Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Tomato, Cannellini and Bacon soup and Lemon Risotto
These two recipes are an ode to simplicity and two fingers to a certain cooking show. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard, but it seems to be a source of intimidation. I blame MasterChef. People seem to spend more time watching food being cooked, than actually cooking food. Do not be daunted by what you see on television: the glazes, purees, reductions, heirloom carrots, mousses, turbot, quail’s eggs and matcha infusions (which might as well be an old sock infusion), are not our job to make. Congratulations to the chefs, a lot of it is certainly impressive and if you like foam on your plate then power to you; but remember you are not cooking against a ticking clock, you do not have Greg Wallace creeping up behind you and sticking his finger into your sauce, you don’t have a close up of your red, perspiring face being beamed to households all over the country and Jay Rayner is not going to try your veggie stir fry and call it a “a diabolical, kaleidoscopic, clusterfuck of human indecency”. Instead, why don’t we aim for the home cook’s pièce de résistance: rustic simplicity. The modesty, economy and roughness of an unassuming dish made with a bit of care beats any foraged essence of cobnut, with a deconstructed composition of duck breast, served on a Palaeolithic fossil in a cold lifeless room. It’s simple, just cook.
Here are two recipes, terrifically simple and delicious.
Tomato and Cannellini Soup
Ingredients: 350g tomatoes, 2 cans of cannellini beans, high welfare free range bacon, thyme, bay, basil, 350ml vegetable stock, olive oil, white wine vinegar.
- Heat bacon in a pan, on a medium heat, until nice and golden.
- Remove bacon, then add a little oil and chopped garlic. Watch closely and when the garlic starts to change colour add the drained beans.
- Add the vegetable stock, bring to boil and then simmer.
- Remove half the beans and put aside, puree the stock and beans in the pan, then add a couple of bay leaves and thyme. Heat gently.
- Chop tomatoes into crescent moons, add to the soup and season with a good pinch of salt and a healthy grind of pepper.
- Add the rest of the beans and bacon, a good splash of good olive oil, some fresh basil. Eat.
Lemon Risotto – Inspired by a Nigella recipe
Ingredients: One unwaxed lemon, one large onion, two sticks of celery, a knob of butter, olive oil, 250g risotto rice, a litre of vegetable stock, one egg, as much parmesan as you want, 150ml double cream, frozen peas, rosemary, bay.
- Put a litre of stock on a simmer, add a bay leaf and one chopped stick of celery.
- Finely chop the onion and celery and fry in olive oil and butter for 10 minutes. Add rice and fry for another 5 minutes.
- Add a ladleful of the stock, when the stock has been absorbed, add a little more. Continue this routine until the rice is creamy, but still with a bit of bite.
- Add zest of lemon and some chopped fresh rosemary (not too much) to the risotto.
- Beat together egg, cream, lemon juice, parmesan and a good crack of black pepper in a bowl.
- Take the risotto of the heat when cooked, add the creamy mix, stir in and leave to rest for a couple of mins.
- Top with a good glug of olive oil and a grating of parmesan.