What’s the dirtiest page in my copy of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II? Page 7, because it has the recipe for bacon and celeriac soup, a dish that couldn’t be any more delicious or wintery. I did try to fiddle with the recipe by adding apple and marjoram to the list of ingredients. The apple didn’t change much, although the marjoram complimented the bacon nicely. Alas, I’ve decided to share an unaltered version of this recipe.
This is a nice and easy dish, perfect a cold day when you need comfort food but don’t want the stodginess of it. I have deep admiration for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and I’m obsessed with onion squash. I tend to blitz the peppers in a blender straight after bringing them home and store the purée in a glass container in the fridge. If you can’t get hold of chipotle peppers, replace them with an additional teaspoon of smoked paprika, half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes, and a diced tomato.
Roasted onion squash is the food of gods; it tastes like perfectly seasoned roast chicken, and I can’t get enough of it. You don’t have to peel the squash but if you do, use a regular vegetable peeler.
Feta cheese can be replaced by gherkins in brine – try to find them in the Polish chilled food section at any major supermarket, or at health stores.
As the weather gets colder, I naturally drift towards heavier, headier flavours and aromas, leaving my beloved Mediterranean cuisine behind along with my tan and my hair smelling of sea water. I do like a hearty soup, especially if it’s warming and fragrant. This lentil and tomato soup not only ticks these boxes, but also tastes like something from an Indian kitchen, just much lighter and requiring far less effort. It’s at its best on the second, or even third day. The recipe is a slightly modified version of one by Whiteplate.
I’m not sure if it’s me, or if pasta actually has a real stigma as something that’s difficult to make. My story with making fresh pasta is the same as when I was learning to bake sourdough bread – it seemed difficult, so I avoided it for a really long time. Unnecessarily!
Since we’re in peak tomato season it would be silly not to take the full advantage. Tomatoes in any shape or form are one of the staples in my kitchen. I have only two tumbling varieties this year, producing small fruit, so there was no point in oven-drying them as I’d end up with something resembling an oversized raisin. This tomato soup seemed the best choice to use the surplus. If you haven’t got enough fresh tomatoes, you can use canned whole or chopped instead – but obviously don’t roast them! Roasting makes fresh tomatoes sweeter and gives soups and sauces that lovely muted orange colour, otherwise achieved by a slow-and-low cooking process. It also increases the levels of cancer-preventing lycopene!
This dish originally comes from Strawberries From Poland, a blog by Ania Włodarczyk, the very first food blog I’ve ever visited. Ania is from Gdańsk (my hometown), and the borough where she lives is a stone’s throw away from where I lived. I used to visit her blog far more often than I do these days, because the beautiful photos she takes of her surroundings pull on my heartstrings. I’d never go back to living in Poland, but the beauty of Gdańsk Oliwa makes me very nostalgic.
This dish is a perfect example of me freestyling in the kitchen. Full of Mediterranean flavours, light and deeply satisfying at the same time. Chorizo is one of my favourite things in the world, and the one brand that I always keep a stash of is Los Berones (available at Waitrose). It’s delicious, smoky, spicy, nitrate-free, and made with 4 ingredients.