We had barely finished eating our dinner on St Stephen's Day last year (December 26) when I realised we had run out of milk. The advantage of living so close to one of the largest supermarkets in the country meant we were able to swing up and get what we needed. All of the party food was reduced. It was yellow sticker heaven. This was my first experience of yellow sticker rage though.
I noticed a few people hanging around the fresh food and meat section with empty trolleys. Lurking. There was a staff member scanning and re-sticking yellow labels and bar codes on everything that was at the end of sell by range. On the end of one aisle there was a display of ham legs. Huge legs of ham and they were due to expire the following day (December 27). He reduced them to half price as I walked through the shop and grabbed a carton of milk. The trolley lurkers descended and he was nearly knocked over in the rush.
When the dust cleared, and the manager had dusted his employee down, he reduced the hams again on the sly. I went to the checkout with a ham under each oxter. Himself nearly cracked up laughing at me arriving at the car with these enormous hams which were heavier than the toddler.
Once home I cooked up the hams, reserved the cooking liquid, then divided the meat into meal size portions. Popped each meal into a freezer bag, dated with a permanent marker and we had 35 meals from those 2 legs of ham. That's what bargain hunting is all about.
If you take anything from this story - it's that if you're near your supermarket, be sure to check the yellow stickers!
This ham soup with dumplings is a great one-pot meal. You could even freeze the cooking water from the ham and reheat it to make the soup at a later date. I'm thanking my lucky stars that I managed to pick up a second hand chest freezer over the summer as it is so much an essential part of my kitchen kit now I don't know what I did beforehand!
Ham Soup With Dumplings (serves 5)
1 litre ham cooking liquid/stock
1/2 turnip/swede, peeled and chopped into dice sized pieces
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into dice sized pieces
100g of dried soup mix
300g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 spring onions/scallions finely chopped
30g melted butter
70ml cold water
400g shredded, cooked ham
1. Take a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with a firm lid. Pour in the stock, soup mix and chopped vegetables and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, scallions and melted butter. Then slowly pour in the cold water in quarters. Stir the mixture with a fork and stop adding water when you have a stiff dough.
3. Once the vegetables in the pot are cooked and tender, stir in the shredded ham. Shape the dough into small ping-pong sized balls. Sit them on top of the soup. Put the lid back on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a large spoon, gently turn the dough over and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
4. Serve in large soup bowls and eat with a spoon.
* Soup mix is a dried mixture of pulses that you can buy in your supermarket. There are 2 types. One requires pre-soaking, I only buy the ready to use version! you'll typically find a mixture of barley, wheat, lentils and small beans in the mixture. Very handy for bulking up a soup or stew and adding fibre to your diet.
Caítríona, mum to 2 small boys, wife to himself, chief cook & bottlewasher.
Blogs at: Wholesome Ireland