The doorbell rang at 5.07 this morning.
It’s funny what bizarre thoughts go through your mind when you are suddenly woken from a deep sleep. For me, it was “My god, what’s that? Phew, it’s not a burglar…. they wouldn’t have rung the bell’. Random.
I was quite right in my deduction– it wasn’t in fact a burglar; it was Joe’s lift to swim training. Joe is a swimmer; a hugely dedicated and committed swimmer.
When you are a hugely dedicated and committed swimmer, morning training becomes a way of life – and sometimes that involves the alarm going off at a time that has a 4 in it. Except this morning the alarm hadn’t gone off and at 5.07 this morning the sort of blind panic that would be very funny to play back later in the day set in…..
ONE MINUTE it took Joe to jump out of bed, throw on some clothes (which were all back to front it turned out), gather bags and water bottles and get out of the front door. I’m not sure there are Olympic records for ‘getting out of the house when you have overslept and just been woken from a deep sleep by the doorbell’, but if there were he would be right up there with the best.
The other important thing to appreciate about teenage boys who swim is that they eat loads. Loads and loads and loads. His speedy morning departure had meant that he had passed on a hearty breakfast and I knew that this could only mean one thing ….. he would be STARVING later when I picked him up from school ready to go straight to afternoon training.
The fridge was looking pretty bare. The Pasta Puttanesca and Arctic Roll from last week had cleared out some shelf space and I was due a trip to the supermarket. What could I throw together for a ravenous teenager? Lardons, a few miscellaneous vegetables, a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes, some mini alphabet pasta shapes – can you see what it’s going to be yet?
I’m going to call it a ‘Start of the Week’ Soup ….. which feels a bit more up beat and go-getter than the slightly sad and depressing connotations of an ‘End of the Week’ Soup. Joe gets a delicious soup to keep him going until dinner …. and as a side benefit I clear the last few bits and bobs from the fridge.
There was plenty of soup to go around – enough to stash a couple of pots in the freezer and enough for Steve’s packed lunch for work the next day.
I’m giving you the exact recipe that I used, but this really is a completely flexible, have-a-go, throw it all in, soup – so get stuck in and give it a go. Make life a little easier (and tastier) for yourself by using tinned chopped tomatoes with herbs. Alphabet shaped pasta is not essential – anything small that cooks quickly is fine – even spaghetti broken into small pieces would do. But there’s a lot to be said for being able to write words in your soup. Oh how Steve loves (!) to pull out his lunchbox at work and find alphabet shapes winking at him from his soup. I’m sure it enhances his professional edge no end. ….. or at the very least makes him smile.
- 200g Lardons
- a good glug of olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic, grated or finely chopped
- Half a red pepper
- 1 carrot
- 1 courgette
- a small head of broccoli
- 100g fine green beans
- 1 litre stock - chicken or vegetable is fine
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes with herbs
- 100g mini pasta - I used Alphabet shapes
- a couple of large spoonfuls of pesto (optional)
- 200g frozen peas
- Before you start cooking, chop all the vegetables into small pieces - the size that you would like to see them in your soup. At this stage, I tend to keep the things that cook quickly separate from those that take longer. So here I had a plate of onion, garlic, red pepper and carrot and a different plate of courgette, broccoli and fine green beans.
- Brown the lardons in a large saucepan or stock pot.
- Then add a good glug of olive oil and tip in the onion, garlic, red pepper and carrot.
- Cook for a few minutes on a low heat until tender and then add the courgette broccoli and fine green beans to join them for a few more minutes.
- Now add the stock, the chopped tomatoes and the mini pasta. Bring to the boil and simmer until the pasta is cooked - use the instructions on the packet of pasta for a guide to how long it will need.
- Taste to check that everything is done and to check the seasoning. At this stage, I sometimes like to stir in a couple of large spoons of pesto ..... it doesn't always need it, but it did this time!
- When everything is ready, stir the frozen peas into the hot soup. They will cook very quickly and leaving it to the last moment will ensure that they retain their beautiful colour. Finish with a sprinkle of something green - if you are feeling fancy.
- Note - as the soup cools it gets thicker, so if you are preparing it ahead of time you may choose to add some extra water when heating to loosen up the consistency.