Monday 17 January 2011

Souplover Man

Thank you Lidl. Your central Aisle of Teutonic Wonder has again revealed a shining pearl of reasonably-priced kitchen equipment that has surely improved my life.

I like gadgets but I'm not very good at buying them because I keep putting off the purchase of them, never sure of choosing the best one available for my budget. Thus is was with the Lidl hand blender. I spied it in the Aisle of Wonder shortly before Christmas. At £9.99 it looked a steal - solidly built, with a reassuringly workmanlike heft and a burnished stainless-steel shaft. But I abandoned it, reasoning that there was no way that anyone could really make a decent blender with a reasonable motor for £9.99 retail. However, when I went back early in the new year to do some other shopping, I noticed that it was still on offer but that there was only one left. This time it was mine.

My wife and I make a lot of soup. It's so easy, cheap and satisfying to make I've often thought that, if I ever went into the catering industry, I would set up a wee cafe selling nothing but. Before the advent of the Lidl hand blender we had to take our soup and pour it into an ageing Magimix, a few ladles at a time. Now we just boil up the veg (or whatever) until tender then render it down to velvety mellifluousness, in-pot, with a few pulses (sic) of the blender.

We used it to make celeriac soup for Christmas dinner. I could have done with adding more liquid, as it came out a bit thick. But, as we were only serving small cups of it in between other gargantuan courses, it wasn't too filling for the purpose.

The celeriac soup recipe was gleaned from our trusty New Covent Garden Book of Soups. We've found the recipes in our 1996 edition to be reliable. But what are they up to these days? I recently bought a carton of their 'Root Vegetable Medley' and it was horrible: undercooked veg, nasty colour and no detectable salt. What is this nonsense about salt anyway? Sodium is a required electrolyte in the body, and adding salt to your cooking won't do you any harm. It will just make your food taste better.

January can be a hard month. Today is "Blue Monday", statistically the most depressing day of the year. So it's a good time to cheer yourself up by getting out a gigantic pot, a motley-looking assortment of seasonal ingredients and a hefty choppy device (Lidl or otherwise), and souping your way to happiness.

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