Loiterer’s Soup

I call this Loiterers’ Soup, because I make it from vegetables loitering in the fridge/vegetable rack – before they turn to malingerers…

The motley cast: Courgette, carrots, celery, parsnips, spring onions, red cabbage, half a pumpkin (it’s nearly Hallowe’en)

With a little chop chop and flinging into a saucepan of vegetable stock, they become gradually transformed into a rich, Autumn soup.

If left unused for another few days, their quality would deteriorate until they look like the Ghost of Food Shopping Past – and taste similarly.

Instead, by cooking them in a pot, all the nutrient goodness in them transfers to the liquid soup.  In the featured photograph, the bowl of soup looks a little uninspiring – but don’t believe the photos, believe your tastebuds.  Try it and see.

The recipe is loosely based on Minestrone soup in my most-used cookery book “Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course”.  The only recipe in that book which I have used more is her Lentil Soup…… which I’ll show you another time.

Relaxed Cooking

Oh – and another reason this soup deserves its title is that it is good for cooks who like loitering in the kitchen, making while chatting with a friend.  The soup requires very little attention, but all the vegetable chopping will make you feel TV chef-like.  (I find that a very useful sous-chef or cooking tool is having a large open lunchbox to hand, to tip the peelings and onion skins into as you go – then empty quickly into the bin at the end.  It makes it much easier to work cleanly.)

You can jazz up the soup by serving it with interesting bread (cheese scone? wholemeal pitta? soda farl or wheaten bread?) and sprinkling some chopped vegetables over it.  Or add a dash of chilli sauce to give more heat.  It’s an open-ended recipe; what follows is a suggestion of a beginning of a template of an idea of the soup.  Experiment.


Loiterers’ Soup


Whatever vegetables you want to use up, chopped small

2 slices bacon

stock pot or cube to make 1 pint stock

1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes

1 tbl dried oregano (or mixed herbs)

1 clove garlic (optional) crushed

Dried pasta (optional) can be cooked in the soup


Method (such as it is):

This soup simmers for an hour, so start making it about an hour and a half before you want to eat it, and line up something more exciting to do/watch, while it simmers.

Spray a little low-fat spray into large saucepan.  Add chopped bacon, onion, celery and carrots if you’re using those.  Cook for a few minutes.

Open tin of tomatoes, add contents to saucepan.

Add crushed garlic (if liked).

Cover saucepan, lower heat and cook these vegetables very gently for 20 mins.  (This is called “sweating the vegetables” – it’s where a lot of the flavour is created).

Afterwards, throw in any other remaining chopped vegetables and dried herbs.  Pour in 1 pint of stock, add a further half pint or full pint of boiling water, so vegetables have a nice hot tub experience as they cook.  (Too little water, and they will bond emotionally and physically to the bottom of the saucepan, acridly).

Simmer (i.e. cook at low) for 1 hour.

Optional – Add dried pasta for the last 15 minutes of cooking – spaghetti broken into short lengths or pasta twirls work well.

If you prefer thick, smooth soup, you can jizz it up in what I like to call “the hurdy-gurdy”.  The rest of the English-speaking world calls this implement “liquidiser” – but I think that sounds less exciting.  And similarly, if I’d just called this soup “Minestrone” – would you have given it a second glance?



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