Eat well, stress less with Ethical-SOUP-erStore

please sir can I have some more?

please sir can I have some more?

Maybe it’s just me, perhaps I’m somewhat unusual in this respect, but I tend to be a little sceptical of simple ideas. I really should qualify that, I’m lacking in confidence when they are my simple ideas.  With an almost alarming regularity I find it easier to convince myself that it won’t work rather than trying it and seeing what happens.  Not so this week when I took the plunge and initiated the Ethical-SOUPer Store challenge.

My basic idea was to try and beat the credit crunch by sharing an ethical lunch.

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about how much money and time I spend on lunch.  Possibly it’s the current media deluge on all matters financial, or the fact that every day I pass a poster for Delia’s Frugal Food.  Maybe it’s that it’s so cold to venture out and wait in a queue, and in my case always get stuck behind that person. Let’s face it in the name of ‘convenience’ (the irony of this term assaults me as I type it) we can pay an inflated price for food which just doesn’t come close to that which we know we’re capable of making for ourselves.  So I talked myself out of talking myself out of it and sent a message to all of our staff to see if I could persuade 4 others to join me in each taking a day of the week and making soup for each other. (Amazingly within 10 minutes I had four co-conspirators).

For a bit of fun I’d suggested that we adopted a ‘Come Dine With Me’ approach and give each other a rating for our efforts based on taste, ethical credentials and value for money.  We’d all only have to prepare (and pay for) one lunch but be fed for a week.  We’d share our recipes – so learn four new ones.  It’d taste far better on a cold day than sandwiches.  What I hadn’t counted on, but was delighted with, was the atmosphere as we sat down to eat.  It was so refreshing to not only enjoy ‘proper’ food but the tone was so much more relaxed – no one was feeling the after effects of queuing etc it felt different, relaxed, liberating.

I can’t recommend it enough!  Eat well, stress less and laugh – a lot.

Here’s my recipe – it’s only my third ever soup – so it’s simple to say the least.  Total cost of ingredients (excluding spices which I had in the cupboard anyway) was just under £1.50 – that’s 30p per portion – and a saving for me of about £8.50 for the week – result.

Ridiculously Easy Carrot and Coriander Soup.
500g carrots
400g potato
1 x largish onion (approx 300g before I peeled it)
1 x tablespoon olive oil
2 pints of vegetable stock
Corriander, turmeric, cumin and chilli powder
I finely chopped the onion and put it in a pan with the olive oil, ½ teaspoon ground coriander and ½ teaspoon of chilli powder.  I put it on a low heat and covered it – so it sweats- for about 10 minutes.  As this was going on I diced the carrots (washed but unpeeled) and the potatoes (peeled) – I diced them small – approx 1cm cubes.
Checking the onion was soft I then added the stock (made with 2 x Kallo vegetable stock cubes) the diced carrot and potato, then a bit of extra seasoning – a further ½ teaspoon of coriander, and a sprinkling of ground cumin and ground turmeric (as I wanted to feel like a proper chef rather than a soup novice busking) then upped the heat so that it simmered – never allowing it to boil.  After around half and hour – and a few test squeezes against the pan side with the wooden spoon to make sure the carrot had softened I turned off the heat and mashed it by hand, in the pan with a potato masher.  I then left it for half an hour to rest.  Then I used a hand blender to blend it in the pan to a smooth consistency. (Hand blending is not essential – it’s just the only type of food processor in our house).
I prepared it the day before and then warmed it up on the hob to serve.

Very simple, very reasonable cost, all organic and suitable for vegans.

I’m confident that at the end of day one I’m in the lead.

We’ll keep you posted throughout the week on the other soups, you can also see our progress in our special soup album on flickr click here

It’d be great if you could share with us your favourite recipes, and if you do take the plunge and try your own shared lunch project be sure to let us know how it goes.  Just leave a comment below…

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