily ate this on its own but it would be a very fitting side to all sorts of things.
Thank you to Le Creuset for the baking dish. All opinions expressed are my own.
I simply couldn’t have another plate of steamed or stir fried chard so I put my thinking cap on and set about making a chard and bacon lasagne. I also realised maybe chard isn’t the only vegetable I haven’t paid much attention to.
I planted my own broad beans back in February full of anticipation and excitement for that day when I could finally snap the pods from the plant, lightly cook them and enjoy them just as they are. To say I was jealous of the broad beans at the farmers’ market is an understatement. I couldn’t possibly buy any and cheat on my home grown ones…could I?
wanted some of this majestic member of the Brassica family.
Despite their unsociable side effects they are one of my absolute favourite vegetables. Unfortunately I can never seem to get my hands on them or they all get snaffled up by abdominally superior individuals before I can get to them. When I can get them though I always do.