An (almost) winter warmer...

Winter vegetable and bacon soup
Winter vegetable and bacon soup

WIDE and varied as our choices of food may be, October always marks a turning point in the average diet.

With the turn of the leaves and a drop in temperature comes a swap – lettuce for cabbage, tomatoes for carrots, barbecued meat for good old fashioned stews.

Winter vegetable and bacon soup

Winter vegetable and bacon soup

It’s fortunate that our climate caters exactly for this kind of food, which is why you’ll find potatoes, turnips, carrots and onions on special offer in the supermarket just now.

And let’s face it, with the need for stodgy, warming grub comes another necessity – with Christmas just a few pay days away (gulp), it’s time to start saving money, and that includes the weekly shop.

Having studiously counted up my pennies for this one, I can tell you that I spent a whopping £1.70 (a few ingredients were already in my cupboards, but I’m sure you’ll find the same – or similar – lurking somewhere in your kitchen).

This week’s recipe is a winter vegetable and bacon broth – possibly the cheapest soup of all, and a classic comfort food.

Winter vegetable and bacon soup

Winter vegetable and bacon soup

The best part is you can adapt it to suit yourself. Don’t like turnip? Then away with it, and it’s less chopping for you to do (those who have battled with a neep in the past will know all too well the struggle ahead).

Brew it up, pour yourself a bowl and snuggle under the couch blanket you’ve no doubt dug out by now. Winter television or a good book are excellent accompaniments, and the perfect antidote to a long day...

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes, cubed

Winter vegetable and bacon soup

Winter vegetable and bacon soup

1 turnip, cubed

1 leek, sliced

2 onions, grated

4 carrots, grated

100g cooking bacon, finely chopped (bacon lardons will also work well)

1ltr stock (vegetable or chicken)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch of dried herbs

Method:

Using a deep dish or pot, fry off bacon,onion and garlic in a little oil, until the vegetables brown and the meat crisps.

Add the rest of the veg and soften over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently to stop the mixture from sticking.

Add the stock and herbs and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and seasoning as required.

Soup can be as chunky or as smooth as you prefer – the broth can be eaten as it is, or you can use a hand blender (or even a potato masher) to create a thicker texture.

It will also keep for a few days in the fridge, or can be frozen in batches.

n Note: this basic recipe can be adapted in lots of different ways – by substituting bacon for a ham hough and using the meat from the bone, or by adding lentils or pearl barley with the stock.