It was Becs birthday on Saturday and Jochin made us all a meal. I am telling you his Paella is just second to none. He was taught to cook this famous Spanish dish by an elderly lady many years ago. Jochin prefers to cook the traditional dish over a wood fire, but however he does it its a real treat. Sitting in one of the house's cave rooms in front of an open fire made the occasion a birthday not to be forgotten.
We all seem to get even more interested in food when the weather cools down, guess you don't really feel like eating so much when the temperatures 40 degrees. Well its not 40 degrees now so as I said in an earlier post we do love our soup. I also like the fact that you can get lentils, chickpeas and all sorts of beans precooked in jars, very convenient and not expensive. We always get ours from Inter Marche now as their prices are best. Of course fresh vegetables come from the street market. At our house we have whats called our Wednesday soup. That's when I try to use up any remaining vegetables before the market the next day. So here's the basic recipe you can adapt to use any veg as necessary. The only vegetable I would say is essential are onions, you can manage with leeks at a pinch, if you only have them and not the afore mentioned.
Dice all your vegetables. Typically I would use the following
Onions,courgettes,aubergine,leeks,carrots,turnip,parsnip,tomatoes.You not not need masses of any particular type.
Saute the onions, do not brown, add the rest of your ingredients in order of hardness. For example, from this list carrots and other root veg next ending with courgettes, then tomatoes. You do not let the veg brown at all just "sweat" untill they are quite soft. Now you add fresh or dried chili to taste, (when my sisters here its big chili time!) You now add cartons or tins of tomato frito. You can get away with other tomato products but we like the intensity of the fried tomato puree. If I have a good large pan full I would use two 350-400 gram containers of frito. You need enough room in the pan to add stock or water of roughly half the volume of the mixture. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer, by the time the soup has reduced to a nice thickness it will be ready. You can liquidise for a smooth soup if you prefer. Season to taste, eat or cool and freeze. By the way if you have an apple or two languishing in the fruit bowl, core and chop and add at the sauteing stage. Remember chili gets hotter if you are reheating. This is a good basic recipe that can be changed by omitting the chilli and adding Basil or lots of garlic. You can add lentils or chickpeas or any kind of bean for a really hearty meal. It can also be further reduced, poured over pasta or used in a Lasagna.