In these days of credit crunch ...

(seriously, all day long, that's all we hear about on the radio...we KNOW about it...What we need is some stuff that will CHEER US UP please mister radio DJs), I  pay a little bit more attention to what I buy, cook and how to finish leftovers. Not JUST because of the credit crunch. I don't like wasting food. It's a habit from my childhood. See here and here for more on that story....

Anyway, week meals.

Especially when hubby is away (abandonning us to go and play golf work hard training sales people to do a better job), we live on fairly simple and cheap meals really. Soups and pies in winter, big salads, quiches and tarts in summer.
Funny puddings

made at Rachel's great Friday morning kids session of Mucky Pups in West Chiltington...

CAKE here...
and there...

for the kids (GREAT EXCUSE!). Hey, I only make MONKEY CAKE to use bananas that are too ripe, honest.

A-ny-way... the plan for today was to finish all my leftover vegetables since my next VEGETABLE BOX is due tomorrow. A carrot, cumin and cardamon soup followed by a spring greens and parmesan quiche was on the cards. OR the quiche and a...carrot cake! Guess which one would have won the fight in my household!!!

Except when I got home, I received A HUG IN A BOWL.

My neighbour and GREAT cook John, who used to work at the Café Royal in London many years ago, made a minestrone soup and far too much of it. And so he gave me half.

Reminded me when I stopped at my grand parents on Sunday afternoon before my mum or my dad drove me back to Lyon. They'd always give me something to take with me, either a jar of home made jam, a LARGE slice (like a quarter!) of a cake,   a saucisson or soem cheese. I didn't get it at the time, thinking "it's not like I am going to starve you know" but now, thinking back about it, I do...get it :)

And today, it was just a bowl of soup, but on a week day, when I wasn't particularly motivated to cook, it was just perfect. And SO tasty too.

I will go and check his exact recipe, but in the meantime, here's the one I use, taken from a lovely book hubby bought me for Christmas "Hearty soups", published by Ryland Peters &Small:

200g cannelleni beans
250g smoked bacon or pancetta, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large stalks of parsley, lightly crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed and rinsed
3 carrots, cubed
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped
200g of italian risotto rice or vermicelli pasta
1 small round cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced
250g peas
3 small courgettes, halved lenghtway and thickly sliced
sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Put the pancetta and the parsley in a stockpot, heat gently and fry until the fat runs
add the olive oil, heat briefly, then add the onion and ocok gently until softened but not browned
Add the potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, celery and season with salt and pepper. 
Add 3 litres of water and heat until simmering. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
Add the rice and cook for a further 10 minutes
Add the cabbage and cannelleni beans, cook for another 5 minutes
Add the courgettes and the peas, cook for 3 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender
Remove the parsley stalk and serve with crusty or garlic bread.