Hearty Chicken, Carrot and Squash Soup – with a super greens twist

On Monday I wrote about rain. Or rather how to fight the rainy day, wintry blues. As much as I love the summer with all its warm sunshine, there are certain things about the kitchen in autumn that just don’t work for me in 30 degree July heat.

One of those things is soup! Hearty, homely, warming soup. Thick, inviting, steaming broths, concocted from bits and bobs and leftovers.

Perhaps what is most satisfying about soup is its unpredictability. No soup is bad soup (apart from a baby weaning pea soup I once made which was just lumpy, tasteless, green water) but some soups turn out better than others.

Well, today I whipped up a batch of what is lovingly known in my family as Christmas soup. So called because a few days after Christmas, my mum would strip the last of the meat from the Christmas turkey and throw it in the pressure cooker with vegetables. The resulting smell which greeted me as I came downstairs promised thick, orange, flavour filled soup. And this is perhaps why I still make most of my soups in the pressure cooker. That smell is unique.

Nowadays I stick to a superfood, clean version of the soup which I can give to Isaac, offer to guests, shove in the freezer in batches or serve for a light dinner with hunks of home made walnut bread. It’s packed with protein and pressure cooking seals in nutrients. So here it is with my super greens twist.

Ingredients:

1 large/2 small onions, roughly chopped

2 chicken legs (you can also make this with leftover chicken and bones from a roast)

4 medium carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped

1/3 of a squash, scrubbed or peeled and roughly chopped

3 stalks of celery, scrubbed and roughly chopped

Broccoli stalks (this is my super greens part), roughly chopped

A pinch of peppercorns

2 tsp vegetable bouillon

Bay leaf

Fresh thyme (you can use dried but sometimes it’s a bit woody)

Method:

Soften the onions and seal the chicken in your pressure cooker or pan with a few tbsp of olive oil/butter/coconut oil.

Add all the remaining ingredients and stir around a bit while you add the herbs etc.

Half fill the pressure cooker with water, or just enough water to nearly cover the ingredients.

Bring to pressure and cook for 30 minutes. If you’re cooking this in a pan it would take about 1h30mins on a simmer.

When it’s finished, take the bay leaves out and discard bones/skin/bits from the chicken then add the meat to the soup and whizz it with a hand blender or in a blender.

ENJOY! 

Sticky chicken thighs with roasted veggies and cherry tomatoes.

I’ve always been a fan of the humble chicken thigh. They’re full of flavour which lends them perfectly to curries and strong flavours; they’re great in the slow cooker; they’re deliciously juicy simply roasted – and to my mind far superior to the humble drumstick which can be a bit sinewy; they are toddler friendly because they become so soft after slow cooking; and, in these budget conscious times they are way cheaper than breast meat.

Hubby, Isaac and I do our best to eat together where possible, especially our evening meal. This one pot meal (an adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe) suits all our tastes. Isaac can nibble away at all the things he likes and of course, it’s totally adaptable to what you like or indeed what you have in the fridge! Think of it like a nutritious box of Quality Street. Everyone has their favourite bits.

Boost the nutrients in this dish by including lots of sweet potato, beetroot, carrots and tomatoes.

Sticky chicken thighs with root vegetables and cherry tomatoes (baby and toddler friendly).

Serves 2 and a bit with leftovers for lunch the next day (depending how hungry you are)

Handful of new potatoes, scrubbed

1 large or two small sweet potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into chunks

2 or 3 cooked beetroot in natural juices, cut into wedges

A packet of cherry tomatoes, preferably skinned

Oregano (fresh or dried)

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar (balsamic works too)

6-8 chicken thigh fillets (chopped into finger sized pieces – you can use whole thighs too)

Salt and pepper to taste (you can add salt later if you have little mouths to feed)

Method:

Boil the potatoes for around 10 minutes, if you’re using sweet potatoes too you can add these to the spuds.

Put the chicken thigh fillets in an ovenproof/hobproof casserole and cook them over a medium heat until they’re sealed and nearly cooked.

Add all the remaining vegetables and potatoes to the pan and toss around in the chicken juices.

Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a good splash of the vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper. Then give all the ingredients another mix.

Put the casserole dish (lid off) in a pre-heated oven (200 degrees, Gas Mark 6) for 40 minutes until cooked through and golden.

Serve with a big bunch of watercress on the side x

20120825-192648.jpg