Introducing Potato Pete. He was a character from WWII who was designed to help people make more of the food that was available to them. Back then it was because enemy action prevented boats from bringing in supplies of foreign foods. These days it's useful to know because money's tight and getting tighter by the hour.
Luckily spuds are still cheap and plentiful and the weather's still cold enough to appreciate a bowl of soup. Soup's easy and even if you don't use potatoes as the main ingredient you can still use them to thicken other types.
BASIC SOUP RECIPE (serves 2)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pint of stock (any kind)
1 tablespoon of flour
Glug of cooking oil
Salt and pepper
A few dried herbs (any you like)
Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onions and potato. Fry gently for a few minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the flour and continue cooking for another minute or so. Stir well with a wooden spoon while you are doing that.
Now add a splash of the stock and keep stirring until it blends in. Keep adding the stock a little at a time until it's all in the pan. If you don't add it a bit at a time and you don't stir well it will all go lumpy.
Sprinkle in the dried herbs and add salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and simmer the whole thing for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Allow to cool slightly then put it through a blender. Serve with a swirl of yoghurt or a sprinkling of grated cheese and a good chunk of bread.
* You can add any kind of vegetables you like at the frying stage. Leeks work well in place of the onion. Carrots give an interesting colour. Celery is good. Sprouts are great - add a few chopped walnuts at the end and see how that tastes.
* If you don't like the finished soup colour, put it back in the pan, add a squeeze of tomato puree and cook it for another couple of minutes.
* If you've used a meat stock you can add chopped meat after the blender stage. Heat the soup thoroughly before eating. Chicken is good. Use sage as your flavouring herb and you'll have a hearty bowlful!
* You can also add chopped cooked vegetables after the blender stage. Cooked pulses go well at this stage too. Small tin of chick peas or similar.
* Add some tomato puree to the blended soup and simmer for a couple of minutes then throw in some cooked pasta shapes. Small ones work best.