Lockdown Chunky Vegetable Soup

I love big chunky soups like this, thick with whatever vegetables are plentiful or need eating up. This one begins, as many soups do, with onion, adding carrot, leeks and a few long, skinny but small ratte potatoes sprouting as if they’re growing white beards. I also happened to have a packet of smoked bacon lardons in the fridge. They go perfectly with soups like this, adding soul but are an optional extra. If I’d had cabbage or spinach, I’d be adding some of that too. The mood of this soup could be changed by adding a generous pinch of chilli flakes with the onion, finishing with a coriander instead of parsley garnish. A bowlful of this is a perfect lockdown lunch but could become supper with scraps of chicken or peeled prawns added right at the end.

Serves 4
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 45 min

1 onion, approx 170g
knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
100g smoked bacon lardons, optional
2 leeks, approx 250g
2 carrots, approx 180g
1 ½ chicken or vegetable stock cubes
1 litre boiling water
1 tbsp flour
200g waxy potatoes
squeeze lemon
few sprigs of flat leaf parsley

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in olive oil in a spacious, lidded, heavy-based pan and stir in the onion with a generous pinch of salt. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring often, adding the bacon if including. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are beginning to wilt, the bacon fat crisp and melting. Meanwhile, slice the leeks in 1cm thick rounds then agitate in a bowl of water and drain. Scrape the carrots and slice in thin rounds. Crumble the stock cubes in 1 litre boiling water from the kettle. By now the onions and bacon will be ready for the leeks. Stir them in, reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook for 5 minutes then sift the flour over the top, stirring until disappeared. Add the stock, increase the heat and stir as it comes to the boil, stirring as the soup thickens. Add carrots, peel, dice and rinse the potatoes and add them too. Return to boil, reduce the heat to establish a steady simmer, partially cover the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender. Season to taste with salt and lemon. Chop the parsley leaves and add just before serving.