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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Heroic Herbs

In my area, cheap herbs are everywhere. A great fistful of coriander or flat leaf parsley will cost you no more than 50p from a local greengrocer. And these are real herbs too. I bought some Basil and Rosemary and their aroma filled the kitchen within minutes.

I also have loads of different dried herbs in airtight pots and use these all the time.

Celery and Dill Weed Soup

So often a recipe will call for a stick of celery, so I find myself with loads left over. Now again, round here celery is twice the size of what the supermarkets sell and (need I say it) a darned sight cheaper too. What better way to use it up than to make a soup with it?

Cut the bottom off the celery and then chop the rest of it up. Save a few leaves to garnish if you want, but don’t worry too much about it. Add in a chopped onion and half a chopped potato and then sweat everything over a low heat in a tablespoon of butter and certainly no more than that. After about ten minutes, cover it all with some warm stock and then put the lid back on and simmer it all until the celery is well and truly soft.

Take it off the heat and let it all cool down. Now blitz the living daylights out of it. Put it back on a very low heat and stir in a teaspoon of dried dill weed. Give a good stir, then check the flavour. If needs be stir in some more dill until you feel you have the balance right.

At this point, you might want to put in some salt and pepper, although I didn’t. The soup felt right without it. You might also want to put some cream. I didn’t but then you know my views on cream in soup.

A Cheap Stew

So, I came home this evening and thought it was getting a bit cold. So something warming was needed.

I bought 2 medium carrots, 1 turnip, 1 parsnip, 1 large potato and an onion. Total cost 80 pence. At home I had three stock cubes, a couple of tablespoons of lentils, some salt and pepper and a few teaspoons of herbs.

I chopped up all the vegetables, dropped them in a pan with the lentils, salt and pepper and covered them with the stock. Bringing the whole lot to the boil, I turned the heat down and let it all simmer until everything was cooked, but still firm. At that point, I added a tea spoon of dried parsley and oregano and half a teaspoon of a couple of tablespoons of the fresh rosemary I had left over from the day before. The only other thing I did was to add a teaspoon of vegetarian gravy mix to thicken it up a bit.

After letting the herbs develop their flavour, I tasted it. It was gorgeous! Thing was, there was enough for four people as well – and all for probably no more than £1.30. That’ll do!