- Food & Drink
This year we celebrated Christmas on the 19th December. Sister Number 1 alternates her Christmases: one year with us, one year at her girlfriend’s parents in Scotland. 2015 was a Scottish year, so we decided we’d do the whole thing one week early. The full festive shebang.
It’s strange, doing Christmas before everyone else. Even though we knew it wasn’t ‘Christmas Christmas’, it still felt like Christmas. We were surprised when the postman turned up with Christmas cards. And the shops were open. They shouldn’t be open on Christmas.
We were living in two time zones. One was decked with holly and replete with plum pudding, the other was an ordinary Saturday. In our paper hats and with our turkey dinners, we were cut off from that one. We could see people being normal and doing normal things, but we were all glitter.
The upside to celebrating Christmas early is that the festive feasting period has been stretched out to three weeks. We may actually eat all the biscuits and Christmas tree chocolates before the 1st January for once. And the fridge is clear of leftovers on the 27th December. We’ve made our way through every last cold roast potato and slice of poultry.
The last thing to use up was a chunk of ham. Mum always makes a ham: it’s the highlight of Christmas. This year she went for a gammon cooked in cola, then glazed and baked with cloves. We ate it with the roast, and in sandwiches. But there was a chunk left under the cling film, getting worryingly dry in the fridge. So I souped it. Soup is the solution to all leftovers.
Ham & Butter Bean Soup
1 large celery stick
1 bay leaf
Olive oil, for frying
A chunk of baked ham (mine was the size of my two fists)
400g tin of butter beans
1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 Trim the very tops and bottoms off the leeks. Halve them and rinse out any dirt. Finely slice them. Trim and slice the celery.
2 Warm a largish pan over a medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil, the leeks and celery. Chuck in a bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Cover, turn the heat down and sweat the veg for around 10 mins till they’re soft.
3 While the veg sweat, roughly chop the ham into chunks (fish out any cloves that are hidden in the fat). Drain and rinse the butter beans. Stir them both into the veg. Pour in the hot stock. Stick the lid back on, turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
4 Once the soup has started to bubble, turn the heat down again a little and simmer for 10-15 mins so the flavours mingle and the ham begins to collapse into shreds. Fish out the bay leaf and taste the soup – add more salt and pepper if it needs it. Ladle into warm bowls to serve.