CATCHING UP WITH THE KETCHUP
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.