I sprained my ankle. It was not graceful (are they ever?), I was not drunk (contrary to popular opinon) and it was not a dramatic fall (kind of boring actually). I slipped on some leaves I was kicking- and no the leaves were not soaked in tequilla. It was just a cold Sunday evening and I was out for a walk with the food team and the next thing I knew I was grabbing my ankle in a dizzy sweat by the side of the road. I knew the instant swelling was not a good sign.
Working in a kitchen on one leg is not an activity I recommend doing at home. But this was a big filming week for us, so I knew I had to pull weight, quite literally. I spent the first day sat with one leg on the counter, julienning ginger and chillis. It was not graceful nor elegant- I’m beginning to think these two qualities are not applicable to my nature. So on day two I adopted a different approach- with the bad leg kneeled on a wheelie office chair I wheeled and wove around the kitchen, using my good leg to power me along. Effective, if not slightly luny. But lets just emphasize the effective part. Watch out people the bossy one is now on wheels!
Making dinner after long days of high intensity wheeling is never going to be creative. Filling a bowl with soup I’d made a few days ago and heating it in the hotel microwave is frankly as good at it gets. But this soup is a pretty welcome tummy-filler after a long day working. It’s comforting for the belly and soul if not for the swollen bruised mass that I once referred to as my left ankle.
It’s full of veggies and a little bit of bacon- for uh, protein and flavour. You can leave it out if you wish, but I love the smokyness it brings to the soup. This is one of those soups that I think is best left sort of chunky. Actually, in all honesty the fact that the chard stems turned the liquid pinkish made me quite hesitant to blend it. What colour would it turn out? Plus, I find if I’m having soup for dinner it feels like more of a complete meal if it has some texture to it. So I puree’d a little, just to thicken then stirred through the chard leaves until wilted to serve.
So now that I’m sorted on the working and making dinner thing I’d really appreciate it if someone could provide me with ways to get me back running! The Director down here has been trying to convince me that eating potato chips will mend it nicely….now wouldn’t I love to believe that one!
Pumpkin, chard & chickpea soup
If you want to make this soup vegan, remove the bacon and add a little extra olive oil. This soup tastes best when when it’s not piping hot.
Diet facts: healthy, wholesome, delicious
3 slices smoked streaky bacon
2 medium-sized onions
2 garlic cloves
1 small bunch chard
650g/1 lb 4 oz pumpkin, squash or sweet potato
300g/1 medium sized potato
1.2 Liters/5 cups water or stock
300g/10 oz cooked chickpeas
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp cumin seeds, optional
chop the bacon fairly finely • peel and finely chop the onions • Peel and finely chop the garlic • Wash the chard. Separate the leaves and stems and finely chop the stems • Peel and seed the pumpkin and chop into small bite-sized cubes • peel and chop the potato into small bite-sized cubes
How to make
1/ Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the bacon and cook over a medium heat until most of the fat has rendered and it is beginning to colour. Remove some of the fat, if desired! Add the onions, garlic and chard stems to the pan and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until very soft. If anything begins to stick add a splash of oil or water.
2/ Add the cubed pumpkin, potato and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 1o minutes then add the chickpeas. Continue cooking until the pumpkin and potato cubes are tender but still firm (about 5 minutes but this will depend on how small your cubes are). At this point I like to puree half of the soup and keep the other half chunky. You can puree it all or leave it all chunky. Now you want to tear up the chard leaves and stir them into the pot until wilted. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3/ To serve toast the cumin seeds in a small hot frying pan until you can smell them toasting. Sprinkle over the soup with a drizzle of oil.