Thai Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

Thai Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

Thai Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

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Most of us have memories of Chicken Noodle Soup in one form or another, often associated with feeling ill. There is something warm and comforting about nice rich broth, tender chunks of chicken and slurpy noodles. There are also sound nutritional benefits to such broths, particularly after a tummy upset and/or fever. Salts, electrolytes and easily digested proteins are just a few. My version includes sesame oil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and basil, all used as anti-microbials to fight the effects of influenza, colds, fever, stomach upsets and as a general tonic in many cultures. This makes for very tasty medicine indeed.

Arrhythmic Borscht

Arythmic Borscht

Arrhythmic Borscht

For such a gentle and genteel fellow, my Dad loves a pun war .. and he fights dirty. The man who loves ballet, poetry and the Bible, who hummed Bach cantatas and spent endless hours reading Aesop’s Fables or Virgil to his tiny daughter .. also regularly threw down the gauntlet to engage in anything from light verbal sparring to a free-for-all that left me curled in a foetal position, waving a white flag. I mean, the man makes puns in Latin and Ancient Greek for heavens sake!! To be fair, Dad tried to prepare his offspring with a steady diet of “Goon Show”, Anna Russell and Victor Borge. Our wits were honed by plenty of mental exercise and fuelled by banquets of literature. But I didn’t stand a chance.

Came the day that Dad and Mum had joined us for dinner. I had found some monster purple carrots in the garden, too old and tough for anything but soup, so I adapted a recipe for Broscht and bided my time. Yes, it was a trap. Dad looked at the bright purple soup and commented that it tasted funny, not at all like the Borscht he was used to. I feigned my best innocent smile and replied that it was made from carrots, no beets at all. Quick as a flash, Scribbler replied “That would make it Arrhythmic; wouldn’t it?” Dad closed his eyes and bowed his head in surrender; “God help me.” he moaned “It’s bred true.”

Scribbler and I hi-fived each other and shared a grin. Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but in this house it is piping hot, and smells of carrots ..

Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 bunch purple carrots (about 700g)
  • 1 swede
  • 2 leeks, white part only
  • ½ head fennel
  • 1.5 litres stock
  • ½ teaspoon pimento/allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic

Peel and chop the carrots and swede. Slice the leeks and fennel. Don’t be too fussy, as long as the vegetable chunks are more or less the same size so that they cook evenly.

Place all of the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Make sure to stir the soup every ten minutes or so to prevent the vegetables sticking.

Cool the soup slightly, then transfer to a food processor. Process until very smooth (you may need to do this in batches unless you have a stick blender).

Return to saucepan and gently heat before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with parsley and/or fresh dill and a generous dollop of either cream, sour cream or plain yoghurt. Don’t forget some nice crusty bread

Turkey “Scotch Broth”

Turkey Scotch Broth

Turkey Scotch Broth

Up until a few years ago, lamb shanks were sneered at as practically offal and sold as dog food. My family sniggered at this ignorance, happily souping (or casseroling) it up and fighting over what we considered the best bit of a lamb roast. Times have changed and the last laugh is on us. With the advent of the Celebrity Chef phenomena came “gourmet peasant” cuisine, and the humble lamb shank was suddenly much sought after. As a result butchers now charge something like 3 – 4000% what they did a decade ago, putting the original of this dish firmly out of my budget. I began experimenting with the much more affordable turkey wings, finding that as long as I skinned them, something wonderful appeared. It’s not quite the flavour I remember with such nostalgia, it’s not lamb after all. It is however, warm, filling and delicious. Who knows? Perhaps a new nostalgia has been born.

Chicken, Sweetcorn and Shitake Mushroom Soup

Chicken, Sweetcorn and Shitake Soup

Chicken, Sweetcorn and Shitake Soup

This is another dish I started making in self-defense as it was so popular with the Junior Sorority that I was spending a goodly proportion of the budget on the tinned version. Like most Asian soups the emphasis is on fresh, which suits me just fine because that means short cooking times to leave the vegetables crisp and colourful. The broth in my version is not quite as thick as the commercial ones .. add a little creamed corn or an extra tablespoon of cornflour if it’s too thin for you. I have included the single serve option in the notes.

Please Note: I made a typo when I originally posted this recipe. You need 50g of dried mushrooms NOT 500g. My sincere apologies to those of you who made mushroom-with-incidental-stuff soup before I noticed.

TexMex Steak ‘n Beans Pottage

Tex-Mex Steak 'n Beans Pottage

Tex-Mex Steak 'n Beans Pottage

The first time I made this using leftovers from a BBQ. The rich, meaty stick-to-your ribs goodness was an instant hit. TBone is wonderful as the bone gives a silky texture to the broth, however any decent steak will do as long as you use a good stock. I also use a 375g packet of McKenzie’s four bean mix which may not be available in your area, so substitute 2 cups of mixed dried beans. Experiment with chilli varieties to make it as hot (or not) as you like. I used Jalepeño which gives it some subtlety, a little extra warmth for the cockles of your heart. If you don’t have American chilli jelly, or sweet chilli jam in your cupboard, ½ cup of sweet chiili sauce would be an acceptable substitute.