When I was 24, I went to the UK as an exchange student. I ended up in quaint little Ripon, in North Yorkshire with my friend Ingrid. The University there had 850 students and we had a great time (this is where I met my husband when he directed me in a play about voyeurism, but that is a completely different story).
Now, my friend Pernille also went on an exchange program in the UK, but she ended up at Liverpool Hope – a million miles from the tiny, close knit community of Ripon. The dorms there were massive, there were tons of people and the noise was immense. I don’t remember much of the trip I took there to visit her, as I seem to recall it containing quite a lot of alcohol………. but there are two things that do stand out in my mind
- going on a pub crawl in Liverpool. It was -5 degrees, freezing, and like the good vikings we Scandinavian girls are, we dressed for the weather: a big coat, gloves, scarf and boots…. The pub crawl tool place in a square and I guess the Liverpudlian girls did not see the point in dressing up warmly. I still, 12 years later, remember a load of girls wearing less than I would wear on the beach in freezing condition. Oddly enough, we three Scandinavian girls, dressed in practical non flesh revealing clothes, got more attention than the bikini clad ones…
- The tomato soup at Egg Café: my friend had discovered this little, bohemian loft café, which served the most amazing vegetarian dishes. We especially fell in love with their tomato soup and since then my friend tried to recreate it. It is a good few years since she passed the recipe on to me and even more since we visited the café, and recipes develop, but here is my attempt at making The Egg Café Tomato Soup:
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and finely grated
- 2 medium sized carrots, finely grated
- 1 large, red pepper, charred on a high heat in the oven, skin removed and cut into small cubes.
- 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 stick of celery, cut into small pieces (optional)
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 1,25 liters of vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon of chili flakes (optional – the soup at the cafe was not hot – I just like it that way)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
Fry the onions and garlic until soft, then add the other vegetables and chili flakes – keep stirring or the starch from the potatoes will burn. Cook this for a couple of minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and the chicken stock, stir and leave to boil for 15-20 minutes or till all the vegetables have gone completely soft. Season with sugar and blend with a hand blender till you get a thick, smooth soup (no need to thicken it as the vegetables provide the thickness)
Serve with crispy bacon and homemade garlic bread. I like to make my garlic bread like a pizza on my pizza stone – make a dough as you normal, roll it out thinly with a rolling pin. Make a mixture of butter, garlic and finely chopped parsley and smear it all over the base – cook on your hot pizza stone (if you don’t have one, you can use a hot baking sheet, dusted with flour) on high heat until brown and crispy. You can add a little grated cheese to make it even more delicious…..
A big hit with my family, is serving this soup with cheesy buns – you simply make normal buns, flatten them before baking and sprinkle them with cheese.
As it happens, the Egg Cafe still exists and seems to be thriving – memories fade and I have no idea if my soup at all resembles the original one, but I know it tastes delicious and that it’s healthy (if you choose to serve it without cheesy buns, garlic bread or bacon)