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Soups & Stews

A bowl of homemade soup with some good fresh bread and perhaps some good strong cheddar cheese is not only a wonderful thing but also one of the greatest gifts you can give. There's a reason they call Chicken Soup 'Jewish Penicillin', if you or a loved one is sick with a cold or flu there's nothing better to get your appetite back and build up your strength. It’s as easy as it gets to cook and there are no rules. It’s a great way of using up any meat and veg you have laying around in the fridge or the cupboard. It’s tasty, healthy and cheap as chips. Nothing like it on a cold winters day or a summer afternoon and what you don’t eat will keep in the freezer for months. The recipes here are some that I’ve come up with and others I’ve just changed around a bit to suit my taste, which is of course what you should do too.  The other thing to remember is that pretty much any soup, or stew for that matter, will be better the next day, so if you can manage to hold off and not eat it as soon as it's ready, keep it in the fridge overnight and reheat it the next day. Or you can do what I usually do and eat it all up immediately while telling myself I'll wait 24 hours next time. Patience is indeed a virtue, but as the old man said to his wife on their wedding anniversary when she asked if he'd like super sex, "I'll take the soup".


Chicken Soup


Roast Chicken

4 cups Chicken Stock

2 large Carrots

1 large Onion

1 stick Celery

2 or 3 cloves Garlic

1 cup frozen Peas

1 small Chili Pepper

1 can Butter Beans

1 can Green Beans

1 pack Ramen Noodles

1 sprig Thyme

Salt & Pepper




 Begin by either roasting a chicken or popping down the road to your local supermarket and buying one of those rotisserie jobs, they’re perfect for this and save a lot of time and effort. The breast of the chicken is good for soup as there’s no danger of it drying out.


Roughly chop the Onion, Carrots and Celery and sweat them all in a bit of olive oil in a cast iron Dutch Oven or large saucepan. While that’s going on peel and crush the Garlic, slice up the chili and pull the meat off the chicken, you can chop it up neatly or just pull it apart with your hands. Get all that into the pan along with the sprig of Thyme and let it all meld together for a minute or two and start adding the stock.


Add the Peas and the tins of beans including the liquid, that’s good stuff in there, full of flavor.


Let it simmer gently for a good half hour and when you’re ready to serve add the Noodles, making sure not to include the little foil packet of powder stuff. In 2 minutes the soup is ready to eat. Salt & Pepper to taste.





Cabbage & Bacon Soup­



1 Savoy Cabbage, shredded

½lb good quality Bacon - 1” pieces

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves Garlic, crushed

2 large Potatoes - 1” pieces

4 cups Chicken Stock

1 Chili Pepper

1 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Thyme


Put the bacon in a large heavy saucepan over a high heat. As the bacon starts to brown throw in the onion, chili, garlic and herbs and give it a stir around and 5 minutes of fun in the pan, then add the cabbage and another 5 minutes of fun.


Add the stock and the potatoes, bring to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and put the lid on.


After 20 minutes you should have a delicious hearty soup, crusty bread, big chunk of good cheese and a nice glass of chilled dry cider. Deep joy.





Carrot & Tomato Soup



2 Onions

6 Carrots

4 cups Veg Stock

3 Tomatoes

4 – 6 fresh Basil leaves

Feta or Goat Cheese

Chili Oil











Roughly chop the Onions and Carrots and sauté in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven until softened and just starting to color a bit, stirring all the time.


Add the stock and bring to a boil and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes.


Chop the Tomatoes and cook in a tbsp. of oil in a skillet until they’re mushy.


Blend the soup in a food processor and stir in the Tomato. Serve with some Cheese crumbled on top and a drizzle of Chili Oil.

                                         Chili con Carne



1lb beef, any cheap cut.

1lb pork, any cheap cut

1 can Red Kidney Beans

1 can Barlotti or Butter Beans

1 large can tomatoes

1 tbsp Tomato Paste

1 large onion

 2 sticks celery

2 large carrots

4 cloves garlic

2 or 3 red chili peppers

1 tsp ground Cumin

2 tsp Chili Powder

3 or 4 Dill pickles

2 or 3 tsp good Mustard










Who doesn’t love a good Chili? There are a million different ways to make Chili con Carne, or ‘Stew with Meat’. What I love about this dish is that you can add pretty much anything to it, empty the fridge of all those condiments and god knows what that have been there at the back of the shelf since last Easter. Any leftovers? Get in. Wine? Beer? Not half, get in.


Chop all the meat into bite-size pieces and in a heavy Dutch oven or casserole dish fry it in hot oil until it’s all brown and seared and lovely. Chop up the onion, carrots and celery and get them in there with the meat. Once the onion is golden brown add the garlic, crushed, chilis, tomato paste, tomatoes, beans, mustard and then chop up the pickles and throw them into the pot along with a good glug of the vinegar from the pickle jar. Vinegar is one of the best things in the world and as well as adding great flavor it will make the meat nice and tender. Once it’s all simmering away nicely add a glass or two of red wine, making sure to pour one for yourself of course. If you drank all the wine last night then feel free to add a bottle of beer instead, no worries.


Take it off the heat and pop the whole thing into a low oven 250F/120C, pour yourself a drink, make a cup of tea, perhaps a tasty snack, get comfy on the sofa and watch a good movie on the telly.


When the movie is over, check on the chilli. If the meat is fork tender then you’re ready for the rice. Turn off the oven and leave the chili in there while you cook the rice. Once that’s ready it’s time to serve. Finely chopped shallots, sour cream, grated cheddar and cilantro on top will make it ‘muy bien’.

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