Week Six Soup Kitchen... The Challenge

Anyone who knows me will know that kitchens and I do not mix well together. I actually have a fridge magnet at home that says “I have a kitchen only because it came with the house”, how true that is. I have lived in one place for a good 6mths before I even turned on the oven, actually I didn’t turn it on a friend came round to cook me dinner and when she got there no light would come on when she turned any of those knobs on the thing. She opened the oven door and found all the “stuff” inside was still in wrapping and it had not even been plugged in. We ended up getting take-out that night, something to do with the fact that you have to ‘burn off’ something or other before you use it, whatever.

Now I have used a hob before, that’s what they call those hot round things on the top right? A good friend of mine made me some portions of his famous spag bowl to keep in my freezer and gave me simple instructions on how to re-heat them. One night after work I decided I was going to cook (yes I do consider warming something up in a saucepan cooking), so I came in put the saucepan on the hob and stuck the spag bowl in the pan.  I went off to get changed then went on the net to check some emails and before long there was this god awful smell, one that might out last religion (as Kenny would say) and I went running to the kitchen, and there in the pan was the mess that was meant to be my dinner – the one key thing I had forgotten to do was take the spag bowl out of the plastic freezer bag that it was in!!!!!

So as you can imagine making a soup was going to be a bit of a challenge for me. However, everyone here at Stancombe makes a real effort and it’s for a good cause so I decided to take on the challenge and told myself “I can do that”.

My friends were all worried I might actually burn down the building and find myself out of work, as the last two times I have attempted the feat of making beans on toast have I have failed (miserably). I seem completely unable to get the timing right of the toast popping up in the toaster and the beans nicely bubbling in the saucepan together. My toast pops too early so down it goes again and then by the time the beans are done the toast has turned into something resembling coal. So that gets thrown out and more bread goes down in the toaster but then by the time that pops my beans have turned to mush and stuck to the pan….

That should give you an idea of the challenge I faced making a soup. I was given some great advice by a good friend, he said I should make a nice and simple soup that has just two key ingredients. That is how I ended up making Broccoli and Cheese soup.

I was on cooking duties with Clive, who made a far more complicated soup than I, so hat’s off to him. We decided to make out soups together the night before, so some the night we were both there chopping away glass of wine in hand (to steady the nerves) and pans at the ready. His very quickly looked like something wholesome and tasty…. Mine on the other hand “looked liker a puddle of dirty water” (you know who you are). It really did look terrible sat side by side with Clive’s and I worried I had done something wrong. I must have picked up the recipe notes 100 times to check I had not missed anything. I was desperate to call a friend or ask the audience but I was on my own here.

The magic moment came when I blended the soup – all of a sudden it actually looked like a soup (see pictures on previous post), the wonders of cooking technology….. and can you Adam and Eve it, it actually tasted like a real soup as well. Will I be making it again? Will I buggery, the stress was far too much.


Soup Kitchen Week 2

Last week I made Roasted Butternut with Risotto and Goats cheese soup, and Bryant made Vegetable and Lentil with Smoky Bacon. 

I decided a risotto based soup would save me buying garlic bread as the rice would be filling and therefore tick the carb box.  Needless to say at 12.15 I went to the shop and bought some bread.

My only moment of panic was standing in Thomas Dux on Tuesday night looking at the goat’s cheese.  What if no one likes goat’s cheese?  Maybe I should substitute and make the soup with blue cheese.  What does ash covered goat’s cheese taste like?  10 minutes later and armed with standard goats cheese I headed home.  All I did on Tuesday night was roast the butternut as I decided that risotto would be better made fresh on the day.

I wasn't feeling very confident about my offering as it simmered on the stove top.  It tasted a little bland and lifeless and I felt that all the seasoning in the world wasn’t going to transform it.  What a difference the goat's cheese made.  It was beautiful and creamy and the perfect partner for pumpkin.  

My sagely soup advice is buy the best goat’s cheese you can afford, it was worth it.