I only really got into making soup this year. Right now I’m sort-of in bed with sort-of pneumonia. I got flu four weeks ago, I’ve felt like crap ever since and when my legs started tingling with the assorted toxins sluicing through them two mornings in a row and I felt dog-tired all the time I thought it was time to go to the doctor.
It might be pneumonia, it might not, but it’s certainly a week’s worth of oxicillin. And more feeling like crap. I bought a pheasant on Monday because at my decidedly rural farmers’ auction place they cost £2.50 and obviously they’ve never been near a factory farm or a slaughterhouse, but even though it was de-feathered and gutted I just haven’t felt like doing it. Or pretty much anything else. But you still have to eat and this is good for you, really tasty and added bonus, really, really cheap. And anyone can do it. Really anyone.
- Soak 2/3 of a packet of red lentils overnight. They’re about 80p a packet.
- Chop up half a cabbage. Cabbages are about 50p.
- If you want to be fancy soften some onions in the big green Le Creuset. I used to have some money, once upon a time.
- Add the lentils and the cabbage and fill the saucepan to within about an inch of the top. Whack it on full.
- Add mixed herbs, pepper, maybe cumin but I didn’t this time. I’m thinking of adding caraway or dill, but I’m not entirely sure about that. Didn’t this time.
- Add a tin of tomatoes. Again, farmers’ auction market, three tins for £1. And a veggie stock cube.
- Boil it.
- Once it’s boiled for about 20 minutes use the fifteen year-old Braun wand whizzer to mulch it all up. That’s probably the best kitchen aid I have. Certainly the one I use most.
- Leave it to simmer on minimum.
- Now make your dumplings. 100g self-raising flour, 50g vegetarian suet. I mean, you wouldn’t use real suet, would you? Really? Well, they’re your arteries I suppose. Sprinkle some more mixed herbs in. If you wish. Whether or not you do, add about half a teaspoon of baking powder or bicarb.
- Add some water, not too much, and stir the mix until it congeals into one big ball. Split that into four. Put the four flour balls into the simmering soup.
- Then go away. Give it about half an hour. The dumplings will more than double in size. I like them like this, but you may want a little less expandy baking powder. If you have to chew them they’re not done. But they will be.
That’s it. Soup and dumplings. Really, really nice. And about as complicated as I can do today.