Saturday just gone was one of those stellar days you dream of when you're planning a slow weekend. Wake up, mooch around the house for an hour or so and head out to the nearest Farmer's Market. I hit up Fairfield and had a funny feeling in my bones I'd see my buddy Scott.
So it was as natural as could be when I saw the man wandering up the street with an armful of groceries. He kindly escorted me to the markets and was perfectly patient as I fondled every pumpkin, smelled the garlic and squeezed each oranges. I'm nothing if not a tactile shopper.
Afterwards we headed to the Greek bakery for coffee. I'm not normally a coffee drinker unless I'm about to go running, but this was my exception. Matty may not have agreed with my decision as I bounced off the walls that afternoon, but I think it was totally worth it.
When I made it back home after the bout of shopping, I laid out my haul for inspection. So pretty, so autumnal. The colours were perfect for a beautiful soup of epic proportions. That pumpkin never saw it coming.
Soup is one of those things you kick yourself for not making more often. Basically, you chop up whatever's in the bottom of your veggie crisper and simmer it in water or stock, if you're feeling lavish. You can add some protein if you like, but it's normally not necessary. I did, but only because I spied a fantastic ham hock that literally (OK, maybe not literally) jumped into my shopping basket.
I call this one Loot Soup. It's named so because I'm using all my fantastic loot from the markets, fresh as a daisy. The payoff is long lasting: I have nutritious lunches all week and I don't have to venture out in the cold to get them - lazy-person bonus!
My side dish will be polarising. I have, on more than one occasion, ventured to Neapoli on Russell Place for a bowl of fasolada for lunch. It's accompanied by toast with anchovies. If I'm completely honest, I order it for the anchovies alone. When I whipped up my soup, I new my taste buds would not know how to go on without my little salty friends: "Can't live, if living is without anchovies! Can't liiiiiive. Can't live anymore!" And so on and so forth.
The moral of the story? Loot Soup is made with whatever's looking amazing in your fridge or at the market. Chop it up, simmer and tweak until you've got you're own favourite soup. My own soup has about a thousand ingredients, but it's just because I got in the chopping zone. You could easily make this wil about three or four (if you're totally lazy and devoid of taste buds).
2 stalks of celery, trimmed
2 cloves garlic
1 golden beetroot
1/2 medium pumkpin
200g borlotti beans
2 litres water
1 ham hock
8 sage leaves, julienned
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 mini cabbage
8 medium leves of kale
Chop all the vegetables in a 2cm dice. Saute onion, carrot and celery in olive oil for around 3 minutes. Add each vegetable in order and saute for around 2 minutes before adding the next vegetable. Add the water and bring to the boil. Add the ham hock and remaining ingredients. Simmer for around 40 minutes or until the pearl barley is tender. Season as required. Serve with toast and anchovies.