“Why on earth are you buying those hideous bowls?” My friend Tom asked looking down at me in disgust.
“They’re not hideous, they’re rustic” I reply unperturbed, turning one over in my hands.
“They’re rancid, with any luck they’ll all smash in your luggage on the flight home.
“Jamie’s luggage you mean, I can’t fit them in mine… Hey, maybe I could make that Bulgarian soup we had last night in them?”
“That soup tasted like shit.”
“Did it? Are you sure? The bean one?”
“What bean one?… Oh, maybe I didn’t have that one” Tom said looking increasingly concerned at the mugs I had just precariously placed on top of the two bowls, four plates and skillet I was holding. The shop assistant anxiously hovered behind us, I turned and smiled at her, she did not smile back.
“What’s her problem?” I whispered, ” I’m not gonna steal them for god sake, we’re not 13 in Superdrug anymore… But you know, if they will insist on charging £9 for a masacara then what’s a teenage girl to do, right?
“Think it’s the fact you’re clumsely walking around her delicate shop in your ski boots laden with her precious pottery. You’re literally an English bull in her Bulgarian China shop.”
“Oh… Shall we come back tomorrow then?”
“Absolutely not. Come on, lets go and get you so drunk you forget all about these vile bowls.”
I didn’t of course and managed to transport them all safely back to the UK the following day. Aha! In your face Tom (although thank you very much for organising such a marvellous holiday I really appreciate it.) I mean, was it bit smelly? Yes. Was the queue to the gondola long, arduous and potential life ruining? Perhaps. But seriously, what’s not to love about 30p cans of larger, open hot springs and processed cheese served with cornflakes and jam. Simply excellent. So on that note I will leave you with this rather delicious, traditional, Bulgarian soup, served in one of my ‘ugly’ bowls. Nasladi se! (means ‘enjoy’ in Bulgarian, obviously.)
Bulgarian Bean Soup
Serves a generous 2 or 4 as a starter / Takes 50 minutes / Vegan
(15 minutes to prepare, 35 minutes to cook)
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 Medium white onion, finely chopped (I actually used a red onion but it’s traditional to use white)
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
Half a stick of celery, diced
Half a de-seeded red pepper, diced
1 large tomato or 2 medium sized tomatoes, grated (yes grated)
2 cans cannellini beans, washed and drained
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
Half a teaspoon of salt
1 Litre of vegetable stock (1 vegetable stock pot)
Pinch of black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil to serve (optional)
Small handful of freshly chopped parsley to sever (optional)
1. In a large pot, sweat down the chopped onion in a tsp of sunflower oil over a medium heat. (If the onions are getting too much colour add a bit of water to help them steam rather than burn.)
2. After a good five minutes the onion will have started to soften, at this point add the finely diced carrot, celery, red pepper and grated tomato (firmer tomatoes are better for grating but if you only have soft ripe ones just roughly chop them). Give it a good stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the strained cannelloni beans, a teaspoon of parsley, a teaspoon of oregano, salt, pepper and stock and bring to the boil.
3. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a high simmer for around 30-35 minutes stirring occasionally. (This may seem like a long time but the soup needs time to reduce down and thicken.
4. Once ready, take off the heat and ladle into bowls. Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley, a sprinkle of salt and a dash of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
If you’ve had a go at making my Bulgarian bean soup or any of my recipes I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org