I JOINED in (shyly, off-camera) in a mitzvah-day Zoom cookery project with Maureen Lipman last week (News, 22 May). The point was to make soup to give to a neighbour or friend, or anyone else who needs a bowl of comfort at the moment. We were all encouraged to make her Bean and barley soup, chosen as suitable for anyone from the mainstream faith groups represented. (If you like, you can purée half the beans before putting them in the soup, to give it a smoother texture.)
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
2 400g tins of tomatoes
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup pearl barley (or quinoa or brown rice)
1 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
splash of red wine vinegar (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Sweat the onion, carrot, and celery together in the oil, and then add the rest of the ingredients (except the vinegar and parsley). Bring the soup to the boil and then leave it to simmer until the pearl barley or rice or quinoa is tender. Test the seasoning, adding the vinegar at this point if you use it (or a little wine, even, if you prefer). Reheat gently, and serve with the chopped parsley.
I have repotted a precious pot of supermarket basil and parsley into several pots on the kitchen windowsill, and sowed more parsley seeds and rocket, hoping to be self-sufficient through the summer. A little gremolata, made from one tablespoon each of chopped parsley and garlic and the rind of half a well-scrubbed lemon, adds a fresh zing to the spinach soup that I was making for my mitzvah. Add a little olive oil to your gremolata to preserve it for a few days and add extra richness. This adds amazing colour, flavour, and vitamins to eggs or grains or pasta.
The rocket is not living up to its name, and I’m going to have to hope that a bagful will come in the next delivery for my Ascension Day black-tie dinner (why not, even if it’s solitary?), starting with this very light Rocket and farfalle soup (that’s the pasta shape that looks like a bow tie).
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup farfalle
1 litre (2 pt) vegetable stock
60g (2 oz) wild rocket, chopped
1 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Sweat the garlic and onion in the oil until it is tender, and then add the stock and pasta. Simmer the soup until the pasta is al dente (firm to the bite), and then add the rocket and parsley and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Adjust the seasoning. This is good with a generous grating of parmesan, using a large grater.