A golden touch from the food market in Dalston

EVERY WEEK I take £5 to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe.

As usual, expenditure on any extra ingredients, eg, a litre of oil, will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be tasty. All will be vegetarian.

This week’s £5 basket, below

2 large leeks £1

4 sweet potatoes £1

1 swede 70p

4 carrots 50p

9 bananas 50p

Satsuma £1. Too many to count

Total £4.70


Equipment: kitchen knife, paring knife, 3-litre lidded saucepan. Wash all vegetables well.

Golden vegetable soup,  serves 2 with enough to freeze for later in the week.

Soups are at their best the next day when all the flavours have permeated the water. When reheating a soup, never let it boil, because that causes the flavours to be lost. But it should be hot. Remember, a boiled soup is a spoilt soup.

Preparation: 30 minutes, cooking: 1 hour

Ingredients: 1 leek. I took the smaller of the two leeks pictured in my basket, cut off the roots and 3cm from the top of the leek and removed its outer layer. Then I sliced the leek lengthways and cut each into 2cm pieces. I rewashed the leek. It’s surprising how much dirt lurks in those green leaves.

1 swede, the top removed, peeled and cut into just bite-size chunks.

4 carrots, tops removed, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks.

2 sweet potatoes, topped and tailed, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks.

1 butternut squash, from last week’s basket, top removed, peeled and cut in half. Remove all the seeds and cut into bite-size chunks.

Herbs of choice. I am using 2 bay leaves and 2 sprigs of rosemary. Thyme or oregano would also work.

To give this soup some depth, I am adding 2 teaspoons of a vegetable bouillon and a chunk of grated creamed coconut. Creamed coconut is available in most supermarkets and independent shops. A packet lasts a long time and creamed coconut can be grated into curries, rice and other soups.


1tablespoon oil

2 litres water or kept vegetable cooking water.

Optional extra:I found an old potato hiding in my vegetable basket, so I peeled and chopped it into bite-size pieces and added it to the soup mix.



Heat the oil in the saucepan and add the leeks and sweat for 10 minutes over a gentle heat. They should turn soft yet not burn. Put all the other vegetables in the saucepan and let them sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add the water, bay leaves, rosemary, bouillon, grated creamed coconut and seasoning. Taste before adding salt the bouillon could be salty.

Bring to the boil and cook steadily (you see a gentle bubble) for 35 to 45 minutes over a medium heat, with the lid on the saucepan, until all the vegetables are soft but holding their shape and the soup has a lovely golden colour from the bouillon.

If this soup is left for 24 hours, the creamed coconut forms a crust over the top. On reheating, this will dissolve.

The remaining items in this week’s basket are a leek, 2 sweet potatoes and the fruit. The fruit will be eaten as it is during the week, the sweet potatoes roasted for a side dish and the leek used in an au gratin with mustard.

Tip: the reason I often say “serves 2 — and some to freeze for later ” is that it is always good to have something ready if friends drop in unexpectedly and there is a dish that can be heated up quickly so there is time to chat or, if working late and too tired to prepare a meal there is a wholesome reviving dish made earlier that can be cooking while one takes a relaxing bath.

Tip: If you can double your spend in Ridley Road Market today, or Hoxton market tomorrow Sat 20 Oct 2012, you could bag a free tote designed by locals Atalanta Weller or Dalstoner Simone Rocha as part of this Hackney council-organised scheme. Participating stalls will be showing a Love Hackney, Shop Local sign.

© david.altheer@gmail.com

* Previous articles hyperlinked:

Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012

Vegetable curry 5 October 2012

Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012

Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012

Bubble and squeak Shooey style and Bakewell pudding 14 September 2012

Coleslaw and radishes the Italian way  7 September 2012

Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012;

Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012;

Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012;

A dish to make from a fiver in the market: the column launched 15 August 2012

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