My Christmas larder and get ahead tips, part 1


There is little more pleasing than a well stocked larder and fridge.  That feeling of being able to hunker down and settle into the lazy rhythm of the holidays without visiting the shops is always comforting and this year, more than ever, it feels essential.  Whilst I love soup and cold ham with cheese for lunch as much as the next person, I don’t want to feel I am coasting from meal to meal of remnants, bits fished out of the fridge.  There is so much more to be done with leftovers and it’s not often I have both half a cold turkey to hand and the time to enjoy creating dishes out of it.  However, in order to achieve this without teetering on the brink of insanity and panic for ten days, I need to be organised.

Regular readers will know I am super keen on getting ahead, my devotion to planning is well known and much discussed.   Making what I can and putting it in the freezer, stocking up on treats and rustling up presents.   In previous years I have posted plenty of get ahead suggestions and I list below which months to check them out in the archives.  Suffice it to say I will be utilising these tips to get my ready-to-roast potatoes into the freezer this week along with pigs in blankets, stuffing, bread sauce, gravy and cranberry sauce – all of which come to no harm after a couple of weeks languishing in the icy depths.  Moreover, the relief if not smug glow that you will feel on knowing all these dishes are already prepared for the big day is enormous.

It is not just Christmas Day that I want to prepare for nor simply the freezer that is your friend this month.  Along with my larder planning and fridge filling I like to list the menus/recipes I have in mind for other days, where vegetables can multi task and of course, delicious ideas for those inevitable leftovers.

For instance, I couldn’t be without my Christmas salad (December 2013) as the perfect accompaniment to cold turkey, goose or ham.  It is full of fresh crunch and vibrant flavour, just the job for palates feeling a little jaded or simply tired of rich winter food.  That it’s made from vegetables that last beautifully – red cabbage, carrots, apples – is a bonus.  However, once I’ve got my mitts on these ingredients I want to know there are other recipes I can use them for.   We always have red cabbage with our Christmas Eve ham so that is the other half of this particular cannonball taken care of, why not try the Firecracker Red Cabbage (November 2013) or the gloriously crisp and tangy Red Cabbage, Radish and Herb Salad (January 2020).  Apples I turn to for an easy Tarte Tatin (January 2019) as a change from the ubiquitous dried fruits as well as cooking until soft to accompany yogurt and Granola (January 2013) or porridge for breakfast.   Carrots are a trusty fall back whether roasted to accompany Turkey, in my Thai-ish salad (November 2015) or New Slaw (May 2016) to accompany those turkey sandwiches and let’s not forget Beetroot and Carrot cake (which can be just carrot if that’s what you have) with lime frosting which is a delicious alternative to those not keen on Christmas cake (everyone I live with).  So, that’s already four ingredients multi-tasking to the max.

Do you see what I mean?  A little bit of planning and list making will make life so much easier.  Rather than gazing at that pile of cold turkey hoping for inspiration simply check out your ideas list or use mine below.  Choose some of what you want to eat over the next couple of weeks and you can adjust your shopping list accordingly.

By the way, leftover turkey can, of course, mean curry but it can also mean a riff on Bang Bang Chicken, Coronation Chicken (imagine this in those baguettes you’ve got in the freezer….) a fabulously zingy Vietnamese salad along with some of the crunchy veg mentioned above, a gratin or pie of course with ham and leeks. Use cooked turkey instead of the chicken in my Camp Fajitas (July 2016) which work so well in the Quick and Easy flatbreads (March 2018).

Bread freezes well and means you are prepared for sandwiches or soup (a happy finale for tired vegetables).  Frozen naan always lifts a curry, sourdough makes a cracking bruschetta or rarebit (for some of that leftover cheese).  Warm baguettes elevate sandwiches or soup and can made into a quick herby, garlic bread – incidentally a pinch of dried chilli flakes along with the garlic here is top notch.  If you’ve got left over cheese why not put it to good use in a some Cheese and Chive bread, a gooey, savoury treat everyone will love (December 2014).  And don’t forget soda bread, made start to finish inside an hour, no rising, Seedy soda bread, which can be regular soda bread without the seeds (April 2013) or jazz it up to be Olive, thyme and chilli soda bread (December 2018).

Frozen prawns or fish for a curry (November 2012) or Chermoula prawns (April 2020) when you want a break from the leftovers or mix prawns with a herby creme fraiche/mayonnaise to pile onto toasted sourdough for an easy canapé or snack.

A bag of frozen berries take minutes to transform into a bright and tangy smoothie or puree for cocktails (Raspberry Daiquiri, May 2014 – and we could all do with one of these to toast this year out…).  Or treat yourself to that Ivy classic of frozen berries topped with white chocolate sauce – recipes online – or warm berries up with or without a splash of booze to have over ice cream along the lines of Cherries Jubilee.  Frozen blackcurrants make a wonderfully tangy mousse (January 2017). Oh and please don’t forget my Larder Pudding (March 2015) which uses frozen raspberries but any frozen berries would work a treat or use golden syrup instead for possibly the best pudding in the world.

Make spicy seeds (November 2018) to nibble with drinks, sprinkle over salads,  soups or gratins – I am making lots of these to put into little bags for hampers I am sending out along with Christmas Biscotti (November 2012).  More of edible presents in part 2.

There are lots of ideas for canapés and party food on these pages and although this year we can’t plan parties, we can certainly treat those in our families and bubbles to some Christmas and New Year glitter and sparkle.  Ideas for these plus essentials not to be without in part 2.

I could go on.  I hope that some of these might help along with the make ahead tips you will find in the two November 2013, November 2016 and November 2019 posts.  In the last is the recipe for Chocolate and Peppermint Bark which neither I, nor my children, would want to be without.



Tarte Flambée

If you are not familiar with a Tarte Flambée then I would say you are in for a very special treat.  This glorious tart marries smoky bacon with creme fraiche and sweet, slow cooked onions in spectacular fashion.  Originally from Alsace, it brings to mind the Alps, and would make a cracking lunch after a morning on the slopes.  Fortunately however, you don’t have to go skiing to enjoy this.

I first came across this years ago when I bought a little one from my local Sainsburys in Fulham and both G and I loved it.  So much in fact that we started making our own from scratch as a regular Sunday evening supper.  Now I might make it for lunch with a big green salad, but more often will serve one up before supper when we are having a drink and a chat.

A combination of the salty savoury bacon or pancetta and creme fraiche on the crispy base makes this a consistent success and it is usually gone in minutes (see last picture).  This base is essentially a riff on my Quick and Easy Flatbreads (March 2018) just flour and yogurt with a splash of oil – it couldn’t be easier and works so well cooked in my slightly unorthodox fashion.

Two little asides – if you want to use up the creme fraiche and pancetta then look no further than my Savoy Cabbage with Pancetta and Creme Fraiche (February 2018) and should you wish to serve this to vegetarian guests I would happily swap the bacon for mushrooms cooked alongside the onions – stick with the thyme, it works a treat with mushrooms and then continue with the rest of the recipe.

Tarte Flambée

I sometimes buy those little packs of cubetti di pancetta which usually come in weights of 100-125 grams which is perfect.  Alternatively chop some rashers of smoked bacon or pancetta.  I have also, in times of need, used a ball of mozzarella in place of the gruyere – you get more melty, pizza like cheese but less of the Alpine vibe that I love but it works if that is what you have.

125g plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling

115g yogurt

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

100ml creme fraiche

100-120g smoked bacon or pancetta in small pieces (see intro)

100g gruyere, grated

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 210 and put a flat baking sheet in to preheat.  Using a large frying pan, mine measures 30cm, cook the onions in one tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt for around 20 minutes until soft but not coloured.  Put the other tablespoon of oil in a bowl along with the flour, yogurt and a pinch of salt and mix until it comes together in a ball.   Using a little extra flour roll out the dough until approx 30cm in diameter.  Tip the softened onions onto a plate and then transfer the rolled out dough into the frying pan – don’t bother washing it, that little oil left will aid crisping the base.   With the pan on a medium heat spread the creme fraiche over the dough almost to the edge, sprinkle over the cooked onion and thyme leaves followed by the bacon.  Finally sprinkle over the grated cheese.  Carefully check the underside, it should be starting to colour and feel dry.  Once you have finished arranging the topping and are happy that the bottom is cooking, slide the tart onto the hot baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.  Leave to cool just long enough that you won’t burn yourself then cut into slices or small squares, I can’t tell you how good this is…..

Last of the summer fruit (blackberry and apple) cake

I have made this cake twice in a week – once with the last of the raspberries and an apple from the garden and then again with wild blackberries and another apple.  A real foragers cake.  This sort of cooking gives me immense pleasure – I can always rustle up some sort of tea time treat and my ginger cake (July 20103) is a regular go-to as the required ingredients are usually on hand.   This cake is even more satisfying, a few bits and pieces found in the garden are giving star billing, a glorious last hurrah if you will.

A light vanilla sponge studded with flavour bombs of fruit, their crimson colour seeping into the yellow cake like a sunset.  The raspberries I used were supplemented with a few blackcurrants from the freezer and I will use these again soon – their bright and vibrant sharp-sweet flavour the perfect foil to the sweet sponge and a million miles better than the oft used blueberries.

Next on the bake list is my Beetroot and Carrot cake (February 2016) – an absolute delight and a great way to use up some of the late summer root veg (see bottom picture).

Blackberry and Apple Cake

Use what you have – blackberries are an obvious choice at the moment.   When all the summer fruit is done you could use some frozen berries as I did with the extra blackcurrants.  I add the extra flour to balance the extra wetness from the soft fruit and apple.  This isn’t too sweet a cake which I love but it could certainly take a drizzle of the lemon variety if you wanted, see my Spring Lemon Cake (March 2019).

160g butter or Stork

130g caster sugar

Good pinch of salt

2 large eggs

140g self raising flour plus two tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

A good handful of blackberries or other fruit (see intro)

I medium apple grated, I don’t bother to peel it

Icing sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 and line a loaf tin.  Cream the butter or Stork and sugar together until light and fluffy, I use a stand mixer for this but a wooden spoon and bowl work a treat too.  Add the eggs one at a time with each with the extra spoonfuls of flour until well incorporated and then add the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla and grated apple.  Finally gentle mix in the blackberries.  Put the mix into the lined tin and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Check after 40 and cover with foil if it is brown on top before a skewer comes out clean.   Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.  Dust with icing sugar if you like or add a glaze (see intro).

The sharp eyed will notice that the cake in the picture above is the raspberry version because I caught a picture of this, the blackberry and apple one went too fast…..


Chermoula Cauliflower

This is essentially a riff on my Chermoula Prawns (April 2020) but with cauliflower.  As such you probably don’t need a recipe but I wanted to draw your attention to it because I make it so much (for that also read eat it and love it so much).   The cauliflower gets those delectable crispy bronzed edges in the oven and these combined with the powerhouse of flavour that is chermoula means this is an absolute winner.   We’ll have this for lunch, sometimes on its own but more often with an assembly of other dishes – this mezze/tapas type eating being a favourite of ours and a good way to eat more veg.   It also works brilliantly in packed lunches which now feature in my weekly cook as we are back at school and work.   You can cut the cauliflower into trendy steaks if you want but I usually do florets – that it is also vegetarian/vegan is simply a bonus.

Incidentally I cook fish a lot with this chermoula as well – very much in the same way as the  chermoula prawns and it perks up frozen fish, which I found myself using during lockdown, a treat.   This makes a supper that feels both light and clean but full of flavour and hugely satisfying.  Whatever you cook it with I encourage you to whizz up a batch – bright with herbs and citrus, underlying spice and a zap of heat – it really is good.

Chermoula Cauliflower

When I came up with the chermoula prawns during lockdown I had to use ground cumin and coriander (see below) as this is all we had.  Now I have a supply of the whole seeds I tend to use these, partly because I love the smell when bashing them in the mortar but also because their flavour is more vibrant.  If you choose the whole seeds simply warm them in a dry pan until fragrant then crush with a pestle and mortar and proceed.

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Small bunch mint, roughly chopped

Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped plus a bit extra to serve

1 tablespoon ground cumin (or whole seeds, see intro)

1 tablespoon ground coriander (or whole seeds, see intro)

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice of 2 lemons (use limes if that is what you have)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Half a tin of chopped tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes chopped or a handful of cherry tomatoes (use the whole tin or tomatoes/more fresh tomatoes if you want this saucy).

I cauliflower, separated into small florets

Preheat the oven to 200.  Put the cauliflower onto a large baking pan, turn in one of the tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with salt and cook for 20 minutes or so until just soft and beginning to brown on the edges.  Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion gently until soft but not coloured.  Whizz the remaining ingredients apart from the tomatoes in a small food processor, with a hand held blender or chop by hand.   Mix a tablespoon of the paste with the cauliflower and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes and add the remaining paste to the onions along with the tomatoes and a good splash of water.  Once the cauliflower has had its additional time either add to the sauce or dollop the sauce over and serve sprinkled with the extra coriander.  This would serve 2 with rice and was actually enough for the 4 of us as a side for lunch.



Crispy spiced chickpeas (for snacks or for salads)

I relish that end of the day wind down and particularly at this time of year try to persuade my family to assemble outside if it’s warm, to catch up and enjoy a drink.  Often this is only possible at weekends and even then one or other child is often out but still, it is something I look forward to whether we are in the garden or installed in front of a cosy fire.

With a drink I always, rather greedily, look forward to the accompanying snacks.  Although I won’t turn down a crisp, there are other things I turn to which seem more delicious and rather less greasy.  The most important ingredient though is a touch of salt which somehow defines ‘snacks with drinks’.  It can be as simple as a bowl of olives, briny and savoury or a hunk of parmesan cut into gritty shards – unbelievably moreish and of course ridiculously simple.  The spicy seeds which you will find here (November 2018) make a regular outing and these savoury, crunchy chickpeas have also become a fixture over the years.  You can customise them with whichever spices you favour, I tend to fall back on this classic combination and then add as much or little chilli as I think will go down well.  Sometimes I will make a batch of these or the spicy seeds and put into little bags or jars as presents, none turned down yet.  The chickpeas are fabulous on a salad, we tucked into one this week with masses of grilled courgettes, roast cherry tomatoes and squeaky green beans as this is what needed using up from the garden – it was a stellar combination, though I say it myself.

Chick peas are an absolute star to keep in the store cupboard, an essential in my book.  You can add them to a stew like the chorizo one (September 2013) cook them with potatoes (May 2014) or chicken (March 2015) and of course make an earthy, garlicky hummus.  Or simply open a can and make these.

Crispy spiced chickpeas

Use whichever spices you feel like and you can use ground ones if that is what’s available.  I like to use seeds because the flavour seems more vibrant and of course you get the added bits of crunchy seed alongside the chickpeas which are delicious.

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt

1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds

1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds

Dried chilli flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 and line a baking tray with parchment.  Tip the drained chickpeas onto a tea towel, fold it over to enclose them and gently roll the chickpeas around.  This will both dry them and remove the skins which you can discard.  Once the chickpeas are dry put them into the lined tin and add the olive oil.  Turn until coated then cook for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile heat the spices in a dry frying pan until fragrant and popping then grind in a mortar.  After the 15 minutes are up remove the chickpeas from the oven, add the spices and a good pinch of salt, mix well then return to the oven for a further 5-7 minutes until just beginning to bronze.  Leave to cool then tuck in or scatter over a salad.



The sun is out so let’s tuck in….

The sun is out and it’s time to think about summer food.  As the weather changes so does what we think about eating.   The stews are put away and the salads, vegetables and fruit that are positively blooming at the moment are on the table.

We’ve just seen the last of the wild garlic, really the first of our seasonal treats and a forager’s free lunch to boot.  Now the elderflower is casting its lacy shadow and unmistakeable scent in the hedgerows.  We’ve made our first batch of elderflower cordial (June 2016) – no citric acid to be found so we used an extra lemon and will just make sure we get through it quickly, no particular hardship.  This will find its way into drinks of course as well as jelly (June 2018), Eton mess (June 2016), a pavlova and rhubarb fool.  For the pavlova simply mix some cordial in with the cream and pile onto your meringue – for quantities see the brown sugar meringue with lemon cream (September 2016) or make the meringues with rhubarb and ginger cream (April 2018) and simply swap elderflower for the ginger.

I’m a sucker for anything on toast, even if its just garlic, salt and good olive oil.  A box of tomatoes arrived from the fabulous Tomato Stall on the Isle of Wight yesterday and these will find their way into tomato bruschetta (July 2013) for several days as well as salads and a glorious tomato tart with herby marscapone which is a Diana Henry recipe I return to every summer.

Pepper and caper crostini (April 2014)  is a delicious addition to a tapas like lunch as well as the artichoke crostini (March 2013) or cannellini bean, parsley and lemon dip (April 2015)  which I make so often.  It’s a variation on hummus and works with most canned white beans so whatever you can get hold of at the moment, cannellini or butter bean or chickpeas.

All these need some bread which I know has been a struggle for some with the lack of flour around.  Amongst my recipes are breads that use strong white bread flour, plain flour, wholemeal flour and self-raising so there should be something for whatever you have in the cupboard.  Try the focaccia (May 2014) just omit the wild garlic oil and stick with crunchy sea salt and good olive oil or maybe the flatbreads (March 2018) which can be conjured up in next to no time and always, but always go down a storm.

You could finish with one of the elderflower puddings mentioned above or go for a lemon and lime ice cream (May 2014) or a granita, the ultimate cooler.  There are several here from Strawberry granita (August 2016) which is summer in a glass or the Iced Tea Granita (July 2013) which is unfathomably thirst quenching.

Or what about the Mighty Mivvi, that favourite ice lolly from years ago recreated into something not to be missed, a strawberry sorbet containing vanilla ice cream the size of your head.

Wherever you are spending lockdown I hope you can enjoy the sun and do try and treat yourself with delicious food.  I will be back with some more summer recipes soon.


Raspberry biscuit ice cream cake

Barely even a recipe this requires very little effort and few ingredients.  Just a determination to make a pudding with not much to hand.  Raspberries and ice cream from the freezer and a pack of biscuits from the cupboard – I used digestives but you could happily use shortbread or ginger nuts.  Equally whilst I only had vanilla ice cream available this would be fabulous with chocolate ice cream.   A bit of bashing and mushing results in a pud that far exceeds expectations and made use of whittling lockdown provisions.

Raspberry biscuit ice cream cake

200g digestives

75g butter, melted

350g vanilla ice cream

200g raspberries divided into two lots of 100g

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Take the ice cream from the freezer and let it soften while you get on with the biscuits.  If your raspberries are frozen do the same with them.  Bash the digestives to crumbs in a bag, mix with the melted butter and put into a 20cm loose bottom tin.  Mash 100g raspberries with the icing sugar and swirl into the ice cream, add the whole raspberries and pour the whole lot onto the biscuit base and freeze for an hour.  This will serve as many, or as few, as you choose.

Chermoula prawns


The glorious weather of last week has given way to rain.  It seems endless but has only been three days, I think we had been spoilt with a surprisingly hot April.   As often is the case with dreary grey skies I feel the need for a blast of sunny, vibrant flavour and a chermoula paste is an obvious contender.   Full of fresh herbs, zesty citrus, spices and a little heat this is a wonderful and quick way to add massive flavour.

Due to a slightly erratic lockdown larder I have made some comprises to my usual recipe but this version was deemed so good it had to be shared.  In the normal run of things I would use a fresh chilli but have used cayenne pepper instead for heat.  I used a 1/4 teaspoon but feel free to reduce this to a pinch.  Ideally I would also have had more prawns for the four of us but the freezer only yielded 250g.  You can of course use fish or chicken in place of the prawns if that is what you have.   We had this with my go-to pilaff but I would be just as happy to serve the prawns and their punchy sauce on a slice of toasted sourdough.  As ever these days its all about using what you’ve got.

Chermoula Prawns

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Small bunch mint, roughly chopped

Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped plus a bit extra to serve

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice of 2 lemons (use limes if that is what you have)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Half a tin of chopped tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes chopped or a handful of cherry tomatoes

250g raw prawns, defrosted if frozen

Heat the first tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion gently until soft but not coloured.   Whizz the remaining ingredients apart from the tomatoes and prawns in a small food processor, with a hand held blender or chop by hand.   Mix a tablespoon of the paste with the prawns and add the remaining paste to the onions along with the tomatoes and a splash of water.  Cook for a few minutes before adding the prawns and cook until they turn from grey to pink.  Serve sprinkled with the extra coriander.  This would be masses for 2 with rice and was actually enough for the 4 of us with some other things for lunch.

Full of greens pancakes

I make masses of pancakes – regular sugar and lemon Shrove Tuesday ones, Scotch pancakes which for some reason we used to call Cold Feet, fat fluffy American pancakes and veggie ones.  Lots and lots of veggie pancakes.  Not only are they delicious but a great way of slipping extra veg into reluctant customers (my children) and to use up a glut – I must have made a 1000 courgette and feta type pancakes when we had a courgette glut a couple of years ago.

You can customise these according to what you have – I tend to use something a little starchy like the peas/broad beans or some cooked/canned pulses plus fresh veg such as broccoli or spinach along with any soft herbs I have.  At the moment wild garlic is going into lots of things as we have some growing here but otherwise a clove of garlic adds a gentle hum.  If you use courgette (and it is delicious) then grate it and squeeze out as much water as you can so the batter isn’t too wet.   Same with carrots and parsnips which benefit from grating and any excess water being removed.

I used a couple of spring onions that needed their last hurrah but you could use chives if that’s what you have.  Chunks of feta or cheddar work well and make these even more substantial.  You can add finely chopped chilli or a pinch of cayenne if everyone you are cooking for is receptive – I like to add my heat via a generous squirt of sriracha.

Incidentally these make a wonderful breakfast topped with a fried or poached egg and some Greek yogurt to which you’ve added a swirl of sriracha, just saying….

Veggie pancakes

Below are the quantities I used for the pancakes you see in the pictures.  As long as the amounts are roughly in line you can pretty much freestyle as you please.  A tin of sweetcorn also works if you don’t have any peas or pulses.  Add or subtract herbs depending on what you have and what you like – these pancakes are very flexible. If you don’t have any self raising you can use plain flour plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

300g peas, blanched for 1 minute if frozen

1/2 head of broccoli, approximately 200g, chopped fairly small, core included

3 spring onions, finely chopped

Small handful of parsley

Small handful of wild garlic, entirely optional

2 eggs

200g self raising flour (see intro)

50g Greek yogurt, or regular plain yogurt

A little olive oil

Put everything except the oil into a food processor, season well and blend.  Leave a bit of texture, you don’t want it baby food smooth.  Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and add tablespoons of the batter, leave for a few minutes until turning golden on the bottom when you peek and then turn.  Cook for a few minutes on the other side and then keep warm while you cook the rest.  The above was enough for 4 for lunch with a salad.






Easy tomato soup with herby garlic oil

I always feel terrible about throwing any food away that I have let slip the net and these days, more than ever.  If there was a time for using every last scrap then its now.  For instance, beetroot leaves that I always try and use but inevitably sometimes find their way to the chickens were chopped the minute I got back from the farm shop last week and sautéed with garlic and chilli. Extra delicious because we ate them rather than our feathery friends.

We can no longer pick a recipe and then go and buy exactly what’s required, rather we have to look at what we have and cook accordingly.  I quite like this challenge so do let me know if you need any ideas.

This was lunch yesterday rustled up from mainly store cupboard ingredients, without using too much of our fresh supplies, very easy, cheap and was properly delicious.   Making the herby oil was just a way of using some of the wild garlic that is around at the moment.  I realise not everyone has access to this so if you have some soft herbs or rocket in the fridge that need using up these will make a wonderful, deep green oil full of flavour which is fabulous with the tomato soup.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any of the red lentils I use to thicken the soup – a handful of rice or a large peeled and chopped potato added instead of the lentils will break down and once blended do a fine job of thickening your soup.   I suspect we will be having this more than once, next time I might add some dried chillies instead of the oregano.  Just use what you have.

Easy tomato soup with herby garlic oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

A good pinch of dried oregano (if you have some)

3 tablespoons dried red lentils (see intro)

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

Splash of white wine (if you have some and can spare it)

500ml vegetable stock

100ml milk

A handful of wild garlic or soft herbs/rocket that need using up

A clove of garlic if you aren’t using wild garlic

100ml olive oil

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion gently until soft.  Add the garlic and the oregano if you are using it and stir.  Add the lentils followed by the wine if you are using it and the stock.  Let it simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes until the lentils have broken down.  Remove from the heat, add the milk and whizz with a hand held blender until smooth, taste (cautiously, it will be hot) and season.  Either serve immediately or reheat when required.   Blend the oil with the wild garlic or the herbs/rocket and garlic with a pinch of salt and swirl into the soup.  Serves 4.