Soup making has become a bit of a thing of mine over the last few months. This foodstuff has been a saving grace in my diet, and it allows me to cook my 'special' meals easily and cheaply.

This one has become a bit of a favourite, it's so refreshing and tasty. I even have it for breakfast and it has to be noted that it's a pretty decent hangover cure, too. 

Now, pancetta may sound a bit posh but it's not really. This is the closest bacon like substance you can get in Italy, and it's such a common meat that we buy ours in Lidls... we stock up when it's on special offer and there's always a pack in the freezer. If at home in the UK I'd use streaky bacon instead, probably smoked.

On the stock front, I've taken to making my own from leftover veggie ends and the remains of the chicken carcass after a sunday roast. I stopped using most cheap stock cubes because they contained wheat and/or yeast, and they're both on my no-can-do list. When it comes to buying stock powder, the best is Marigold Bouillon which ticks all the right boxes and is pretty tasty too. It costs a bit more but it's worth it, and it comes in low salt and organic varieties too.



half a bulb of fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
2 x 100g packs of pancetta (frozen), chopped
3 large leeks (approx 700g), sliced 
40g butter
500ml stock
500ml water
pinch of thyme; fresh is better but dried will do
salt to taste 

Preparation time: about 10 - 15 minutes; cooking time: about 30 - 40 minutes.

How to:
Melt the butter in a 5litre pan and sauté the pancetta and garlic. If the pancetta is frozen give it a few minutes before adding the garlic - pancetta is often very thinly sliced and cooks up quickly. If you've got the cubed stuff then that will need extra time.

Once these are both soft add the leaks then thyme, then cook them all together until slightly golden.

Add the stock and the water and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 to 30 mins. Add salt to taste. 

This makes approximately 3litres of soup, equivalent to 6 x 500ml servings. Or if you're me, it lasts a day.

And there you have it. It's very simple! Sometimes I change the order of the frying of the ingredients, but the key is not let the garlic burn. The leaks and pancetta taste better in my opinion of they are fried before adding the stock, but they'll cook just fine if they go straight into the stock.

You could easily sub the butter with olive oil should you prefer dairy free, but I have to say I do rather like the taste of things cooked in butter; fat content isn't a huge issue for me but it is for a lot of folks.

I'm no expert cook but I'm enjoying experimenting with these soups, and hope to get a few more up in the coming months. If you do use this recipe, and especially if you change it up a little, I'd love to hear how you get on in the comments :)

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesRecipes, Soups

I'm no cook, not really. Tom does much of the cooking around here (and baking. Oh how he loves baking!) so I'm not about to turn this space into a food blog. Yet I thought it might be fun to share some of our favourite recipes, especially as there's so much behind the scenes knitting & book stuff going on. This first one, Garlic Spaghetti, is my meal of choice nearly every single time.


Fresh garlic
Dried spaghetti
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Onions (optional)

Preparation & cooking time: about 15 - 20 minutes.

As a general rule, we use about 2/3 of a 500g packet of spaghetti between the 3 of us, 2 adults + 1 child, roughly 333g (500g being the standard European sized pack) With that amount of spaghetti, we use at least one bulb of garlic. You'd want enough olive oil to shallow fry the garlic. This is very much a play it by ear recipe, and adjusting the quantities to suit different needs is super easy. Feel free to add even more garlic; don't be shy with it.

How to:

Put on a large pan of water, enough to cover the spaghetti. As that slowly comes to the boil, coursely chop the garlic - it can be as fine or as chunky as you like. Onions can add a nice taste & texture to the mix, and they would be better finely chopped.

As the water comes to the boil, add the spaghetti. You'll have your own way of cooking this stuff, so go with that - I don't need to tell you how to cook your spag! You'll want to heat a frying pan with the olive oil at the same time as you add the spaghetti, or just before. The oil doesn't want to be spitting when you add the garlic, you want to prevent it cooking too quickly and burning.

Slowly shallow fry the garlic and onions, and when they start to brown, turn off the heat. The spaghetti should be ready about the same time, so remove that from the heat and strain. Return spaghetti to the pan and pour in the oil & garlic mixture and blend. If either have cooled in the process, return the mix to the heat until warmed through.

For serving, grate some parmesan on top and maybe add a pinch of rocket if you fancy. A dribble of olive oil is also lovely, with a dash of salt. And voila! It really is this simple and thoroughly tasty!

We're lovers of one pot meals and simple cooking, so I'll try and get it together to share some more in future. Enjoy!

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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