Contrary to popular belief, the weather outside is not frightful. Well not for me at any rate. Yes it’s well and truly Baltic – both outside and in my chilly office – and yes when the snow starts to melt your boots and socks get soggy, but like the overgrown kid that I am, I resolutely love the snow.
From catching snowflakes on your tongue, stamping through fresh white fields and leaving swirly tracks, to harvesting icicles to store in your freezer for a summertime surprise, winter is a treasure-trove of good clean fun. It’s easy to grumble about it – when the trains don’t turn up and the pavements fill with slush – but I am wishing I’ll never stop smiling at the sparkling silvery snowflakes and I hope that the moment when I whip open my curtains to see white sheets have settled on London never stops being heart-racingly thrilling.
Of course a good winter deserves good eating. I like to ensure a steady supply of hot drinks – tea makes everything better and that includes gentle frostbite and colds and sneezes – hot and spicy curries and noodles to gobble, stews and broths to fill up my tum and soups by the gallon. Wonderful wonderful soups. Whether it’s the soup of the day at Prêt and Eat (Malaysian Laksa say is the jackpot for me!) or a tin of Heinz and a slab of cheese and toast, I ruddy adore slurping on soup. The best bit? That they are so easy and cheap to make. A big pot of soup can keep an army marching for days and you can chuck almost anything into your pot and produce a treat. Also any excuse to eat crusty bread and butter is marked with a giant ‘WIN’ for me.
This leek, potato and bacon soup (from, where else, the goodfood website) will make about five mega portions and keep for a few days in the fridge (don’t add the cream if you want to freeze it mind..) if it remains uneaten for that long.
*25g butter *3 rashers of bacon chopped *1 red onion, roughly chopped *2 shallots, roughly chopped *400g leeks, trimmed, chopped and well washed *3/4 potatoes washed, peeled and diced *Around 1.4lr of hot vegetable stock *142ml pot single cream *bacon to serve
1. Melt the butter in a large pan, then fry the bacon, shallots and onion, stirring until they start to turn golden. Season at this point if you like.
2. Tip in the leeks and potatoes, stir well, then cover and turn down the heat. Cook gently for 5 mins, shaking the pan every now and then to make sure that the mixture doesn’t catch.
3. Pour in the stock, season well and bring to the boil.
4. Cover and simmer for 20 mins until the vegetables are soft.
5. Leave to cool for a few mins, then blend in a food processor or with a hand-blender in batches until smooth.
6. Return to the pan, pour in the cream and stir well. Taste and season if necessary. Serve scattered with tasty crisp bacon and eat with warm crusty bread or garlic bread on the side. Yum and double-yum.