Cold winds and searingly freezing temperatures are hitting both sides of the pond at the moment and many of us need to fashion a warm meal or two from our storecupboard standbys. This is something I often do at this time of the year – making meals out of the remnants of a New Year baked ham, delving into the freezer to use up near use-by-date staples (and luxuries), and taking stock of my larder to use things up within their nutritional good-life.
As a matter of course I tend to do this throughout the year anyway with a regular fridge-clear recipe a week to make economical sense of those last lingerers – the stray carrot, celery stalk/stick, slightly-wrinkled pepper/capsicum and less than plump mushroom. I use most of them to make a soup or add to a stew that has various family names – throw-it-in-stew; fiddled-with-chicken; and perhaps the most versatile is fridge-clear-soup.
These solitary strays, when mixed and matched with store cupboard regulars (like canned tomatoes, dried lentils, pasta or beans) make endlessly versatile meals. Adding different herbs, seasonings and spices also means additional variety. What might be a fresh spring type herby soup one week may with just the deftest of touches become a spicy aromatic one the following. Such a soup is also the perfect bariatric way I know to take in a large quantity of protein without a high fat and sugar load.
Here is my latest offering – made with the usual onion, carrot, celery, bacon and tomato fridge clears as well as store cupboard lentils and pasta. It is a hearty and very filling winter soup perfect for these extra cold days. You could use canned or a sachet of cooked lentils to speed up the cooking time; omit the pasta if it doesn’t agree with your pouch; add any other stray vegetables lurking in the chiller drawer; forget the bacon if you’re vegetarian; and add some herbs, a dash of curry powder, harissa paste or paprika to give a spicier end result. In other words have a fridge clear and a store cupboard raid to make your own version.
Needless to say it is budget conscious so neatly fits into our bariatric budget buster collection as number 12. Named BBB12.
FRIDGE CLEAR AND CUPBOARD RAID SOUP – BBB12
1 onion, chopped
100g/1/2 cup finely chopped very lean bacon or ham
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk/stick, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
low-fat cooking spray
2 tomatoes, chopped
200g/1 cup dried green lentils
1.5 litres/61/2 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
100g/4 oz small soup pasta such as orzo
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
1. Place the onion, ham or bacon, garlic, celery and carrot in a large pan and spritz generously with low-fat cooking spray. Cook for 5 minutes until the ham or bacon begin to crisp a little.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes then stir in the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the pasta and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until both the lentils and pasta are cooked and tender. Season to taste then spoon into bowls to serve sprinkled with parsley if used.
WLS PORTION: 1/2
* suitable for Freezing
CALORIES PER PORTION: 305
Image courtesy of Waitrose www.waitrose.com