A very quick and tasty soup to make for lunch. You can also use up bacon if you have a couple of rashers in the fridge, rather than the ham which makes it a cheaper option for students.

Serves 2 as main course or 4 as a starter


1 Tablespoon mild olive oil (or butter if you prefer)

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes

400g frozen peas

400ml chicken stock (made from 1 x Knorr gel stock pot)

200ml milk

100g packet ham hock (cooked, diced ham)



  1. Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan on low or medium heat, then add the onion and potato, season with salt and pepper, then stir to coat the vegetables in the oil.
  2. Put a lid on the pan, cook on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Make up the stock by adding 1 x gel stock pot to 400ml of boiling water. Add the peas and stock to the pan, then bring to the boil. Cook for a couple of minutes until all of the peas have floated to the top of the stock and are tender and bright.
  4. Take the pan off the heat. Using a stick blender, process the peas until very smooth. Add the milk and process again.
  5. Bring the soup back to a simmer, then season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Both the ham and the stock are fairly salty, so you may not need to add salt.
  6. Stir the ham through the soup and serve.

Approx. cost = £4.50 (this pea soup without ham would be £2.50, so you could consider using up some rashers of bacon. Simply cook off and add at the end in place of the ham)

Comfort food for Rainy Days – Cauliflower cheese with crispy chorizo

Cauliflower cheese with crispy chorizo

This is a quick and easy and nutritious meal for everyone. I am currently teaching my son Jamie some easily achievable recipes for when he goes to uni in September. He tested this recipe and it worked out perfectly so now he is going to it out by making if for his girlfriend this weekend. We had it for supper with some ciabatta bread and a tomato salad. Perfect.

To serve 4


  • 1 firm cauliflower
  • 50g of unsalted butter
  • 50g of plain white flour
  • pinch dry mustard (optional)
  • pinch paprika (optional)
  • 500ml of milk
  • 100g of mature cheddar cheese – grated
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 100g of diced cooking chorizo (optional)
  • 4 Tbs Parmesan for the top
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6.
  2. Wash the cauliflower and separated into equal sized florets. Bring a large saucepan of boiling water. Simmer for about eight minutes (testing after five) until cooked but still with a bite. Drain through a colander and set aside while as you make the sauce. Alternatively steam for 10 minutes or so until tender (see Tip below).
  3. To make a rich cheese sauce, melt the butter and, add the flour, mustard powder and paprika if using. Stir for a few minutes to cook out the flour. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly so that the mixture (known as a roux) absorbs all the milk before you add the next lot. When all the milk has been added let the sauce simmer for ten minutes to thicken. It should be fairly thick and smooth by this stage. If there are any remaining lumps, a good whizz with an electric hand whisk can sort this out.
  4. Add both types of cheese and allow to simmer for a further 3-4 minutes. Add a good twist of black pepper.
  5. Place the drained cauliflower into a ovenproof dish
  6. and pour the sauce over the cauliflower, making sure it is well coated.
  7. Scatter a little Parmesan on top and bake for 25  minutes.
  8. Towards the end of the cooking time, fry the chorizo bits over a gentle heat in a frying pan until they are golden brown and cooked through.This should take around 4-5 minutes.
  9.  When the cauliflower is bubbling and golden, remove from the oven and serve with the chorizo bits scattered on top.

TIP: Steaming small amounts of vegetables is the best way of preserving the nutrients and helps keep the texture. We have a very nifty and space saving collapsible steamer basket. You can get them in shops like Robert Dyas or from Lakeland.

NOTE:  I have put some as the ingredients as optional as student cooks will probably not have the cupboard space nor frequent use for some of these items. The chorizo is also optional as it is an added expense for students on a tight budget, but could be substituted with some rashers of streaky bacon.