Monday, 31 January 2011

Courgette Soup and a painting by Millais

Inspiration comes in numerous guises. This morning, I was strolling around Tate Britain making notes for my new novel, and was drawn to the well-known painting Millais' Ophelia. Not, this time, for its fluid brushstrokes, the beauty of the model (Elizabeth Siddall) or its mood of ethereal limbo, but for that vivid splash of green at the bottom of the painting. There's a hint of lime in it, and almost turquoise, a splash of colour which is fresh and alive in a way that Ophelia is so soon not to be. But above all, it reminded me of courgette soup.

And so, dear reader, this is what I made for lunch today - on a weekday , when we usually convince ourselves that we only have time to nibble that bit of cheese, or grab a sandwich. From chopping start to blender it took thirteen minutes to make, and obviously less time to eat. But it occurred to me - as I gently sliced through half an onion, sweated it in some butter, added some a thinly sliced emerald green courgette and a fluttering of thyme leaves, and covered the vegetables with a little chicken stock - that the relaxing properties of making ourselves something tasty, cheap and undemanding to eat in the middle of a busy day, is one of life's undervalued luxuries.

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