If cooking could be a person, it’d be your best mate. Not a partner – that’d just be too creepy. But a real keeper all the same. It’s there for you through thick and thin. To witness the good, the bad, the plain weird, and everything in between. The crazy dancing around the kitchen to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ moments. The bleary eyed pajama-clad pancake sessions (where you don’t even attempt to flip the pancake as your coordination most definitely hasn’t woken up yet). The oven-died-just-as-the-cheesecake-needed-to-go-in tantrums (foot stomping included). The heartbroken pizza-dough kneading, tears silently running down one’s face. The fist pumping when your Charlotte Russe turns out of the mould. Perfectly. The trying to juggle too many things at once moments, such as making lasagne while clad in bright green running shorts and a hot pink sports bra, with a floral apron thrown over the top (so you can exercise while it’s cooking, of course!). Let’s just say that opening the door to receive a parcel resulted in one very confused mailman. Let’s not talk about that. Like it or not, cooking’s seen the very best and worst of you.
Don’t fret. Cooking, like a good friend, ain’t that judgmental. Want to bake sunshine yellow, lemon-spiked cupcakes to match your mood? No problem. Feel like turning your back entirely on the other sex and pounding out your frustration on bread dough? Sure thing. Need a simple salad to help you rewind from a hectic day? Go ahead. This Chunky Vegetable, Bean and Pasta soup fell into the post-netball training on a wintery night category. It’s the hearty, warm you through to your bones kind of meal – pretty essential when your fingers are most definitely numb and your hair is slicked to your face from the rain.
Too specific a category? It needn’t be! In fact, this soup suits many different situations – pair with bread (the recipe for the home-made specimen in the photograph is coming soon, promise) and a good shaving of parmesan for said wintery nights, or serve a smaller bowl for a light dinner on hot summer days. I mean, whoever said soup was incompatible with Summer was clearly a ditz. Sheesh. It’s also appropriate to make when in a variety of moods – there’s plenty of chopping to work out any angst (and it doesn’t have to be pretty), yet it’s also simple enough to allow for winding down after a long day. Not to mention, it’s a beaut at freezing – perfect for those days when you simply don’t have the time (this also prevents shocking clothing situations such as the aforementioned scenario).
And, like some friends, while you may not always feel like spending time ‘with’ cooking, it’ll be there for you through the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Corny cliche for the day? Tick!
Chunky Vegetable, Bean and Pasta Soup
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
500g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm pieces
2 large carrots, cut into thin triangles
½ large zucchini, cut into thin triangles
1x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1x 140g tub of pizza/tomato paste
1 ½ tsp dried mixed herbs
1.2 L vegetable stock
150g green beans, topped tailed and cut into 2cm pieces
½ cup macaroni or similar small dried pasta
1x 400g can kidney beans, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil. When shimmering add the onions and cook, stirring every so often for 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, carrot and zucchini and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Now toss in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, mixed herbs and vegetable stock. Stir, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
Add the green beans and macaroni and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Then add the kidney beans, and cook for 2 minutes more.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with or without toast/bread.
Will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.