Thursday, October 4, 2007

Day Four: Broccoli

I was thinking this morning about a friend's broccoli soup with lemon and so I called her for the recipe and she said, it's not broccoli but pea! It's a soup she makes out of frozen peas with - er - whatever. I won't go into it now, because I'll probably have a go next week, like. I did go down to East Street to buy the ingrediments but I guess I had broccoli on the mind and, down East Street, they all had broccoli on ice.

I went to the stall displaying the cheapest price, but so did almost everyone else and I really didn't have time to queue. I noticed, BTW, that this was the only greengrocery stall in the market run by your actual b+b sarf Londoners. I mean, it's no skin off my nose, but what happened to all them ruddy faced f+v merchants? I looked around and they've all been replaced by immigrants. The woman who sold me my broccoli in the end had a headscarf and an indeterminate accent I can categorise only as 'foreign'. I filled up a carrier bag with probably five kilos of yer broccoli and got half a dozen big fat carrots and a couple of onions she said she'd thrown in for free. At least I think that's what she said, boom boom: £5.70.

With the bigger, 16 litre pot and a hunky outboard liquidiziser I've acquired and what with it being Fare Shares day, I figured I'd up the quantities. Strait broccoli soup is all very well, but then there's blue cheese; Stilton, even. But the trouble with cheese and yoghurt, too, come to mention it, is that they're not vegan and the kind of people who patronise Fare Shares tend to be. So I was wondering if it was worth bothering with cheese or yoghurt while buying a couple of corek at Oli's when I clocked the jars of Ajvar.

This piquant red pepper relish is what made Yugoslavia work until Tito toppled off his perch and maybe it could offer a way back to National unity? Instead of focussing on whose Ajvar is best, the independent republics of the former Yugoslavia need to recognise that the more important fact, upon which they can all agree, is that this concoction of sweet red bell peppers and aubergines spiked with chilli is what the Balkans should be famous for. Anyway, for what its worth, the brand I bought was Podravka, from Croatia.

In order to maximise the broccoli flavour, I cooked this soup in two stages. I chopped of the florets and set them aside, then cubed the stalks and sweated the chunks with the mirepoix - no garlic, no spice - slowly adding six litres of bouillon before liquidamisering the mixture. The new-to-me outboard needs a new blade but it churned the cooked vegetables into soup, eventually. Then I poured in another two litres of boiling water and added the florets. Brought the pot back to the boil, turned off the heat and left the soup to stand for ten minutes, cooling, before giving it a final whizz.

I finished the soup and brought the outboard over to the sink to rinse by running it in a jug of soapy water and it went pop. There's literal sparks and the fuse popped out. Luckily the soup was finished and Jan Duke of Enigma Systems was sitting right there, waiting for her soup, so she fixed it straight after. Good as second hand, but it still needs a new blade.

Jan had been round the yard in her capacity as Chair of the IYA and a lot of people from the workshops came in today. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and they tended to drift down to the picnic tables in the yard, but they also tended to make donations based upon a realistic estimate of the market value of the product combined with a sincere desire to see the venture succeed. Plus one passer by was so bowled over by the concept of a community soup kitchen that she gave us a tenner and another friend of mine who's been in for three days in a row finally put his hand in his pocket. The average donation today was nearly £1.50;-)

I had to split at three, but Louisa came in after her class at Morley College and Jen came too with Esme. They kept the place open for a other few hours and maybe a dozen more folks climbed the stairs for soup. Among them, a lovely woman called Iraxte who lives on Albert Estate. She wrote in the log bok: "Muy rica! Great idea! It's been a life saver having a place to nourish myself with my baby, thank you"

my name is Irene. i am four and half months old.
Soup Maker: Russell
Soup: Broccoli
Other ingredients: Ajvar
No. of bowls served: 28
Expenditure: £9.78
Donations: £41.50
Running balance: +£39.96

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