It’s something every mum worries about when her kids go off to university –how well are they going to eat? Will it be all crisps and Pot Noodles?
Mill Hill author Susan Gordon decided to go one better for her teenage daughter, Sasha – she wrote her a cookery book.
“They eat all these packet soups and have tiny kitchens,” Susan says, “so I wanted to do some good. And then researching the book proved very interesting so I just wanted to keep going.”
A Pot of Soup is a book of soup recipes that constitute an entire winter meal. “The idea is to use all the vegetables available to us in the Northern Hemisphere during winter,” Susan explains, “mushrooms, all the roots, cauliflower, cabbage.” And they’re all very easy to do, requiring very little cooking equipment and minimal space, and all freeze well.
Presented in alphabetical order, the recipes are interspersed with Susan’s own photographs, old posters used in the Ministry of Food’s war campaigns (Potato Pete jauntily declares ‘I make a good soup!’) and titbits of information, such as the history of the walnut and the fact that cauliflower is good when you’ve overindulged. “It’s like I’m in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking,” she says.
“Being in London, I found the history part of the food incredibly interesting so I’ve included some of my own pictures - Fortnum & Mason, Smithfield meat market, Billingsgate fish market.”
As well as to help her daughter at university, the book was a way to help the whole family adapt their diet to European tastes after returning from East Africa, where they ate a lot of meat.
“In the future, I think we’ll be eating less meat,” she says. “I’m not saying everyone should be vegetarian, but the book reflects that.” About 75 per cent of the recipes are vegetable, and include asparagus, aubergine, lentil with lime, mushroom with pastry crust, red cabbage, and spinach with yoghurt. The celery and cannellini bean and the butternut are both especially good.
Her parents moved to Kenya after the war when colonisation was encouraged and established a coffee farm there. When she became an adult she moved to Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then known. She left in 2003 and returned to north London, where her family was originally from.
But Susan with her something positive from East Africa - her love of cooking. The communities she lived in in both Kenya and Zimbabwe she describes as being made up of ‘proud cooks’ who shared recipes and ideas and used mouth wateringly fresh ingredients.
“Every night had to be a special dinner, even if it was just my husband and I. Everybody enjoyed food and if you were invited to someone’s house you were guaranteed a good meal and incredible hospitality.”
The proceeds from the cookery book will be going to the Doctor French care home in North Finchley, which her sister is chairperson of and which Susan regularly helps at fundraising events for.
A pot of soup is out now and available to buy from Amazon and Authorhouse, www.authorhouse.co.uk.