48. Bloody Mary soup and 49. Chilli cornbread

Home Cooking Made Easy p28 and 53

For this Lorraine challenge, I’ve had to buy quite a few things I wouldn’t normally have in my storecupboard – kaffir lime leaves, mirin, pink peppercorns etc. But I’m afraid I wasn’t going to buy a bottle of vodka, just to add some to this soup. No, not even for you dear reader.

So it’s actually a Hot & spicy Virgin Mary soup, and that’s fine with me! It’s a really simple soup to make – brown the onion, then chuck in the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil (chopped tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato puree, bay leaf, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper – more about that later). After simmering for half an hour, blend in batches. I blended mine pouring the batches into the food processor bowl as I went.

Unfortunately, I poured one batch all over the newly mopped kitchen floor. Perhaps I should have licked it up, given that the floor was so clean, but I didn’t. Then reheat and add tabasco if needed, and vodka if wanted.

Serve with celery batons.

I used 1 tsp of Cayenne pepper and it was unbelievably spicy. I love spicy food and so does Mr Cookingfanatic, but even he struggled. It was even spicier the second day reheated (any food scientists want to tell me why that is?). The celery helped cool it down. Next time I’d try 1/2 tsp.

I wanted to serve it with Spring onion & red chilli cornbread, but in hindsight, extra chilli probably wouldn’t have helped. The recipe called for cornmeal or polenta. Tesco online didn’t have cornmeal but it had polenta. It arrived as a solid block. I don’t cook with polenta so I wasn’t sure what to do. I chopped it up and put it in, sort of thinking to myself, “maybe it melts like cheese.” Error. Lorraine says “the mix will look very sloppy, but I promise it will come good.” It certainly looked sloppy, but I pressed on.

After about an hour of cooking, this is what I was left with:

So I quickly made a 21st century loaf, which worked this time!

A week later, I bought some cornmeal and tried again. I also found ground polenta in the shop, which is the sort of polenta you need. It is a very easy recipe because you just chuck everything in the bowl. It is wet, like a muffin mix, but not as sloppy as the first try! It took 40-50 minutes to cook right through at about 160’C.

We ate it with a vegetable soup. It’s incredibly filling and quite spicy when you get some chilli, but very tasty.

I used up my leftover polenta block by frying slices of it to serve with sausage casserole, roasted root vegetables and parmesan cheese.

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