Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I must have been quite crazed in the head when I insisted you would get a proper blog today. I drove three hundred miles last night, between six and eleven thirty; got up at six this morning, and drove another two hundred and sixty. It took FOUR double espressos, two Neurofen, two Pro-Plus, two pork pies (I needed the protein, and they were out of egg sandwiches), and an Eddie Izzard CD to get me home. There was torrential rain, thick fog, the last of the snow on the mountains, and a moment when I ran out of oil and thought the engine would explode. People get very cross with me because I don't just pick up and go to the south whenever they want me to. They cannot understand why. This is why.
All I could think of as I hit a low point somewhere south of Perth was soup. The most elegant woman I know gave me one of the finest soups I ever had a few weeks ago, and it was this fine soup that entered my mind. When I had asked her how she made it, she said, 'Oh, I think I just threw in some carrots and tomatoes and things.'
For some reason, probably lack of all known vitamins in the last 24 hours (pork pies?????; and they were horrid Ginsters ones bought from the chiller cabinet of a dreary petrol station at Hamilton), this was the only soup that would do. It turned out pretty well. I am offering it to you in penance, because I have been a useless blogger lately, and I am incapable of speech, let alone telling you the story of my trip.
Take a litre of water; add two tablespoons of Marigold Bouillon powder. Normally I say: use whatever stock you like; this time I think I must insist on Marigold because this is a delicate broth, nicely poised.
Very finely dice: one onion, three cloves of garlic, one fat carrot, three sticks of celery. Simmer for fifteen minutes. Then: more fine dicing, of three large tomatoes, and two cooked beetroots (you can get them in little vacuum packs in the supermarket, or if you are very domestic goddessy, you can buy them raw and cook them yourself). It goes without saying they must be the plain ones, not the ones in vinegar. Add to the soup, simmer for another five minutes. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes. Check for seasoning. That's it.
The very elegant woman put dry sherry in her soup, but I did not dare risk alcohol in my addled state, so once the broth was in the bowl, I put a tiny squeeze of lemon to see if I could replicate the sharpness. Worked a treat.
You can eat the soup with all its bits, or if you are feeling bashed up from travel, as I am, you can just strain the glorious dark red broth off the top, and drink it from a Moroccan tea glass.
Now I am going to lie down in a darkened room.
This is what the Lake District looked like when I left it at six o'clock this morning:
Ladyships, stretching their legs:
Can we go home now?
Just as I hit Fettercairn, after hours of filthy weather, the sun came out, and this is what I saw as I drove over the hill:
This is my road home:
Sometimes I really do wonder what I did to deserve it.