Slow Cooker Bacon, Broccoli and Potato Soup

I have been experimenting with vegan cooking lately, but this is decidedly not veggie friendly. It is, however, very simple, inexpensive and spoonie-friendly.

Serves 6

You will need:

2 onions, chopped

2 tins potatoes

300g frozen broccoli

1kg cooking bacon

Handful of fresh rosemary

Handful of fresh thyme

Black pepper

1 vegetable stock cube

Water, boiled

Splash of vegetable oil

 

1. First, remove the fat from the cooking bacon with a very sharp knife, then place in a frying pan with a splash of oil. Heat over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. It will become a greyish pink when it is cooked thoroughly.

2. Meanwhile, place the broccoli, boiling water and potatoes in the slow cooker along with the herbs, stock cube and seasoning.

3. When the bacon is cooked, drain off the fat and and discard. Add the bacon to the slow cooker.

4. In the same frying pan heat the chopped onion until waxy, then add that too to the slow cooker. Top up the slow cooker with water to cover by a centimetre or two.

5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

6. When cooked, blend until smooth.

7. Serve with warm, freshly baked bread and a sprig of parsley.

 

TOP TIPS

  • Make use of all the functions of your food processor, if you have one. I used mine to chop the onions and later to blend the soup. For spoon-counters like me a food processor is a real blessing!

Venison and Bacon Casserole

This is not really a budget recipe, though it is still cheaper to make it than to buy it. This is more of a special occasion dish. We’re just about to move house so I was trying to use up what’s left in the freezer. I discovered bacon and some venison. I defrosted them in the morning, and in the evening prepared this dish. Who knew that using up what’s in the freezer could be so tasty?! I served it with instant mash (trying to use up what’s in the cupboard – I keep instant mash for ’emergencies’) and used up the last of the mixed vegetables that were lurking in the freezer.

 

You will need:

500g venison pieces

300g smoked bacon (I used oak smoked bacon from a local farm where the pigs are free range – the bacon is delicious)

1 onion, chopped

300ml red wine (any old red wine will do)

2 stock cubes (I used free range organic chicken stock cubes which I picked up for next to nothing as they were past their best before date)

2 heaped tablespoons potato flour/cornflour (wheat flour will work fine but will need more stirring to prevent lumps forming)

1 teaspoon garlic granules

Black pepper,  to taste

500ml water

1 bouquet garni sachet or 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provençe (dried mixed herbs will do if you don’t have these)

1 tablespoon oil

 

1. Using a clean pair of sharp scissors, cut the bacon into strips and then cut into small pieces about 1cm x 2cm each.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the venison and bacon. Cook over a gentle heat until the meat has browned, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the onion and cook gently for a few more minutes until softened.

4. Add the garlic and the flour and stir to coat the meat mixture,

5. Add the red wine and stock cubes and stir gently until a smooth, thick liquid/paste has formed.

6. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well, and top up with 500ml water (or more, if necessary).

7. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.

8. Transfer to a large casserole dish, cover* and place in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180°C for one hour.

9. Serve with potatoes and mixed vegetables.

 

TOP TIPS

*If you have a large ceramic or glass dish but no lid, use aluminium cooking foil. Simply place it over the top and scrunch it up around the edges. It doesn’t need to be air tight, just secured enough to stay in place. Make sure the foil is not touching the heating elements.