cheesy pea soup – yes, just like The Fast Show

Cheesy pea soup sounds revolting, and what better way to open a blog entry about food than with that line? I know, we’re awful, we took a month off to concentrate on a few things – most notably for me (it’s always me, James, who writes the blog) was half-heartedly walking away from a career in law, only to be tempted back in with the promise of working from home one day a week and condensing all my hours into one day in the office. Well, as someone who likes to sit at home and pick his bum, how could I refuse? It gives me a bit more time to write the cookbook and ogle at our gardener. Speaking of cookbook…

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

It’s been a sad day near Chubby Towers with the passing of one of our neighbours. It’s inevitable, yes, when the average resident took their pension before the Boer War, but still, nobody likes to see a private ambulance trundling into the street early in the morning, do they? Especially when they park in my parking spot, but I didn’t think it was the time to cause a fuss. I’ll send a parking fine later with some white lilies. It did cause a slight moment of discomfiture when I realised I knew the name of the lady who had passed, but not her husband. The only time he’s ever talked to me was to ask me to remove my Vote Jeremy Corbyn sign, which to be fair to him I’d only put up to be mischievous given we live in a sea of Tory voters. You have no idea how much I want to put a pole up and hang a BEAR PRIDE flag up, if only so we get a few confused questions from the less enlightened. There’s one neighbour on the street who I hope to tempt over to the dark side and literally nailing my colours to the mast might just do it. Me going out in stretched hot-pants and wearing a permanently surprised look hasn’t done it yet.

Anyway. Not knowing the name only became an issue when it came to sending a Deepest Sympathy card. How do you address such a sensitive card when you don’t know the name of the recipient – it’s not like I can do my usual name-fudge and pop ‘soz she’s popped off, Chief‘ on the envelope, is it? In the end, after much agonising, I put ‘Sorry for your loss’ on the card (which seems incredibly disingenuous, as though the poor chap has mislaid his car keys or dropped a bank card down the drain) and signed it ‘Love James and Paul’, which I also immediately regretted because it looked piss-taking. Least I didn’t stick a xoxo on there. Sympathy and human emotion is just too much hard work. In retrospect, signing the card in glittery silver Sharpie probably wasn’t the most elegant move either, but look, it’s all I had to hand. I live in a very camp house.

I can’t imagine we’ll be invited to the funeral.

Which frankly, is a shame: I look splendid in black and I’m all for a wake buffet. Hell, we accidentally gatecrashed a wake in Oslo and only realised our error when we were shooed out by some hurly-burly bearded Norwegian whilst we filled our pockets from the koldtbord. Honestly, the grieving can be so touchy. Only been to three funerals in my time. My nana’s was a particular highlight: both Paul and I suffer from nervous laughter and even though I was genuinely distraught, the absurd sight of her coffin right in front of me whilst the entire church lurched through the eight-hundredth verse of All Things Bright And Beautiful really tickled me. Half of the congregation was made up of her equally elderly friends who were all on the last double-digit breaths of their life – I’m surprised we didn’t lose any. Plus, despite being 31 years old at the time, I still guffawed when the lavender crowd burst out in raptures about the purple headed mountain. Me too, loves. The vicar kept getting her name wrong too, which added an air of tension between the sobs – she didn’t even look like a Norman. I bit so much of my cheek that I can stay lying on my front when Paul wants a blowie.

It has got me thinking about what I want when I die. No fancy funeral, big coffin, lots of jewels – none of that. Nope, sell off all my chintz and bibelots, stuff me full of fireworks and pop a pipe cleaner somewhere indecent as a fuse and then push me out to sea. I want people to remember me how I lived – damp, colourful and usually on fire. No fake solemnity, no wailing, no dabbing daintily at your eyes whilst you remember times past. It’s an open invite to you all that, should you read in the paper of me dying in some tawdry fashion (it’s more inevitable than you can imagine), you can all come to the service. Just make sure you stop by Iceland first because fuck me, it’s going to have to be a good buffet.

What might not make it onto the buffet is this cheesy pea soup, which is a bloody shame because considering how quick it was to make, the fact it is syn free and actually tastes bloody good, it doesn’t deserve to be betrayed by the fact it looks like something Grotbags would cough into a handkerchief. Please, give it a go, and if you don’t like it I’ll take a personal responsibility for your loss. Hell, I might even send you a With Sympathies card. Written in silver Sharpie, natch. Snatch.

cheesy pea soup cheesy pea soup

cheesy pea soup - syn free, and tasty, I swear

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 big bowls

There's no way I can make that look appetising and for that, I'm sorry. Unless you like sink trap soup. But it's one of those meals that looks appalling but tastes nice, like moussaka, or Paul. Plus it's low in fat, like moussaka, or unlike Paul.

This does take no time at all to make however, uses only a few ingredients and is just the thing for those summer evenings when you have nothing in and the takeaway menu is just a shade out of reach.

Ingredients

  • one big old lettuce from the shops, or garden, if you please
  • 400g of frozen peas (I used petit pois - not for any culinary reason, but just because I couldn't be arsed to find the proper peas at the back of the freezer)
  • two large cucumbers
  • one large bunch of spring onions
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 80g of extra mature cheddar (two x HEA, but this serves four) (and listen, you can totally get away with adding 160g, I'm just being polite)

Instructions

  • slice your spring onions - including all the green stalk - and gently fry off in a little oil
  • cut the lettuce and cucumber up roughly - it's all getting blended so no need for neatness
  • once the spring onions are softened, add the stock, lettuce, peas and cucumber and boil for about 10 minutes until everything has softened but still stays green
  • carefully blend the soup with a hand blender
  • stir in the grated cheese until everything is thick and tasty
  • serve adorned with cress and cheerful wishes (and a lot of black pepper)

Notes

Courses soup

Cuisine syn-free

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

soupsmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmallbbqsmallonepot 

J

chicken soup for the soul: instant pot or in a pan

Been away, haven’t we? Anyway shut up, nonsense to follow. If you’re here for the chicken soup for the soul, that’s fine, scroll down until you see Willem Dafoe’s cumface. Everyone else, sit back, push out and prepare yourself, because I’ve got a lot to say!

First, a cat update! We’ve been ringing the vets occasionally over the last two weeks to find out how the stray cat we tirelessly and selflessly passed over to another gay is getting on. Good news: they’ve cleaned up his eyes, wiped his bum and found him a new home where he’ll be fussed over and spoiled rotten. The cat’s also doing fine. I did have to affect a genuinely awful accent when I called the vets because I loosely know the woman on reception and couldn’t deal with a guilt trip about rehoming him. We would have – in a heartbeat – only our two cats would have killed him without blinking. They’re hard cats: I’ve seen Bowser fighting a dog before, and Sola sells passable quality gear from her radiator bed. We were reflecting over this and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done when Paul started up with his nonsense about getting a dog. I shut that right down because, although I bloody love dogs, it’s too much of a commitment. With cats you can go on holiday, say, to Canada for five weeks, and as long as you leave their water fountain on, a tin opener within reach and a slab of Whiskas, they’ll be reet. They don’t care. I could die in my sleep tonight and the only concern Sola would show is that she’d have no-one to show her dewy bumhole to first thing in the morning.

We had a proper together-for-twelve-years day out yesterday. We’re not quite at the stage where that involves going to the garden centre and fingering the heathers whilst wishing for each other’s death, thank heavens – besides Paul won’t let me go to the garden centre because it’s right next door to a notorious gay cruising ground and frankly if you’re going to add getting seagulled into your day, you’re better off setting aside a couple of hours. So no, we went to Durham for no other reason than I wanted to go to the fancy tobacconist there and Paul wanted to ogle a bear we know. His was the better suggestion because he was fine (he had every episode of Juliet Bravo on tape!) and the tobacconist had nothing I needed and an unhelpful attitude. Paul, fan of a creaking apophthegm, told me that we’d come all that way for nothing and I could put that in my pipe and smoke it. How we laughed as I practised filling out a form D8 on his back with a rusty compass. We had a couple of drinks in a pub that gave me 60p change from a tenner for two pints and therefore made an enemy for life, then wobbled our way into a Wetherspoons.

Mentioned where we were to a good friend (introducing Paul II) who immediately sent us drinks via the app: I say drinks – he got me a double chambord (excellent choice, because I love insulin chasers) and Paul a glass of milk and a smoothie (he was driving, and Paul II is nothing if not a keen observer of the laws of the land) with some biscuits and crisps. Paul II tried to have Paul I’s milk delivered in a saucer for catty reasons but sadly, Wetherspoons weren’t playing ball.

Let me tell you: Brewdog Punk IPA combined with chambord and banana smoothie is a struggle to keep down, even for me. That app is cracking for mischief and I very much look forward to throwing it open to a group of 80,000 in due course. My liver has already taken a kicking – it’ll look like a pickled walnut by the end. Wandered back to the car, popping out little Chewit-scented burps and chewed-it-scented farts all the way – happened across an argument between a couple across the road. Spent ten minutes ‘tying my shoelaces’ so we could earwig from afar and it was a gloriously tawdry tale of cheating, shouting, adding ‘man’ onto every other word ‘Darren man for fucks man it meant nowt man’ and crying. We had to stop gawping when she clocked me trying to get a surreptitious recording of her grief: I don’t fancy breathing my last in a mist of Exclamation and spittle.

Went for a late dinner in Newcastle and I made the fatal error of saying to Paul he could pick anywhere he fancied. He fancied Chiquitos. I mean Christ, Newcastle has some proper exciting places to eat and he chose the last-resort restaurant of a regional airport. I had forgettable nachos and a beef burrito that celebrated Christmas in 2017. Paul had some jalapeño poppers and a chicken quesadilla that tasted like sandwich spread folded into one of those trays cheap pizza comes on. I ordered myself a honey and rhubarb margarita which tasted like a Strepsil and Paul’s cuba libre was adorned with a piece of palm and three fruit flies. We aren’t ones for complaining because we’re not devoid of all joy but didn’t fancy the desserts, so paid via the wee app thingy so we didn’t have to tip and made a dash for the escape room we were booked in for.

We’re all about escape rooms at the minute and reckon this was probably our 60th room – we’re still terrible at them, but always escape amidst much yelling and fretting. You know who I feel sorry for? The operators watching us on CCTV – we’re competent enough to crack on ourselves but they’re treated to all manner of sinister sights, including my arse-crack pushed up against the CCTV whilst I clit about trying to find clues. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen a 34″ waist pair of Calvin Klein knickers stretched over a 38″ waist. The name band looks like Japanese. Paul is no better – because he has absolutely no arse at all his trousers spend all their time jostling around his knees, meaning his cock and balls tumbling around in his Tesco boxers appear with frightening regularity. We finished the room with nine whole minutes to go and that’s after spending ten minutes furiously arguing over a combination lock, which, for the record, I was absolutely right about. The argument ended when I used my foot to tip him over as he bent to pick up the lock, leaving him rolling on the floor like the gluttonous turtle he is. We celebrated by having our photo taken and then immediately deleted because we look like two hot-water storage tanks, and then, after a brief stop to add more shit to the bottom of my shoes by visiting a Hungry Horse pub for a Stella, we were off to the cinema.

And how’s this for bliss: a cinema to ourselves. I spend all my time whingeing at Paul to come along to see superhero movies and he always says no, because the spinning fights make him queasy and they’re all the same. Please. Yet, in a rare moment of complaisance he readily agreed to come along and see Aquaman yesterday – I can’t imagine why a JASON MOMOA led movie would catch his interest but he certainly seemed more keen than joining me for Spiderman, for example. Actually, Spiderman 3 remains a sticking point in our Paris-car-crash marriage: our first date* involved us seeing that at some pokey Portsmouth cinema. Paul enjoyed it at the time – though it was probably just because he was sat next to the fragrant beau-ideal that is I – but even since has hurled it back in my face as ‘me suggesting bad movies’ whenever I point out my flawless record for choosing films. That’s how I knew we were a couple for life, you know: he shared all of his Revels with me, and not just the shitty raisin ones. Something I forgot yesterday when I almost snapped his fingers as he tried to reach into my £8.96 bag of pick-and-mix to steal a cola-cube: you can fuck right off, mate, you chose ice cream and picked shit flavours so I wouldn’t want to try any. I’m as wise to his games as he thinks he is to mine.

*I’m going to call that our first date, because me noshing him off behind the Spinnaker seems less romantic (he’s the one night stand that never went away!)

Aquaman was absolutely class though. Proper popcorn movie: brilliant action scenes, Patrick Wilson chewing the scenery like me with a vegan sausage roll and a villain who looks like a giant cock blowing things up. Highlights: Australia’s nana Nicole Kidman in a full-on action scene braying the shit out of water meanies. Jason Momoa ensuring I’ll be seeing those eyes whenever I shut my eyes during a “quiet moment of reflection” (I suppose I fell in love with him – like you do!). Fucking Pitbull sampling Rains of Africa during the bit in the movie when they go to Africa. Willem Dafoe in a good-guy role for once instead of being the last-minute turncoat like he always is (Willem Dafriend?) although I argue he’s never acted better than when he was knocking Sandra Bullock about in Speed 2:

Scary how much he looks like Paul’s mother when she finds an unopened 20-deck of unfiltered Rothmans in her boob creases, there. Anyway, final added bonus of the night? Empty cinema means time for shenanigans and I gave Paul a ‘thanks-for-coming’ handjob during the quiet bit in the middle. He seemed pleased (I was just a shag – I knew that!) and we agreed to meet again for the sequel. Came home, and so to bed.

And that’s that! Suppose we’re a recipe blog and I should bang out this chicken soup recipe, eh? Now look here: you can’t make a chicken soup look attractive in photos, you can’t. So don’t judge.

Oh and if you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t shit the bed: you can make it in a pan too. Pleb.

chicken soup

chicken soup for the soul: instant pot or pan!

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 bowls

Yes that's right, just a bog-standard no frills instant pot chicken soup recipe, or use a pan if you're still mastering the basics. We'll cover both. This might look like a bowl of arse but damn it if it doesn't taste good!

This recipe comes from A Saucy Kitchen, and we've adapted it for SW. Take a look at her site though, there's all sorts of tasty shizz on there!

Ingredients

  • two large stalks of celery
  • three carrots of indecent size, sliced
  • one giant onion, sliced and diced
  • two big handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of rosemary
  • 1 cup of wild rice (we buy ours in Tesco) (but feel free to use white rice)
  • 3 big chicken breasts
  • 1200ml of good quality chicken stock (low sodium is better so you're not clutching your arm in fright later)
  • Now honestly, you can add anything into this soup veg wise - don't be frightened

Instructions

Instant Pot

  • press the sauté button, wait for it to heat up and then add a few sprays of olive oil - or if you're sensible, like us, a good glug, and don't count the syns because oil is good for you - add the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook for three minutes until they're softened
  • add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute
  • add the chicken breasts (whole), stock and rice
  • seal the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for five minutes (select Manual and then five minutes) and go pick your bum whilst it does its thing
  • let it depressurise unless you fancy putting a new parting in your hair with the roof tiles from your house
  • lift out the chicken and shred it on a chopping board and tip it all back in
  • let it sit for a few minutes to thicken nicely and then eat!

In a pan:

  • saute the veg
  • add the stock, rice, chicken and everything
  • cook until the chicken is cooked through
  • shred

I mean haway.

Courses soup

Cuisine dunno, something fancy

Want more Instant Pot recipes? No bother cock – fill yer boots:

Enjoy!

JX

spinach, pea and ham thick soup

I’ve tried so hard to make this soup look faintly attractive in the photos, but I can’t. It’s green slop, but it’s so tasty – pea and ham thick soup that looks like something from the sink trap. Anyway, it’ll do the job for days when you want something quick and easy to satisfy your hole and the postman has already been. I say that with an air of familiarity – our postman is delicious. I know it doesn’t do to judge people on looks but goodness me, he has legs I could spin around on and a face that just screams ‘I’ll apologise after’. Here’s me looking forlornly out of the window once he’s passed by.

If you’re a fan of sporadic updates, non-food related shenanigans and overly-saturated photos of bear cubs so past their prime we should be dancing on a rescue advert somewhere, then why not join us on Instagram?

The pea and ham thick soup, then:

pea and ham thick soup

pea and ham thick soup

pea and ham thick soup

1 vote

Print

syn free pea and ham thick soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 bowls

This syn free pea and ham thick soup - there's no way of making it sound attractive - comes straight from Jamie Oliver himself. I know he's divisive but I have a lot of time for him - anyone who can make decent food through such a heavy mist of spittle is a winner in my books. This soup is so easy to make - chuck it in a blender, throw it in a pan, spin it out the window, dance like no-one's watching. Keeps well in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 350g frozen peas
  • 300g frozen chopped spinach
  • 100g ham
  • big handful of fresh mint
  • 300g dried pasta, any old shite will do
  • 50g feta cheese (use your HEA)
  • 1600ml of chicken stock

Instructions

  • chop the spring onions
  • throw the peas, mint, spring onion, ham, frozen spinach and 400ml of chicken stock in a blender and blend the buggery out of it - add a pinch of salt and pepper
  • pour into a pan and add 1200ml of chicken stock
  • smash up your pasta - hit it with a rolling pin - and tip it in - let everything bubble for about twenty minutes until the pasta is cooked
  • serve with the feta crumbled in
  • lots of black pepper and salt, natch

Notes

  • this recipe came from Jamie's book all about his family and their expensive house and wholewheat pasta and Cath Kidson tableware. If you fancy replicating the experience with your B&M saucepans and Charles and Diana pinny, you can order his book from here
  • actually fair play to him, it's a great book - tonnes of recipes easily adapted for SW
  • it won't surprise you but we have a fancy blender that could blend anything, you can get one, or just use a stick blender - you don't need to spend lots of money to do our recipe!
  • we let ours bubble away for a good two hours (accidentally, I fell asleep watching Murder She Wrote) and it was lovely and thick - don't be frightened to cook it for longer!

Courses soup

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Fancy, right? Want some more soup that you could smash your face in? Of course, we’ve got loads that are syn free!

Yum!

J

budget: creamy parsnip and apple soup

Creamy parsnip and apple soup – part of a new category of budget Slimming World recipes that we’re planning on doing. We’ve done a budget week before, you understand, but it became such a ballache having to work out a tenth of a stockcube that we stopped doing it – I know, I’m shameless. But at the time of writing ASDA are selling bags of parsnips for 20p, so you can make this entire pan of soup – which serves six – for less than £1.50. Freezes well, too.


Forgot to say: apologies everyone who received an empty email talking about a risotto – we haven’t published that yet and the email was sent in error – pressed the wrong button. Blame my sausage fingers, it’s why I’ve never mastered the keyboard or wettened an eager beaver. I’m a hamfisted slut! That’ll come online shortly, I’m sure.


Budget is a difficult topic to gauge, to be honest. What is cutting back to me might be eye-watering extravagance to you – what might be penny-pinching to everyone else might be essential to a few of you. Who knows. The reason we’ve decided to reboot this category is simple: I read an excellent article from Jack Monroe, author of cookingonabootstrap, entitled My Ready Meal is None Of Your Fucking Business. She tears apart the whole argument that people can eat ‘well’ on a few pounds a week far more eloquently than I ever could. So I won’t try, but I’ll give you the strongest push to have a read of her blog, especially if you’re struggling for money and need some cheap but decent food ideas. To think, somewhat ashamedly, that my only initial recollection of her was someone who used to vaguely vex me (because she looked like a teacher I disliked) on the Sainsbury’s adverts. Having read up, and realised that as well as everything else she does, she also managed to royally piss off the Daily Mail, well, fair play to her.

Paul and I are lucky – no dependents to fund, no mortgage to pay, plenty of that luscious pink pound to waste on Ritter chocolate and extravagant trips around Lidl. In theory. In reality, we’re both tighter than a photo finish – we hate spending money and will desperately try to avoid doing so unless it’s for a holiday. There’s a certain outdated stereotype that as gay blokes, we should be tripping the light fantastic in decadent clothes, but trust me when I say the most expensive thing in our wardrobe is the dehumidifier. All of our clothes come from the supermarket – I don’t think I’ve ever owned a shirt that hasn’t come from a multipack and poor Paul has been barrelling into work now in shirts that are almost six sizes too big for him. He fell over the other day in the wind and it took five minutes for him to float to the ground like a feather. I park 2.5 miles away from my work and walk in to save the £7 a day parking fee I’d otherwise occur. I like to tell people it’s because I’m trying to get fit but actually, it’s all about the money. The biggest muscle on my body is the thumb I use to keep my wallet shut. I’ve been trying to encourage Paul to allow us to be a ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ sort of household but we had to stop when the entire house started stinking like Sugar Puffs mixed with tuna.

Both of us came from families that didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but neither of us is any worse off for it – I wasn’t one of those spoiled brats who looked enviously at other kids going to Florida for their holidays – I was more than happy piling into the back of my parents’ car for the eight hour drive to the top of Scotland, thank you very much. Even now I can’t relax in a car unless I’ve got a tent peg threatening to burst my eardrum as I drive along. We never stopped at a Little Chef or anywhere fun en route either, no no – it was warm egg sandwiches and sullen faces all the way. Paul didn’t even get to go on holiday bar a trip to Ireland at the height of the troubles and some trip to Spain at the height of teletext-bargains. I’ve just asked him for a ‘poor’ memory and his was going to school with a pair of Activ trainers from Whittlesea Market whilst everyone else had Diadora specials. Pfft. He won’t elaborate further but I bet his Adidas trousers were two-stripe, with the third stripe being formed from his mother’s cigarette ash. Tsk.

There’s two exceptions to our thrift that I can think of: we like expensive aftershave (Tom Ford) and decent shoes. I like to think when I leave a room that I leave a pleasing order and a wonderful footprint, even if I do look like I’ve come dressed for a bet. Cheap shoes are a false economy – Paul struggled the three miles into work one day in a pair of gardening shoes when the entire bottom of his shoe came away, leaving him limping home in the rain like he’d staggered away from an explosion. A good pair of boots will last you forever, but of course, getting the funds together to buy them in the first place…

Anyway, in my usual roundabout way, I want to apologise if our budget recipes aren’t budget enough for you – but please, do feel free to suggest some more to us! Without further delay, let’s crack on with the creamy parsnip and apple soup, shall we? It’s from the Hairy Bikers, you know. Nope, not the first time two hairy bikers have left us satisfied and smiling with a slight pain in our bellies, but here we are. Do enjoy!

parsnip and apple soup

parsnip and apple soup

creamy parsnip and apple soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 bowls

Remember: according to the folks at Slimming World, if you cook fruit, it becomes synned. We don't always agree with this blanket rule and in this case as we've used two apples between six people and haven't made it into an apple pie so we've chosen to not syn it. I know. Mags will put my lights out.

If you want to follow Slimming World's exact advice, this would be about 15 syns - 2.5 syns per bowl - or approximately 2x HeB choices split between six. How silly.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 600g parsnips, peeled and cut into wee chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 600g Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • 150ml milk (3 syns)

Instructions

  • spray a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a bit of oil
  • add the onions and parsnips to the pan and gently fry for about fifteen minutes
    • as an aside - if you want, take your parsnip peelings, spray them with a bit of oil, rub in some curry powder and roast them for a few minutes to crunch them up - you can use these to top the soup!
  • add the garlic and apples to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes
  • pour in the stock and bring to the boil
  • reduce to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes - the parsnips should be soft
  • remove from the heat and blend until smooth
  • add in the milk and give a good stir - add plenty of salt and pepper
  • serve!

Notes

We’ve done some amazing soup recipes! Have a look:

Enjoy!

J

syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry

Syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry tonight, and that’s very fitting indeed because I have to get the blog done, get washed and showered and dressed all before our taxi gets here at 7.30pm. I wish I could say we were off to do something exciting but good lord, we’re going to play bingo in Ashington. If you’re not familiar with Ashington, just picture Aleppo but with more B&M outlets. It’s a safe bet that I’ll be mugged, but all bets are off as to whether it’ll be by the taxi driver, the smokers outside the entrance doors or the old biddies feeding their pensions into the lobby slots. Wish me luck!

Now this syn-free minestrone soup looks like it’ll be a pain in the arse but it’s ridiculously easy, although I’ve taken some liberties with the recipe. The recipe this is cribbed from (Delia Smith) has you sweating vegetables and taking your time. Balls to that: this is soup in a hurry. This makes enough for four big bowls of soup.

syn-free minestrone

Ours looks a bit oily because we didn’t cut the fat off the bacon. Because we’re decadent.

to make syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry, you’ll need:

  • 100g of bacon medallions (see note below)
  • one large onion (see note below)
  • two stalks of celery (see note below)
  • 150g of carrots (peeled) (see note below)
  • 2 large tomatoes, ripe
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • two leeks (see note below)
  • handful of spring greens
  • 75g of pasta (little macaroni is best, but we only add proper size)
  • 1.5 litres of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree

top tips for syn-free minestrone soup:

to make syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry, you should:

  • spritz a heavy-duty pan with oil, heat to medium and chuck your chopped onion, bacon, minced garlic, celery, leek and carrot chunks in on a medium heat with a splash of water – allow to sweat a little
  • add a good pinch of salt and pepper and continue to let them sweat for a good twenty minutes or so, giving it a bit of a stir every now and then so it doesn’t stick
  • add your hot stock, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer gently for a good hour
  • once the hour is done, add the macaroni, spring greens if you’re using, and cook uncovered for another ten minutes or so until the pasta is cooked
  • serve in bowls topped with your healthy extra allowance of Parmesan and lots of black pepper

Easy! Want more soups?

J

super spring greens soup, plus a new video!

Super spring greens soup is all well and good, but let’s be honest, it’s about as exciting as receiving bad medical results in the post. There’s simply no way to make it interesting, so, instead, let me post our latest video. We are messing about with making videos but can’t be fussed making ten-a-penny recipe videos, plus not sure if we can promise you diet recipes when you can see our fat wrists clawing away at the pan handle. There’s a euphemism.

What a catastrophe! Ah I hope you like it. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So, the soup then. We wanted something nice and fresh, despite it being mid-winter. Here’s the thing: sometimes you really do need some vitamins to wash down your endless pasta, mince, cheese, beef…this doesn’t make a smooth soup mind, so if you’re one of those fannies who can’t abide soup that isn’t like drinking gossamer silk, then tough titty. This isn’t a taste explosion, no, but it’s hearty and healthy.

Do you need a soupmaker? You can use one if you like (this is the one we have) but in all honesty, this is a pan and stick blender job. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a stick blender – a tenner will do!

spring greens soup

a

spring greens soup

to make super spring greens soup, you’ll need:

  • one big head of broccoli
  • 200g of spring greens
  • 100g of watercress or spinach if you prefer
  • 750ml of veggie stock, made from bouillon powder preferably, but listen, I’m not arsed
  • lots of black pepper and salt
  • optional, but necessary if you’re a fancy-dan like me: a scattering of pumpkin or sunflower seeds (2 syns-ish)

to make super spring greens soup, you’ll need:

  • if you’re making in a soup maker – get the stock bubbling and then cook the broccoli and spring greens for about fifteen minutes until softened – add the watercress and blitz!
  • if you’re making in a pan, much the same – boil the veg, add the watercress, use a stick blender to blitz until fairly smooth
  • top with lots of black pepper and a pinch of salt
  • serve with your nuts laid on top if you’re using, mahaha!

Want more soup ideas? Who wouldn’t?

Yum! Off to mash another banana now. Someone call A&E!

J

christmas clear out: spicy red pepper and tomato soup

You’re going to think I’m taking the mick with this recipe for spicy red pepper and tomato soup, as it’s literally the laziest recipe you’ll ever make. But here’s the thing – we get asked all the time for truly simple recipes and well, it doesn’t get any easier than this. You’ll find everything you need either in your cupboard or down the supermarket, nothing fancy here! Plus it’s syn free and you don’t need to clart about peeling vegetables or feigning interest in someone else doing it for you.

Let’s get straight to the recipe – remember, this week, we’re away working on an exciting personal project and thus, no blog posts. But rather than leaving you hanging, we’re pumping out a few of our stragglers with hardly any guff at all! Don’t worry, normal service will, of course, resume soon!

to make spicy red pepper and tomato soup you will need:

  • 270g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 100ml water
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes

to make spicy red pepper and tomato soup you should:

After more ideas? We’ve got you covered! We’ve got loads of soups:

Just click one of the buttons below to find more recipes!

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J

creamy chicken and vegetable soup

Creamy chicken and vegetable soup – well, actually, it’s thick enough to almost class as a stew, but you know sometimes you just want a bowl of chicken soup to put hairs on your chest and make yourself feel better? This is that dish. Easy to make, actually tastes decent and rammed full of vegetables to boot. What more could you want? But first, the final part in our Benidorm story – and thank goodness, because boy has this horse been flogged. I’d apologise, but we get plenty of lovely messages from folk who seem to adore our holiday stories, so…if you’re not one of them, click on the shortcut button of the (deep breath) ELDERLY BEWHISKERED CRONE DRESSED IN PEASANT’S CLOTHING WITH A SAGGY OLD ASS to go straight to the recipe. We’ll stay here and not gossip about you, promise.

Pfft. Right one wasn’t she, bet she buys her shoes from the market. Tsk. Right, back to the sun for one final trip…

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three | click here for part four | click here for part five | click here for part six | click here for part seven

Part 8! We didn’t think it would take this long to reach climax, but well, it’s been a long week, and there’s worry at work, and sometimes he’s just not that into you. But hey, here we are. Now, rather than bore you with every tiny detail, I’ll sum up the end of the holiday in three key stages. Enjoy! But before we get started, just a quick video to get you slick in the nethers…

Final night

The final night was a long, drawn-out evening of gentle drinking and gambolling about. Nothing much of note save for the fact that Paul decided he had heartburn – we spent around an hour trying to find somewhere that sold El Gaviscon but it wasn’t to be. Don’t worry readers, he spotted a frozen yoghurt shop and decided that this was essentially the same thing as a glass of cool milk. I wasn’t so sure, but let me tell you how amazingly brave he was, choking back his 500ml of frozen yoghurt covered in brownie bites, caramel, Haribo sweets, marshmallow, flake bits, Rolos and chocolate sauce. It’s funny, his heartburn seemed to just melt away with this concoction. Isn’t he a trooper? Because I’m trying to be good I settled for some passion-fruit flavoured yoghurt that was as lurid as a hangover piss, but surprisingly tasty. Paul, still a bit sore from our bickering earlier in the day, wouldn’t share. I’m sure you can agree he’s a poor sport.

Our final meal was in the Italian Garden (we had given up trying to find a decent ‘local’ restaurant at this point, and our cankles were protesting at the thought of mincing over to the Old Town). Paul chose the place because he wanted some stodgy pasta to weigh down the sugar-bomb in his stomach. I agreed with his choice because the waiter was the spit of Gianno d’Marco from nineties Eastenders, who had been the cause of many a teenage erection back in my formative years. I can’t write anything exciting about the food other to say that the chef must have had an almighty tremor – I ordered an exotic mushroom salad and it was positively floating on balsamic vinegar to the point where it was like looking at a mirage of Paul through the vinegar fumes. Paul had pasta. Paul always has pasta and then complains he’s too full and can’t walk. Ten years together and he’s never left a meal without clutching at his belly and/or chest and graphically telling me how quickly he expects to see his dinner again. You can’t buy that sort of class, can you? We paid up, me personally thanking the waiter – he thought I’d left a massive tip but I had to explain that my phone number. He’s never called. Bastard.

Lockdown

Anyway, poor Paul did have to waddle because we were straight over to Lockdown, Benidorm’s Premier Escape Room. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely sure there’s hundred of rooms in Benidorm where desperate young men and women fight to escape before the hour is up, but that’s the consequences of cheap drinks and easy living. We turned up fashionably early which led to us having to wait in the lobby. That would have been fine but we thought we had it to ourselves and were merrily shrieking and clarting about when some poor chap popped his head up from behind the counter where he’d been fiddling with the computer. Ah well. He introduced us into the room – it took us both a while to tear ourselves away from his delicate facial hair and big kind eyes – and left us to it.

The room was Cold War themed, with the curious task of defusing a nuclear bomb thrown in for good measure. It was brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! No point in giving you any spoilers but it was possibly the most interactive one we’ve done so far – tonnes of hidden secrets, attention to detail and hell, even a chance to dress up. What more could a lad want? Whenever we were stuck the phone would ring – we were supposed to reply with a codeword when he spoke but I was lost in a moment and asked ‘what was he wearing’. Paul took the phone and steered us to victory!

I say this each and every time – if you have never done an escape room, get one booked! They’re a great way to spend an hour and as they get more and more popular, the standards keep climbing. Do it!

With that done, we walked back to the hotel, took a drink up to the room and watched the streets hustle and bustle below. It was a great end to the holiday that we thought we’d never want to begin.

Return

Our flight back to Newcastle was at the altogether unseemly hour of 8.30am, which meant having to get up at around 4am to allow enough time to shave, shit, shower, get to the airport, learn how to fly and stand in for the pilot. I can’t deal with 4am: I look like I died four days previously and someone’s just pulled me out of the morgue. I may have told the receptionist who rang me at 3.50am with a wake-up call to fuck right off in my sleep-addled state. I later apologised. I can’t rely on Paul to get us up – he’s constantly saying ‘ten more minutes’ and going straight back to sleep. Our house could be a raging inferno and he’d still be lying in bed telling the firemen he can’t get up until he’d done his ‘stretches’. Pfft. The only thing belonging to Paul that stretches in the morning is his arsehole, and that’s only to release eight hours of shitgas that’s been building up through the night. I’m thinking about seeing if he can have a pilot light fitted on his taint – I can’t remember the last time I woke up not dry-heaving into my pillow.

Regardless, we were out of the hotel in enough time to sit and wait for our ‘private transfer’ back to the airport, which turned up late and in the sort of car you see rotting in fields near illegal caravan parks. We climbed in – gingerly, we didn’t want to disturb his rust collection – and he shot off like we were slingshotting round the moon. Three minutes later we stopped to let in a lovely couple from a less salubrious hotel and I’m going to tell you something now – if you’re a smoker and you’re one of those people who save half your cigarette in your packet for later – you need to know that you absolutely honk. There’s no two ways about it – I can smile politely through most things, but that smell, no way. Especially when you’re hacking away spreading it all around the taxi like a cloud of rancidness.

That was the least of my concerns, anyway – the driver, clearly just passed his test with the Henri Paul School of Motoring, drove us to that airport as though his life depending on us getting there before the sun came up. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a fast driver and clearly he wanted to get us to the airport, but at the same time, I’d prefer not to fly home scraped into a strawberry jam pot. Twice I genuinely thought we were about to crash – first he overtook another speeding taxi with about four inches to spare, then he wandered across two lanes of traffic and the hard shoulder whilst he fiddled about with his phone, presumably trying to work out the necessary mph for take-off. I snuck a glance at Paul who was absolutely ashen-faced and then resumed the task of clinging onto the back-seat using the full suction of my own sphincter. I saw death that warm Spanish dawn, and he wears a soiled Benidorm or Bust t-shirt. We gave him a tip (“slow the fuck down!” – hello?) and cleared the area before our taxi companion had a chance to light up the remnant of her stinking tab.

What is there left to say? Our flight back was entirely uneventful – clearly the Spanish sun had calmed the lungs of most of the passengers as, unlike the flight in, it was relatively free of phlegmy coughing. One thing: do Ryanair switch the seatbelt sign on more often than other flights? I was bursting for a piss but every time I stood up for the bog, on came the light – felt like I was doing the hokey-cokey with my bladder. Either they were desperate to clear the aisle to make sure they could peddle their chotchkies and scratchcards or the pilot was a bastard, because that flight was as smooth as a vaselined otter. We landed in a sea of grey clouds and disembarked to a mist of blue smoke as the brethren of the blackened lung lit up, completely ignoring the no-smoking rules. Cases retrieved we made our way home and that’s it, readers – Benidorm done. Are you relieved? Have we left you satisfied and smiling? We always do.

Thoughts

I’m holding my hands up. As I touched upon in part one, we could not have been more wrong about Benidorm. We thought we’d absolutely hate it – that it would be full of rough people shouting incoherently and rustling in their shellsuits. Don’t get me wrong: it was, but by god it was a fun holiday. Doesn’t matter how late we were out or how spit-and-sawdust the pubs we were in, everyone has having a good time, there was no bother, no trouble. The only continuous loud noise I can remember was one of laughter. You don’t go to Benidorm to stroke your chinny-chin-chin at the museums and have yourself an egg-white omelette as you jill yourself off over the Observer, you go for a drink and the company. You’re not going to get Michelin food – hell, you’re hard pushed to find anything you wouldn’t find in the reduced bin at Farmfoods for the most part – but sometimes you need a bit of junk stodge food to fill your hole. There’s lovely parts that we left unexplored – we can always go back, and if we don’t, I’m sure there’ll be a Channel 5 shockumentary on it soon enough. Our trip to Guadalest provided a bit of proper Spain and with the addition of a hire car, we could have seen so much more. Don’t let this blog put you off going – we deliberately did the ‘Benidorm’ experience!

Would I recommend it as a holiday? If you’ve got no airs and graces – definitely. If you’re as common as muck but you consider yourself fancy because you buy name-brand baked beans and aren’t paying off your TV in weekly instalments, then also recommend. If you’re a genuine snob then nah, probably not. It is, after all, a resort where someone has made a career popping things out of her muff.

Still, if that’s good enough for Kate Middleton…


Please remember to leave feedback on the holiday entries: we crave your attention!


Let’s do this thick chicken and vegetable soup, then. You can leave out the pasta if you like, it makes it super-thick, but really boosts the meal. The recipe we based this on is here! Please don’t be put off by the look of this, it tastes grand!


chicken and vegetable soup

to make creamy chicken and vegetable soup, you’ll need:

  • four big handfuls of shredded/chopped chicken – use leftovers from a roast, or follow our recipe here to slow cook / Instant pot it
  • two cloves of garlic, minced (save your fingers with one of these)
  • two large chopped onions
  • one large green pepper
  • one large red pepper
  • 1 stick of celery
  • one large leek
  • two large carrots cut into thin matchsticks, or sliced thinly
  • 1.25l of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of hot sauce (google it, you can buy it in any supermarket, or leave it out)
  • half a teaspoon of dark soy sauce
  • one big bag of spinach
  • a couple of ‘nests’ of dried egg noodles
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2xHEA)

Damn, this is simple – add whatever veg you want, change it out, do what you like! Also, if you’re planning on stocking up on chicken, don’t forget you can build your own hampers with Musclefood now – so many chicken deals, just look!

to make creamy chicken and vegetable soup, you should:

  • super easy – prepare all of your vegetables (bar the spinach) by chopping them nice and small and chuck them in a big pan with some spray olive oil and sweat everything down until softened with the garlic
  • chuck in the soy sauce, hot sauce and stock and simmer for a good forty minutes until the vegetables are soft, I went for thirty minutes
  • add the spinach and pop the lid back on until everything has wilted down – then add the chicken and noodles (break them up a bit) and heat through until the noodles are softened
  • before serving, stir the Philadelphia in – make sure you stir it until it has completely absorbed into the sauce, then serve!

How easy. JUST LIKE YOU! Want more recipes?

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Cheers!

J

curried pumpkin soup with toasted seeds

Curried pumpkin soup with toasted seeds – just in time for Hallowe’en. I wasn’t going to do a blog entry tonight, but see, Paul turned to me yesterday, in the seventh hour of our Stranger Things 2 binge (it’s brilliant, have no fear), and confessed that he’d never had a proper pumpkin. It then hit me – nor have I! My mother used to send us out the door in the most highly-flammable sheet she could find, carrying a sooty turnip in one hand and a Netto carrier bag in the other for trick or treating. We were told to hand back any Skittles or chocolate we were given and to ask for a twenty-deck of Lambert and Butler and a crate of Red Stripe. Good times.

Anyway, being a kind and merciful sort, I agreed that we ought to get a pumpkin and carve it – and here’s the final result. You’ll note that I’ve added a sensitivity filter for the easily offended:

Great, isn’t it? I love Scunthorpe so much I made a pumpkin in tribute. Cheers Will. And look guys, you mustn’t worry, we’re not going to put this on display when kids come to the door to terrorise us. We’ll be doing the very British thing of turning up Coronation Street and telling them to bugger off. I wouldn’t mind if they made an effort with the costumes, but when you’ve got someone turning up who looks as though he’s just finished a three year BTEC in bricklaying demanding chocolate, well, that crosses the line. Actually, who am I kidding, if that sort turned up, he’d definitely be allowed to put the willies up us.

Speaking of cheap thrills, we also went to see Jigsaw on Friday night. How was it? As good as you’d expect the eighth film in a gore franchise to be, and then a wee bit better. Perfect popcorn fodder. But you know what was the best bit? We had the entire cinema to ourselves – not another soul came in to watch people being eviscerated on a 60ft screen. Pussies. There’s lots of benefits to having the cinema to yourselves – no people using their phones on nuclear holocaust levels of brightness, no people rustling around in bags for the loudest possible sweets they can find, no having to theatrically sigh and huff when the people in front of you so much as move. When we’re millionaires we shall buy a cinema, install two seats and employ only two people: one to bring us drinks and another to wake Paul when he inevitably falls asleep. I’m sure if we were younger men we would have used the solitude for a bit of illicit hanky-panky but I mean, we’ve been together ten years now – our idea of adventure is cracking open the After Eight mints at half seven.

Being the only ones in the cinema does rather shed a spotlight on your companion’s foibles, mind. Paul was breathing so loudly through his noise that it was only the popcorn bucket staying still on his lap that assured me he wasn’t wanking. Plus, every scene was punctuated with him scratting about in the popcorn in the vain hope of finding anything edible, as opposed to the shavings of fire-retardant foam that they’d put in there. Seriously, I think they’d kept the popcorn aside from the first Saw movie. I’m sure if we flipped this he’d complain about me constantly farting (how often can you fart in a cinema without having to wait for a loud action part to mask the sound?) and nudging him to say ‘he’s the killer, it’s him, definitely him, no it’s her, no it’s him, no look it’s all taking place in the past, no look, it’s her again‘. Going to the cinema with me is like when you accidentally flip the Audio Description settings on when watching TV, only with more ‘Where do we know him from? Is it 24? Paul? Was he in 24? Remember?’. I imagine by the end of it we were both silently wondering whether we could get away with putting the other into a Saw style trap. I wouldn’t need to make much effort – Paul’s idea of torture is to be sat on the settee with the TV remote just out of reach. You’ve never seen such pained eyes, trust me. But shush, this was meant to be a quick entry, so let’s get back to the food.

So, once one has gutted a pumpkin, what do you do with the flesh? It’s very easy, you call Paul in to cut it up and make it into soup whilst you fart about on Mario Odyssey. I’m glad, I can’t bear wasting food – I get anxious when Paul throws out his toenails – and all that lovely pumpkin should be turned into something half decent. So here you have it, a bonus pumpkin soup recipe!

to make curried pumpkin soup you will need:

  • 1 pumpkin, as big as you dare (cut in half and scoop out the seeds and the flesh – keep the seeds to toast (see below))
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (save your fingers with one of these! It’ll work with the ginger too!)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¾ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp clove powder
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 125ml light coconut milk (5½ syns)
  • dollop of fat-free greek yoghurt

to make toasted pumpkin seeds you should:

  • preheat the oven to 150°c
  • separate the seeds from the fleshy bits and give a good rinse in a colander, then shake dry
  • spray the seeds with a little oil and a load ofand spread out onto a baking sheet
  • cook in the oven for about 45 minutes

All in, less than 1.5 syns. You’re allowed 20g of seeds for a healthy extra but hey, a few won’t harm…or will it?

to make curried pumpkin soup you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • spray the fleshy bits with a little oil and give it a good rub (an oil sprayer is perfect for this recipe – get the one we recommend most!)
  • place each half onto a baking sheet, fleshy side down and roast for 45 minutes
  • leave to cool for a few minutes, and then scoop out the flesh and set aside
  • next, heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a little oil
  • add the onion to the pan and give a good stir, cook for a few minutes until it starts to go slightly brown
  • next, add the ginger and garlic to the pan and stir
  • cook for 1-2 minutes
  • add the curry powder, coriander, cumin and clove powder to the pan and give another good stir
  • add the stock and the coconut milk and bring to the boil
  • remove the pan from the heat and add the pumpkin flesh to the pan
  • use a stick blender (or a proper blender if you’re fancy) until the mixture is nice and smooth
  • put back over a medium-high heat and bring to a simmer to warm through
  • serve in bowls with a dollop of greek yoghurt, and sprinkle over some toasted pumpkin seeds

Leftover coconut milk? Make carrot and coconut soup, or pea and coconut soup. It’s that easy!

Got you going yet? Don’t worry – we’ve got plenty more! Just click one of the buttons below!

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J

velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – instant pot or hob

Velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – because frankly, it’s Autumn, and clitting about with consommés and gazpachos can fuck right off. You want a soup that’ll put hairs on that big old chest of yours and get stuck when you strain it through your Kevin Webster moustache. So here we are. Sorry for the lack of posts but well, you can probably guess that we’ve been away. Anyway, before we get to the fabulous leek, potato and cheddar soup, you’ve got the next part of our trip to Benidorm to smile politely through. If you can’t be arsed with reading all them big words, don’t fret, just click on the handy shortcut button below to be whisked straight to the pictures. Yes: just click on the mirror below.

Phew. We’d all had enough of her cockadoodie attitude, am I right? Let’s go back to a sunnier time…

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three | click here for part four

You know, rather than prattle on about the last two days of the holiday, and bore you to tears with a 300 word monologue about the different types of toast we have, I’m going to do what we did with the Cornwall entries (good God the horror) and recount the memorable bits rather than go at it chronologically. I know what you’re thinking: James, you’re fabulous. Assume that the bits in between were taken up with us swimming in the pool, crisping in the sun or dozing.

Whenever we mentioned online that we were going to Facebook we were met with two things: aghast responses and ‘GO TO THE OLD TOWN’. I harboured a strong hope that the Old Town was actually Barcelona but no, apparently it’s the ‘nice part’ of Benidorm, in much the same way that the Isle of Arran is the nice part of Glasgow. Ah I jest, Glasgow, we love you and would move there in a barely-detectable heartbeat. So, hunger thoroughly satiated by way of the breakfast buffet (room 2002, two-thousand-and-two, dos-mil-y-dos, aaaah for fucks sake) and our hackles risen by the sight of our doubles mincing about the yoghurt station, we set off with the faint aim of walking to the Old Town, taking in what we could during the day.

Oh! Before I get there, can I quickly discuss this?

A lift that judges you.

The lift had a bastard ‘FAT PERSON’ monitor on it. When the two of us got in it went straight to cock-level, which sounds about right for us, until you realise the lift was built for ten people. I mean, we’re fat, but not quite that bad. I think if we had risked it after a particularly bountiful breakfast it may have started shrieking “¡ayudameMis cables!” in hysterical robotic tones. Anyway, the day was young.

It began with a crushing disappointment. We had seen no end of elderly couples whizzing around on double-seater mobility scooters, looking to all the world like particularly gelatinous takes on the future humans from Wall-E (only with far more fag-scorched winceyette). We wanted in on the action, if only because it would have made for an hilarious video of the two of us careering through the streets like the tank chase from Goldeneye. Completely unashamed we wandered into the first mobility scooter hire place and started trying out the various models. All good fun until some harried little Spanish lady came hurtling from out the back and started shouting at us in Spanish. I tried to placate her that, even though I’m hilariously obese, I’m not the easily forty stone or more that I’d seen the mobility scooters having to shuttle around outside. She has having none of it – apparently you need to be registered disabled (fair enough) or old (see previous comment) to hire a scooter. I caught a glance of Paul’s haggard face in the rear-view mirror of the Leviathan-shuttle nearest to me and wondered whether we could pass him off as over 55. Gloria Estefan wouldn’t have accepted it though, so we slunk away.

We carried on walking, dropping into the odd shop on the way. One thing I can’t understand is how all of the tatty shops selling cheap towels, tatty ornaments and fridge magnets and t-shirts with ‘I LOVE COK’ and ‘YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO ENJOY BENIDORM BUT IT HELPS’ and other shite manage to keep going. There are hundreds of the buggers – probably one for each family that landed. Surely there can’t be a demand for it? I’d like to live in a world where there wasn’t demand for one of these shops, let alone a whole neighbourhood of them. But nevermind. We nipped into the cheap cigarettes store just to see how much baccy costs now – nothing confirms your decision not to smoke like seeing the fact that you’re spending more on tobacco than you do for a good dinner. Plus catching the yellowing eyes of the walking dead shuffling around buying their Lambert and Butlers, coughing out lung mist all the while. This was clearly ground zero for the coughing plague that would accompany us on the plane home. We did have a titter at the fact that the 200 Lambert and Butlers came with a free bottle of Jägermeister sellotaped to the front. Hey, know your market. Listen, we’re not being snobby about smoking – we once had a drawer in the kitchen that was full of tobacco and Rizlas, that’s how dedicated we were – but if you’re going to smoke, try something with a bit of taste. You never know, the Marlboro Reds probably came with a well-aged Châteauneuf-du-Pape attached. I tried taking a picture of the fags but got roundly reprimanded (again!) by the lady behind the till, who shouted ‘NO PHOTOS’ with such ferocity you’d think she was guarding the nuclear codes as opposed to a cancer factory. Pfft. We left empty-handed, but at least able to move more than twenty yards without our lips turning blue.

Fags.

Just round the corner from the cheap fag shops was a cheery little minigolf course. Five euros for eighteen holes – you can’t get vexed at those prices, can you? I confess we only went in because it looked as though there was a gay bears convention behind us in the queue, and hell, if there’s one thing we both enjoy it’s having several bearded men lining up behind us all desperate to sink their balls into an easy hole.

Oh I know, we’re so nasty. But seriously, they looked like they’d all just finished lumberjacking and fighting oil-rig fires. I could barely bend to pick up my ball without poking out my own eye.

As usual, things between Paul and I became immediately competitive – whereas I’ll always beat him at pool, Monopoly and growing a beard (he doesn’t so much grow a beard as frighten it away), he nearly always wins at minigolf. I just don’t have the patience, I hate golf. It’s so tedious and arbitrary and pointless. At least with rugby you run the risk of being accidentally penetrated in an especially violent scrum. With golf what’s the most exciting thing that can happen? Someone with pipe-cleaner legs, clad in whatever shite was heavily discounted at the garden centre, comes and primly tells you off for not wearing the right shoes? Pfft. I’m yet to meet anyone who has been seriously into golf who I haven’t suspected of being on some sort of register. Maybe I’m jaundiced because we have a golf course at the end of our street and I’m forever having to dodge Audis and BMWs piloted by triple-chinned moonface fuckheads not concentrating on their driving because they’re too busy thinking about their stroke / hypnotised by the rancid pattern on their trousers.

Action shot! I can’t recall the balls being quite so ovoid, though.

Anyway, I digress (if I ever become rich and famous and in need of an autobiography, that’ll be the title – and the book will open with me being born and then 1000 pages of bitchy comments about the hospital canteen and Paul’s mother). The mini-golf course was actually good fun – very much a file under ‘god bless, they tried’ sort of affair, but good fun none the less. Paul struggled with a tricky shot through a windmill which almost gave me a victory but I was distracted on the eighteenth hole by the sight of one of the bearded gentlemen bent over to tie his shoes and that was it for the day. Paul cruised to an easy victory and made sure I knew it. Personally, I thought it was a little churlish of him to gloat – it’s hard to concentrate on your stroke when you’re desperately trying to engineer a situation where you could feasibly fall over and expose your rear like a cat on heat. As we left Paul noticed a mechanical bull and asked if we should have a go. Fearful of the hydraulics wheezing asthmatically and then enveloping us in thick blue smoke, I declined. I bought us both a knock-off Spanish Magnum instead and we moved on.

Someone has to do it, I suppose.

We stopped briefly at an Ale-Hop shop (very much like a Tiger, if not a Tiger under a different name) where I desperately tried to find a hat to find my giant head. It’s my eternal struggle and one I’m yet to beat. I’m a reasonable looking bloke, I think, but I have a head like the Bloaty Head patients from Theme Hospital. Every hat I try on is always about four inches too small, sitting on top my balding expanse like a fey little affectation rather than the sun protection I so desperately need. When I was much younger I found a natty little Kangol bucket hat in a hedge that fitted perfectly – no idea where it came from (although it did have J. Merrick scrawled on the inside) but by god it saw me through so many summers, until one fateful day when it blew off my head into the English Channel. I like to think it served its purpose and moved on to rescue some other elephantine-bonced poor bastard. Mind you, for as much as I struggled to find a hat…

…Paul was suffering more trying to find a bra to protect his poor heaving busoms.

Poor guy. He’s a busty double-D, if anyone has one spare they can pass to him.

Right, here’s the thing. As usual, I started out with good intentions about keeping it succinct but I’ve actually managed to hit the 3000 word mark. I’ve cut that out for the next two posts but hey, let’s get to the recipe. I appreciate I can’t keep your attention for too long, what with all the shiny things in the world to look at. Until next time…

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This soup, then. You don’t need an Instant Pot to make it, you absolutely don’t, but it’ll make it so much quicker if you have one. Before you ask, yes, you probably could do it in a soupmaker too, though I’d have reservations about adding cheddar in case it sticks to the bottom. Your choice. The Instant Pot is currently pretty cheap on Amazon, mind you. This makes easily enough for six people.



to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you will need:

  • 3 leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme (or two sprigs of fresh if you’re fancy)
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml light white wine (4½ syns)
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
  • 40g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1x HeA)
  • 2 bacon medallions (optional, just if you’re feeling SUPER fancy)

Look, if you can’t find light white wine, just use any old slop you have kicking about. Use mouthwash for all I care. I’m not your boss!

Broghie

Wondering what on Earth that broghie thing is? Hard to describe! But it’s just the thing for dipping and adding crunch – like a prawn cracker in consistency only without the oil and fat and fishiness that comes with it. We’re using them a lot for satisfying the crunch that we miss from bread – and they’re only a syn each. You’ll see them in a few of our recipes because we’re well stocked up – bigger Iceland stores sell them, and they’re popular in Ireland – just like I wish we were! We’re not getting paid to promote them, just something that I saw on Facebook and wanted!

to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you should:

  • wash and finely slice the leeks – if you’re not too clumsy, get one of these and do it in seconds!
  • press the ‘saute’ button on the instant pot and add a bit of oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and stir regularly until softened
  • add the garlic, stir and cook for another 30 seconds
  • turn off the instant pot and add the thyme, oregano, bay, wine and potatoes to the pan
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 1.25l of boiling water and add to the pan
  • give a really good stir, then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes
  • meanwhile, cook the bacon until it’s super crispy and chop up into little bits
  • when it’s finished, use quick release and stir in the philadelphia and cheese
  • use a stick blender to blend the mix until it’s smooth
  • serve in bowls and sprinkle over some of the bacon bits

If you haven’t got an instant pot don’t fret – you can do this on the hob just as easily. Chuck the leeks into a giant pan until soft, add everything else (except the cheese), bring to the boil and them simmer until tender, add the cheese then blend with a stick blender. Simple!

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

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Goodnight for now! Remember to hit the share buttons below if you’ve enjoyed the recipe!

J