The soup production line continues in the Feeding Boys kitchen. The optimum time to make it is on a Sunday evening ready for the week ahead. Matthew was delighted to come home from a day shift to wafts of freshly cooked leek and potato soup and tucked straight into a bowl with some buttered granary bread. Being a vegetarian at a fire station can often leave him a bit hungry so he’s always on the hunt for a supplementary snack when he gets in.
Making your own soup very much fits into the ethos of the Slow Food movement, an association created to counter the rise of fast food and fast life. Just stopping to think about where you food comes from, making a bit more of a connection with it, taking time to enjoy and value it has to be a good thing.
Slow Food doesn’t have to mean it takes all day to cook something, but taking the time (all 20 minutes of it) to make your own soup using seasonal and, where possible, local ingredients is a far healthier approach to food.
The reason I mention Slow Food is because I took Sam and Arlo along to the Grana Padano and Slow Food Kids cookery event in South London a few weeks ago…
The day was a huge success, especially as the boys got to make gnocchi with Italian chef Francesco Mazzei and go on a Taste Adventure. The adventure encourages children to think about food as they journey through five interactive zones, based on the five senses: taste, sight, touch, smell and hearing. Sam and Arlo had a blast – especially as eating was the main focus of the day!
I was pretty delighted myself as there were huge wheels of Grana Padano dotted around which we were encourage to dig into. Like Parmesan it’s a lovingly created Italian cheese that’s been created the same way for hundreds of years and has the PDO status protecting it’s authenticity.
My absolute favourite tip from the day was how to make rather impressive and gourmet looking crisps out of Grana Padano cheese, so I thought I’d share that with you along with my leek and potato soup – it certainly adds a bit of style to something fairly humble.
If you pop them into a little ramekin on the table if you’re serving up soup as a starter, the cheese crisps look really special. You don’t need to tell people you made them in the microwave…
Leek and potato soup with Gran Padano crisps
makes 1.5 litres
for the soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, chopped
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped
1.2 litres vegetable stock
for the cheese crisps
Gran Padano cheese, grated (or any italian hard cheese)
1. For the soup: heat the olive oil in a large lidded pan and then add the leeks and potatoes and cook over a medium heat, lid on for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them catching.
2. Pour over the hot stock, season with black pepper, replace the lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a then blitz with a blender until smooth. Either eat straight away or store in the fridge/freezer for another time.
3. To make the cheese crisps: line a small microwavable plate with greaseproof paper then scatter a generous teaspoon-sized clump of finely grated cheese. Microwave on full power for 30-60 seconds until melted and starting to crisp, allow to cool and then peel off the paper. Cook in batches until you have as many as you need.
Click here to have a go at the Slow Food Kids’ Taste Adventure online and to find more about what the Slow Food movement is all about
A huge thanks to Slow Food UK and Grana Padano cheese for such a brilliant day out – we had a fab time and the boys have both been extra enthusiastic about helping out with cooking ever since