Cawl Elfen Hanner Cant (Fifty Element Soup)

The other day I made a soup containing 50 ingredients for less than £10.  It doesn’t have to be takeaways every night – you can live cheaply on fresh food.  (Note the effort put into purging that last sentence of all traces of Jamie Oliveresque sanctimoniousness and smugness).

large knob of butter/margarine; 2 onions, chopped; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 1 green chilli, chopped; 1 large carrot, sliced; 2 sticks of celery, sliced; ¼ swede, cubed; 1 parsnip, sliced; 1 turnip, cubed; 1 sweet potato, cubed; 1 Jerusalem artichoke root, cubed; a handful of mushrooms, sliced; 2 leeks, sliced; 1 small broccoli, broken into florettes; 1 small cauliflower, broken into florettes; 1 marrow, cubed; 1 courgette, sliced; 1 lettuce, shredded; a cup of peas; 2 cups of broad beans; the kernels from 1 sweetcorn; a cup of chick peas, soaked overnight & boiled for 30 mins; a cup of yellow split peas, soaked overnight; a cup of aduki beans, soaked overnight; a cup of red lentils, soaked for an hour; a cup of green lentils, soaked for an hour; a cup of pearl barley; a cup of mini pasta shells; 10 medium potatoes, quartered; 1 cabbage, shredded; 2 sweet peppers, chopped; 2 large tomatoes, chopped; a handful of spinach; a handful of kale; a handful of watercress; a bunch of spring onions, chopped; tsp sage; tsp thyme; tsp rosemary; tsp marjoram; tsp fenugreek leaves; tbsp parsley; tbsp lovage; tbsp mint; a bay leaf; pinch of mace; pinch of nutmeg; pinch of turmeric; black pepper; salt.  Oh, and water makes 51!
Over a low heat melt the butter/marg in your biggest pot; fry the onion, garlic & chilli until soft; add the carrot, celery, swede, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato, artichoke, mushroom & leek and continue to fry for 5 mins, stirring regularly; add enough water as your pot will take; add all the remaining ingredients; cover and cook gently for 30 minutes, adjusting seasoning as necessary.  

The soup took hours of washing, peeling and chopping to prepare, during which time I grazed continually on rhubarb fool, pistachio nuts, banana bread and other snacks: so I couldn’t eat a thing by the time it was dished up, and my partner didn’t like it at all (no meat). We stuck it in the freezer for emergencies, or guests. If all else fails I can always repoint the walls with it…