Spicy parsnip soup

Parsnips. Love ’em. The second most festive vegetable – but sprout soup doesn’t exactly appeal  😉 So, parsnips it was, and the quest was on to find something a bit interesting to do with them. Step forward: spicy parsnip soup, with ginger and garam masala, creamy but not too unhealthy.

spicy-parsnip-soup

It’s been a long time since I made a new soup that impressed me quite as much as this one! I was a little concerned about using milk in a soup, but it worked fine, and means you get that creaminess without the calories of cream.

It does mean I’m not so sure about freezing any leftovers, which is one reason for the odd quantities in the recipe – well, that and I only had three parsnips! Actually, I quite like doing a smaller batch once in a while: less work, and no risk of getting fed up of the soup before it’s eaten!

One note: this isn’t the prettiest of soups, particularly while it’s cooking where the spices turn it a rather odd mushroomy colour. Don’t let that put you off – it tastes fantastic!

Slow-cooked chicken casserole

Much as I love my slow cooker (aka crock pot), my results can be a little hit and miss. Yesterday’s attempts at a fairly simple chicken casserole, however, were so amazing that I had to scribble down my recipe (here) so I can do this one again!

slow cooked chicken casserole

First to mention, I have one of the smaller-sized slow cookers (about 1.5 litres, I think), which is supposed to be a 2-portion version. However, I tend to cook my accompaniment separately (shout out for frozen mashed potatoes, btw!) which means I get 3 or even 4 portions out of a batch – certainly, 4 out of this batch!

Starting with chicken – I suppose I’m a little ‘mean’ with this, using less than 1 breast per person, but I like to balance it with more veg – I used carrots, parsnip, and leek as my veggies. Top tip: leave the carrots far more chunky than you would usually – the slow cooker makes them lovely and tender, and it’s nice to have a substantial ‘chunk’ as an added feature in the meal. This is pretty important, in my view, to balance the super-tender chicken which can flake into next to nothingness after a long cook. The leeks also more or less vanished into the sauce, along with the onion which I’d only added for flavour.

Flavour was the big aim for this dish. First, a splash of white wine. I’d advise going easy on this – wine can turn a little bitter in a slow cooker, I’ve found. Then some herbs and spices: a little garlic puree, a splash of (vegetarian, so fish-free) worcestershire sauce for that ‘umami-ness’, and a good shake of chicken seasoning (I have the Swartz spice one) – these are all rather unspecific, my apologies, but the phrase ‘to taste’ is a saver here 😉

I’m a recent convert to the ‘stock pot’ style of stock (no, I don’t make my own!), and used about ⅔ of one – the rest will go into my risotto tomorrow. I also added some chicken gravy powder – just a little, for flavour and, I’d hoped, a little thickness – no measurement to share, sorry! Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients to about ⅔ – too much liquid is a common mistake (for me!) with slow cooking. Mix it all well, especially trying to distribute the stock.

I’d prepped all this the night before, so as I was heading out to work I put the crock pot on low and left it for about 8 hours. The house smelled amazing when I got back last night!

Alas, I hadn’t quite got the liquid right, so it was looking fairly running – don’t panic! As I stirred, a lot of the chicken broke up, and the leeks broke down, both adding a little thickness. I also added some cornflour – mixed with a little cold water – and left the whole thing uncovered on high for about half an hour while I prepared the rest of the meal. I know some people find the point of slow cooking to have the entire meal in ‘one pot’ fashion, but I like the extra portion of ‘main’ and a little separation for the sides. Besides, frozen mashed potato is surprisingly nice, and ready in a few minutes!

Rather impressed myself with this one – for a ‘made up’ recipe, it was absolutely delicious! 🙂

Winter veg and lentil soup

Recipe is here.

Happy New Year, and time to get serious about this blog! What better way to start both the cooking and the year than with a healthy and hearty soup.

I first made this during November in an attempt to use up lots of veg I’d bought to make Root Vegetable Cobbler. I do like finding coordinating recipes – more on that later! The soup recipe I stumbled across was Winter lentil and vegetable on AllRecipes, but adapted it to suit (in particular, I didn’t like the thought of tomatoes and parsnip as a mix!). In the end, it turned into my fall-back carrot and lentil with extra veggies – but wow, those extra flavours were nom!

Plan is to have more photos to match the recipes soon, but in the meantime this is a healthy and very, very easy soup to make. A great way to start to redress some of the festive period’s overeating! 😉