It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...You know, I reckon when Dickens was writing A Tale of Two Cities he was on a diet. It all seems so relevant. It's the best of times because it gives the residents of Contrary Towers something new to talk and write about, yet the worse of times because we are dieting. As for wisdom and foolishness... I'll say just two words. Dried fruit. Nuff said.
Contrary to popular belief, I was not gallivanting around on Tuesday evening, I was visiting a dear friend in darkest Surrey. That said, I was bad. I sinned. Again. Two nights running. I had winez and I had the most delicious Arrabbiata cooked by my friend Katie. With gnocchi.
It was a lovely evening and I utterly ignored my diet because, well, I was in Surrey and diets don't count there.
Wednesday though... I was back on the wagon, for both eating and drinking. I have, of course, got weight to lose so I can have cocktails, so now to get serious.
Which will be why I was sitting outside a coffee shop, at lunchtime, enjoying a iced coffee. I've not had one before. And they are possibly on the banned list. But. Owing to the lack of dirty cheese I hadn't brought any sandwiches so this would be lunch. That and the dried fruit. I'd been nibbling on.
The dried fruit that was starting to become a problem.
So anyway, I had one, just coffee flavoured and I really quite enjoyed it. Plus a good excuse to watch the world go by. I wasn't in the market just for the hell of it, I had provisions to buy!
The capricious one was going to be singing which meant I had to make sure food was actually ready for the moment she returned to Contrary Towers. Tricky as she can be a bit variable. That and I'm a rubbish cook who can't predict time. Or stick to a recipe.
So. Tonight's recipe is sort of a tomato and potato soup. With basil. And chillies. Obvs.
No Toms or Basils were hurt making this soup.
The inevitable, slightly vague ingredients list...
- 2 onions. I'd got those fresh after the coffee, see, I wasn't just sitting in the market for the fun of it
- 4 medium spuds, also fresh, Maris Pipers I believe
- A big fat clove of garlic. It was huge! Or two if yours is less comedic
- 2 tins of Lidls finest chopped tomatoes
- 2 chillis
- 3 Lady's fingers. Or Okra if you're a frightful colonial
- A bit of olive oil
- A bit of white wine vinegar. Once I found it that was. It had been tidied away!
- A few more leaves from Basil
- Cayenne pepper (this might have been a mistake)
- Tomato puree
- Sugar to neutralise over exuberance of chilli
- Half a litre or so of vegetable stock
- A bunch of flowers
Did you notice there is no butter? Or bacon?
Chop the onion, garlic, chilli and spuds. Put a bit of olive oil in the big fat soup pan and gently fry the onion until you start to worry about the time. Add the potato, chilli and garlic and fry for a bit longer. Stir lots. This is my favourite bit as I do like fannying around.
Add a splash of white wine vinegar, letting it boil off then pop in the vegetable stock (Oxo, obvs), sprinkle with cayenne pepper and leave the whole lot to simmer for 20-25 minutes with the lid on.
Once the spuds seem nice and soft, slice the lady's fingers, trying not to do it with actual fingers, and add these along with the tins of chopped toms to the mix. At this point you might panic about the colour, I did, so squeeze in a suitable amount of tomato puree. Leave to simmer with the lid on for another 20 minutes or so.
By this point it should be turning in to a nice gloopy mess... So get the blender out and, well, make it smooth.
Add some sugar to take the edge off the heat. Whoops.
It was at this point that I had a text from my flatmate indicating she might be about to leave choir practice, so I reckoned I had 30 minutes and... I was already finished. Oh. That wasn't the plan. Which was why when she turned up starving I was on the balcony watching the ducks.
As you do.
Oh, before I forget, I added the ripped basil leaves about ten minutes before she arrived.
Being extra hungry she added a lashing of fresh yoghurt to the soup, which did make it look nicer. And we tucked in. It was quite hot. But very tasty. And if it hadn't been for the yoghurt it would have even pleased a vegan.
Not something you expect to here at Contrary Towers!
I made plenty as tonight we are off to the opera so needed something when we get back!
Finally... About that dried fruit. My lovely flatmate was right. She always is. I got stomach pains from too much and was quite uncomfortable yesterday. Better today, but still not completely right. I was foolish. Needless to say I got a total ribbing from her this morning as we drank tea. And I deserved it.
Which brings us back to Dickens. I believed I would be okay, she was incredulous that I didn't believe her!
I'm sure I'll get my own back...