Chunky Bacon, Butterbean and Tomato Soup

Not entirely in keeping with the wonderful weather we had at the weekend but I made this bacon, butterbean and tomato soup last week as part of my money saving/pre wedding/pre holiday regime of not buying lunch out, thus saving cash and knowing what’s actually in my lunch.

It was extracted from an ancient issue of Zest magazine and has to be my favourite chunky soup. It is so quick and easy to make and also very low fat but satisfyingly filling. If you prefer a smoother soup, use a blender to purée it to a smooth consistency.

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Tomato and Chilli Chutney

I am psyching myself up for Christmas so brace yourselves for a deluge of edible gift ideas that will be headed this way….. A few years ago I was really strapped for cash right before Christmas so I had to get creative with cheap homemade presents. Everyone was delighted with their homemade biscuits, mincemeat and chutneys so I have been making them every year ever since and will share some of them with you over the coming weeks.

You can make this chutney as mild or hot as you like by adjusting the amount of chillies to suit your taste.

For those who have never ventured into chutney making territory before, cheap preserving jars are available on eBay, at Hobbicraft shops and online and a great UK website for supplies is http://www.nutleyskitchengardens.co.uk/jam-preserve-making/ Size wise I tend to use jars of roughly 180-225ml capacity.

I have a 5lt casserole pot with a heavy copper base which I use for chutney making so if you don’t have a preserving pan a good quaility 4-5lt saucepan/casserole pan will do the trick. Also, be aware your home will smell of vinegar for days afterwards so I suggest opening windows, whacking up the extractor fan to max and not having any washing drying indoors whilst embarking on chutney making! It really is worth all this prep so I hope I have forewarned you rather than put you off!

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Italian Meatballs in Chunky Tomato Sauce

The Hairy Dieters: How to love food and lose weight is one of my favourite cookbooks and their Italian Meatballs in Chunky Tomato Sauce recipe has become a staple in my kitchen now. I cannot recommend the book enough. The meatballs are easy and delicious, freeze well and make a quick low calorie dinner with a small serving of pasta and a big salad.

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