Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor doggie a bone…

Sometimes I feel like Old Mother Hubbard, when we haven’t done the grocery shopping for the weekend and the likelihood of getting it done is diminishing. I’ll have to scrounge around the kitchen in search of ingredients to fill a week’s worth of dinners.

This weekend, despite it having been a four day weekend, seems have progressed that way. I’ve done plenty of study, consumed plenty of red wine, and had very little sleep. It’s Easter Monday night so the shops are closed. Luckily, after a quick peek in the cupboard, I think we’ll eat rather well this week even if we don’t shop. Perhaps not a bone as in the rhyme, but, and this is exciting news, we can have soup! Lots of soup! Myriads of varieties of soup! Soups from numerous cuisines, creamy blended soups, chunky bean-ey soups, warming, slurpy dumpling soups!

Sorry to bombard you with sloppy foods. I know the last post was pretty much a soupgasm. You may be worried this blog is going to become reduced to a soup blog, and the name will be changed to ‘Liquid Foods in Bulk’ (or a more delightful name like ‘Bowls and Spoons’ – you can steal that if you like, I’m not using it). It won’t, I promise. But when faced with a kitchen full of odds and ends, soup is the answer.

This is what we have to work with:

  • garlic, red onions, potatoes
  • carrots, celery, leek, tomatoes
  • mung beans (lots, I had a mung bean mush disaster on Thursday night so have lots of cooked mung beans leftover), a tin of lentils and various dried legumes
  • coconut milk, curry pastes, antipasti (sundried tomatoes, olives, etc)
  • frozen spinach, dumplings, peas
  • herbs – rosemary, parsley, sage, mint, thyme
  • other bits and pieces – noodles, barley, kombu, dried porcini mushrooms, tinned corn, a new curry powder

These are some of the possible combinations I’ve come up with so far:

  • potato and leek soup
  • curried mung bean soup
  • traditional chunky vegetable soup with mung beans
  • dumpling noodle soup with spinach
  • carrot and ginger soup
  • garlic and sage soup
  • pea and corn soup

So three guesses what this week’s ‘theme’ is going to be.

Last night I made curried mung bean soup and took it to a friend’s house, using up the red onion, the tomatoes, one small tin of corn, mung beans, some curry powder and coconut milk. Next time I make it (oh yes, there will be a next time) I will record and photograph it for posting.

Tonight I made French potato and leek soup. It’s French because a) potato and leek soup seems like it should be of French origin, and b) because I used bouquet garni to flavour it. Oolala.

I also made some celery salt with the leaves from the celery bunch, which not only looked pretty, but tastes amazing on soup! Even for non-celery-lovers like Ash and I. I’d imagine it’d go well on all sorts of things – if I still ate eggs, I’d sprinkle it on poached eggs for breakfast. I was reluctant to use my expensive Maldon seasalt flakes for it initially, turns out it was worth the investment. But enough of that. The soup.

Thrown together at midday and simmering on the stove all afternoon while I studied – it smelt so good! If you don’t have hours to simmer it, maybe reduce to 3 cups of stock so it’s still nice and thick.

French potato and leek soup (serves 2 generously)


  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways and sliced finely
  • 1 stalk celery, leaves removed (and saved with the leaves of the rest of the bunch to make celery salt!)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/2 a handful of sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kitchen string, or be scummy and use hot pink nylon thread like I did. I hope the dye isn’t poisonous.
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (I used water and 4 tsp of this paste)
  • 3 small potatoes (230g), peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (veering a bit from the French theme)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or whatever your white liquid of choice is)
  • celery salt and pepper to serve, or just ordinary salt if that’s all you have


  1. Heat the wine in a saucepan until simmering.
  2. Turn the heat down, add the leek and cover.
  3. Make your bouquet garni – Halve the main stalk of the celery crossways (reserve the rest). Halve the carrot crossways and cut the smaller half into quarters lengthways. Stuff one piece of celery with the rosemary sprig, and the other with the sage leaves. Tuck the carrot pieces in to secure the herbs. Place a bay leaf on each and tie tightly with string. So now you should have two little bundles of celery stuffed with herbs, secured with carrot sticks and wrapped in bay leaves.
  4. Grate the rest of the carrot and slice the rest of the celery finely. Stir into the leek and cover again, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the stock, drop in the bouquet garni and potatoes. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down and simmer for a few hours. If you’re in a hurry just simmer until the potatoes are done.
  6. Allow to cool a little, fish out the bouquet garni (you can throw these out now) and blend. We like a little bit of chunkiness so I usually leave about 1/2 cup of soup in the pot to stir back through the blended part.
  7. Add lemon juice, soy sauce, soy milk, and taste it a few times, adding more of whatever it needs.
  8. Serve with celery salt and pepper, or just cracked salt and pepper.

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