CATCH­ING UP WITH THE KETCHUP

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

My ear­li­est mem­o­ries of food are of my mother pre­par­ing her own veg­etable soup. No food pro­ces­sors in those days – it was hard work.

Veg­eta­bles were peeled, washed and chopped and cooked in a large pot of stock. They were then sep­a­rated from the liq­uid and pressed by hand through two sieves, a coarse one first and then a fine one. Nowa­days, we have all kinds of equip­ment to peel, chop, dice and cook soup. A good lunch it can make, too.

Other mem­o­ries of my child­hood are of be­ing al­lowed, aged four, to ac­com­pany my older brother (then ris­ing four­teen) on a camp­ing ex­pe­di­tion to a field a mile or so from our house. My mother packed our sup­per: slices of cooked ham, with bread and but­ter. A small bot­tle of Heinz tomato ketchup went along too, for added flavour.

I was in heaven, watch­ing my older brother heat up his sup­per in a “Billy Can” over a fire he’d made of sticks and drift wood and cried loudly when my father came to take me home. My brother stayed the night in his tent.

Ever since – many years! – I have en­joyed ham with tomato ketchup. Our years in Cyprus were no ex­cep­tion – the coun­try has one of the best pork in­dus­tries in the world and the ham and ba­con prod­ucts are se­cond to none. So, thinly sliced Lountza and lo­cally made ketchup were reg­u­larly on our ta­ble. And none bet­ter than the lo­cally made stuff. 1. Melt but­ter in a large thick saucepan. 2. Fry leek/onion, ba­con, mush­rooms and cel­ery for around 5 min­utes stir­ring reg­u­larly. 3. Add root veg­eta­bles, stir and cook on medium heat for around five min­utes, stir­ring now and then.

4. Re­move pan from cooker, stir in flour and cook gen­tly for a cou­ple of min­utes, stir­ring the while. 5. Add milk, stir in care­fully, and cook a minute or two. 6. Add toma­toes and stock, slowly, stir­ring care­fully. 7. Bring slowly to boil, turn down heat and sim­mer for around 30 min­utes.

If you like thick soup, use a lit­tle more flour. If you like it thin­ner, add more stock at the sim­mer­ing point.

Serve with crou­tons, if you like, and sprin­kle mint and pars­ley about with gay aban­don if you choose, but for me some crunchy, crispy fresh baked vil­lage bread is the only ac­com­pa­ni­ment nec­es­sary.

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