Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Butter bean, leek, tomato and chorizo soup

I had a bit of a rude awakening on Sunday morning. There I was dozing away peacefully when a strange sound invaded my ears. No sooner did this annoying distraction wake me than my girlfriend Wren leapt into action, running into the front room like Marion Jones on drugs (well, like Marion Jones, I suppose).
Five minutes later she returned to the room and all became clear. You see, Wren has a new mobile phone, a state-of-the-art contraption which has a huge clockface on the front. Very 21st century. The sound was that of her phone alerting her to an urgent message.
"My phone has just told me I don't have to get up this morning because I'm not working," she informed me. What a useful message to get on a Sunday morning just after 8am.
It was a bit of a lazy day really after a rather long WoS shift on Saturday when I spent the first two hours answering various queries about things of which I knew absolutely nothing. The classic was some Wales on Sunday "reader" from the valleys who stormed: "I've got a complaint."
Another one? Ok, here we go, I thought.
"I was reading the TV pages of Wales on Sunday last week and it said 'International Rugby: 2.05". So I cancelled a trip out to watch the rugby, only to find out that it's on Sky!"
Oh dear.
I tried to explain that we had little to do with TV listings in the office as they were provided to us by the Press Association. "Oh, you lot have always got an excuse," he stormed. "Can I speak to someone important."
"Well, sir, I am executive editor, is that good enough?"
"Ok... well, I'm not blaming you, of course, but how can you say the rugby is on in your paper when it obviously isn't on? It's a lovely day and I had a chance to go on a day trip to Brecon."
Hmm. Then I had a thought. "Did it say what match was on?" I asked.
"Um, no. It just says International Rugby."
Grabbing for my Western Snail, I checked their listings in the Saturday Mag. "2.05: International Rugby," it said. "England v Australia: Under-20s World Cup."
All became clear and I told the ranting gentleman as such. "Oh... um... I see. Well I thought it would be Wales v South Africa."
"Yes, but I'm sure it will be a good game," I told him. He rang off rather sheepishly after that.
God, I'm fed up with complaints. Somehow, without any input from myself, I seem to have emerged as the South Wales Ego's Readers Champion and Letters page editor. It's a bit like being Lifeboat superintendent on the Titanic. The difference is the waves are made of Sh**.

On Friday Paps had a mate down so he demanded we attend Sh**ty O'Grimm's so he could prove he did have mates - to us, as well as his mate, I imagine.
During a cigarette break the Prince of Darkness watched a young girl in skimpy green skirt wobble down the street after partaking of far more alcohol than was good for her. She stumbled into Tony's chip shop and a few minutes later stumbled out. But she couldn't work out how to eat her chips while also holding her sausage in batter in the other hand. She ended up sitting on the ground in chip alley trying to nosh her supper.
It was quite a comic sight. Then seeing a fellow inbiber she stumbled across to the Prince and slurred: "Wanna buy me a drink, honey."
The Prince looked her up and down in his regal way and came to a conclusion. "Nah, you're all right," he said. Gutted, she wobbled off in the direction of home, sausage and chips tucked precariously under her arm.
"Mind you, if it had been Kate Moss in that state I may have come to a different decision," the Prince confided, conspiratorially.

The rest of Sunday turned into a relaxing rest day, watching Kevin Pietersen thump the New Zealanders in a one-sided cricket match, then being amazed at the brilliant comeback by the Turks in their European Championship winner-takes-all qualifier with the Czechs. Two-nil down with 15 minutes to go they managed to turn it around and win 3-2. Excellent.
And after all that there was the US Open with the injured Tiger Woods somehow grabbing an improbable birdie on the last hole to take the tournament to a play off. Poor old Rocco Mediate, who stood to be the oldest winner in the competition's history, ended up losing over the extra 18 holes on the Monday.

On the same day, I swam a mile and then visited the guru. In the evening I was planning to get the ironing done. Then The Fugitive rang, having returned from touring South Africa with the Welsh rugby team. With the sun still in the sky it was inevitable. "Fancy a beer?" I said. He turned up in shorts and sandals, a full two-weeks growth on his chinny chin chin. Apparently they don't have razors in the third world. He had also been on a big-game safari and was waxing lyrical about his close encounter with the King of the Jungle.
While in South Africa he also managed to arrive in Johannesburg without luggage and had to spend the afternoon shopping for pants in Woolworths.
Meanwhile, Rosey sent a text. "I hear you're getting married and Withers is the best man. Is that correct?" he inquired.
"You should know, you're on the nationals and they always get their gossip right," I informed him, remembering that just two weeks before he had rung me to inform me that I had already tied the knot. Some people...

The Wonderful One, meanwhile, sunning himself on the Meditteranean during an away-from-it-all holiday in Sardinia, sent me an absurd text. "Am I an idiot?" he inquired. "I am sitting here looking out on the Med and thinking: 'I wish I was back in Wales because I could have done the story about the Assembly Member Alan Cairns resigning after referring to Italians as Greasy Wops'."
"Yes, you are an idiot," I assured him.

The other lunchtime I fancied a light snack so found a good recipe in a Sainsbury's mag.
It was for Butter bean, leak, tomato and chorizo soup and it just hit the spot, with a hunk of french bread to accompany it. So without further ado, here it is...
Large chunk of chorizo
2 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 tins butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 pints chicken stock
4 large ripe vine tomatoes
fresh flat leaf parsley leaves.

Cut 12 thin slices off the chorizo.
Chop up the rest of it.
Heat the oil in a large, wide-based pan or wok.
Fry the leeks, celery and the chopped chorizo
Whiz half the butter beans in a liquidizer with half the chicken stock. Add the mixture to the pan with tomatoes, remaining beans and stock and seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Just before serving add the parsley and dry fry the 12 slices of chorizo for 3-4 minutes in a hot frying pan till crisp.
Pour soup into bowls, top with chorizo and serve with crusty French bread.

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