I was such a good girl last year that Father Christmas decided that I was worthy of some lovely new kitchen gadgetry and, alongside the fancy-shmancy sandwich press toastery wotsit and the super-dooper spinny churny juicer blendermebob, I got this shiny beast – a VonShef soup maker.
Now, those of you who know me well will know that I can just about hold a butter knife without severing a major artery, and am so accident prone and (understandably, some might say) paranoid that I cast a very wary eye over anything that has that evil and potentially doom-laden triumvirate of electricity, liquid and things that spin around very very fast by way of a motor.
It has taken me quite a while to pluck up the courage to use the Beast on my own, without a responsible adult to watch and make sure I didn’t need saving and I dutifully read the rather interesting instructions thirty six times to ensure I was of the mental capacity of to be using of this food cookering machine of the most safe and sensible of manners.
It actually couldn’t be simpler. Cut things up (not fingers), bung them in the Beast. Add liquid and whatever else the recipe calls for. Make sure you are above minimum level and below maximum level. Put on lid. Choose whether you want your soup smooth or not. Press start. 30 minutes later – soup!
So, the next step was to try and find something to actually make soup with; but a cursory glance inside the bottom cupboard of doom soon revealed a rather sad looking leek and five forlorn carrots. On the search for red lentils, I fought bravely past the 546 packets of half-empty Aldi Everyday Cheapness pasta shapes to reach what I optimistically call the ‘pulses shelf’ (actually fourteen Chinese takeaway tubs harbouring a pathetic selection of long forgotten soup thickeners and some oatmeal); I discovered that Holy Grail of the frugal house-frau’s larder – the can of coconut milk which was, no doubt, bought in a moment of utter madness when it was on a BOGOF or some kind of half price offer.
Looking over at the windowsill, I was thrilled to see that I could still almost class as bourgeois because I still had half the growing coriander from the spicy lamb rice thang flopping helplessly and rather pathetically over in one of my window pots.
And a plan was hatched.
Carrot and Coconut Milk Soup with Coriander and Chilli
Serves 2 and a stupid small amount that’s too small to give to one person for dinner but too big to actually justify throwing away so it sits on the ‘good intentions’ shelf on the fridge labelled ‘healthy lunch’ until you realise you’ve forgotten about it and you could relabel it ‘potential cure for Ebola’.
1 leek, finely chopped (saute this if you’re cooking it in a normal, bog-standard, boring, old fashioned saucepan rather than a trendy soup making beast)
5 or 6 carrots, finely chopped (see above, cretins. If you’re all fancy like me with ma soup maker you can just bung these bad boys in raw)
400ml can of coconut milk
150ml passata (or equivalent in tinned tomatoes with a wee squirt of ketchup, that’s what I used because I was keeping it real and – c’mon – who on a cooncil scheme buys bloody passata?)
600ml vegetable stock. (I use Aldi’s own vegetable stock cubes)
Good dod of cayenne pepper / chilli powder. You know your limits.
Generous sprinkle of cumin powder (brings out the taste of carrots lovely).
Small handful of chopped fresh coriander (I’m sure a good dod of dried would work almost as well).
In a pan: Bring the lot together and cook, you know, like soup. Then faff about with a stick blender, or laboriously ladle soup from pan to jug blender and blend.
In a Beast: Press button for ‘smooth’. Leave for 30 minutes to do its magic.
I forgot to take a photo of the finished soup, but it looked like the sweet, shining happiness tears of mating unicorns; only slightly more orange. Taste-wise (and I’ll admit now after nearly 700 rambling words), I will confess to not being much of a fan of soup (not my soup, anyway), but this was lovely. It was sweet and rich, with a deep, warm spiciness that I wasn’t expecting to work as well as it did. Other than any salt and pepper in the stock, I didn’t add any extra into the jug and I only added a tiny bit of salt at the table (more through habit than necessity). Even Captain Calamity gave it the thumbs up, so that’s high praise indeed.
A perfect spicy, filling soup for dunking bread into on cold evenings when you need something a comforting but with a wee bit of zing, because you have stupidly given up wine for charity and your life now lacks any kind of substance or meaning……