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!