THAT time of year . . .

One pot soups

We all know Christmas comes once a year, and at the same time, so why do I always find myself rushing to finish off making presents?!  You would think I would be more organised to have them all finished by the end of November, ready for wrapping. But no – I find myself with a neglected husband, neglected garden and putting off going out whilst the sewing machine whirrs and my office looks like a whirlwind has been through it, scattering pins, bits of material and all things that glitter! Sometimes, it’s the wait for inspiration of what to make and for whom; then there’s the planning and preparing. A bit like cooking, really.  And whilst all this arty crafty thing is going on the last thing I want is to spend a lot of time in the kitchen  Main meal soup is the answer – and made first thing in the morning before anything else.  Filling and good for you with lots of fresh ingredients – and substantial enough even for The Husband!

Mushroom and Sausage Main meal soup

  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound Italian or Toulouse sausage casings removed
  • 1/2 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • 75g dried French or brown lentils picked through and rinsed
  • 750 ml stock
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine (optional – you can always drink it whilst you are cooking, if not making in the morning!)
  • crushed red chilli flakes
  • baby spinach roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for garnish

Heat oil a large pot over a medium heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add sausage and cook, breaking into small chunks until it begins to brown.  Add mushroom and continue to cook until mushrooms have released most of their liquid, about 3 minutes.  Add lentils, stock, tomato, wine (if using) and chilli flakes.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add spinach and season stirring well until the spinach wilts.  Stir in thyme.  Ladle soup into a bowl and top with cheese.

And before No 1 daughter can point out – I know the above recipe is for more than one – but I need something to dip and in and out of – and I am sure this is the one time other people may need to do too!

And one quick, 5 ingredient one using leftover chicken

Chicken and Pesto Soup

  • 500 ml good-quality chicken stock
  • fresh spinach
  • shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 – 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons pesto
  • optional topping: grated Parmesan cheese

Stir together chicken stock, spinach, chicken, beans in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium, stir in the pesto, and let the soup continue to simmer for 2 minutes. Serve warm, topped with Parmesan cheese if desired, with sourdough toast (my favourite!)

PS one of the hens decided to pull a sickie yesterday and go for a night in by the fire.  Not sure what is wrong with her but she seems very happy in the kitchen, after a feed of bread, egg, honey and cat food!




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