I’m not posting the recipe just yet, as I found I’d run out of the ingredients needed for chicken stock. I had a little Knorr Touch of Taste Chicken – and that’s all, so it really doesn’t taste very much of chicken at all. However, the principle is sound and, of course, it would make a perfectly good veggie soup. And, as befits the current weather, it’s rather robust – though most of my soups tend to be anyway.
I think what I’ll do is just list the ingredients for now, and if you want to try it, use whatever stock-making products you have, and I’ll come back with the proper “chicken” version next week. The method follows my normal soup format.
So, as a nod to my newly-discovered need for low(ish)-fat food, I decided to go with pretend chicken. I simply can’t buy chicken I’d be willing to eat, a price I’m willing to pay – I want thighs and drumsticks, skin on, bone in, and they cost about £10 per kilo more than a whole bird. It’s not that I can’t afford it – it’s a rip-off. It does not cost £10 a kilo more to reduce a bird to its component parts.
I had this same problem last year, and decided to try something I’d never had before, a Quorn Family Roast – any flavour you like so long as it’s chicken(ish).
It was quite successful as a substitute for real chicken, far more so than other Quorn chicken variants. Just one drawback, the cooking instructions meant that a lot of flavour was lost in the roasting process. This time I just pricked the casing with the point of a small knife. Inevitable there was some loss, but less than last time.
The Family Roast comes in one size as well as one flavour, 454g, or 1lb in old money, and is currently on offer at Sainsbury’s for £2.00. Once cooked I cut it in half lengthways, sliced it and then froze it in two portions (I’ve not tried it, but sliced thinly and sizzled in hot butter to reheat it, I think it would make a pretty fair sandwich filling).
There was still some loss of juices, which means loss of flavour, so next time I’m going to ignore the instructions, remove the casing then seal the thing tightly in foil, folding the edges together and twisting the ends. Alternatively, popping it into a roasting bag would work too.
Either way, any leakage can be recovered by dunking the foil or bag in hot water, if it’s baked on, and letting it dissolve. You might feel this is a lot of buggeration, but you do lose a lot of flavour otherwise.
For soup, I can either toss in the whole thing, further cut up, either into spoon-size pieces or shredded or, what I did last time, use half, and pad it out with beans. What can I tell you – I like beans – and today it’ll be a batch of cooked Judion de la Granja.
Obviously I went with the bean option, and cut the semicircular Quorn slices into rough strips a little wider than linguine
There’s the usual base of Echalion shallots, Sweet Spear carrots, and diced swede. I’ve given up on celeriac – there’s just too much waste and the quality is dire. I was torn between either baby spinach or broccoli, added near the end, but in the event I didn’t have enough of the latter, which is what I really wanted, so I went with both.
The Ingredients, then (as I said, the proper recipe will follow soon:-
6 or 8 large Echalion shallots, depending on size, cut into 3 lengthways then finely sliced across
6 Sweet Spear carrots if skinny, 4 if fat. If skinny, peel and slice about as thick as a pound coin, if fat quarter them lengthways first
NB: I’ve noticed, of late, that Sweet Spear are difficult to cook, remaining seriously al dente no matter how long you cook them for – this is not what I want in a soup. Pretty sure they’re not as tasty, too.
Swede, in small dice, about the same amount
3 tablespoons of garlic oil (do make your own – shop-bought is a weak and feeble thing, as I’ve just discovered – see below)
2 teaspoons dried basil
Whatever stock cubes and/or concentrates you have though chicken, obvs, would be good. I started, as ever, with Kallo organic veg cubes, 3 of them, melted into the softened shallots, plus half a bottle of ToT Chicken and a tablespoon of Marigold. Might seem like a lot, but it’s 4 litres of soup.
Towards the end I added, and cooked for half an hour, the following:-
635g pre-cooked Judion de la Granja beans (or whatever beans you prefer), or 3 cans, drained and rinsed
Half of a Quorn Family Roast, cooked and sliced as above
250g frozen broccoli florets, defrosted. I use Sainsbury’s as they have a good proportion of floret to stalk. Slice the stalk thinly, and cut the florets into spoon-sized pieces
Half a dozen lumps of frozen baby spinach. Leave to soften for a few minutes
And seasoned with Maldon sea salt flakes and Schwartz black pepper
And last time I made soup it was a bit dull, so I added a little sugar in the bowl, and it really came to life. So this time, just for the hell of it, I added a tablespoon of golden caster sugar to the pot and, once again, it made a big difference. Used with discretion I think sugar can be a valuable ingredient rather than the curse it’s currently portrayed as. A bit like my growing habit of adding fruit to savoury dishes (yep – I know it’s an old tradition), but without adding fruity flavours.
Just used a very disappointing bottle of Sainsbury’s Garlic Oil. Smells good, tastes of sod all, so I’m going back to making my own
A 500ml jar – a Kilner jar is good
Not quite 500ml of oil. I use extra virgin olive oil; you might read that cooking with it is pointless as you lose the flavour. I don’t find that and, anyway, olive oil has other virtues, not least its balance of fats. And, of course, by using e-v olive oil, rather than something more or less tasteless, it becomes much more versatile, and can be drizzled over food, or added to salad dressings.
6 to 10 plump, unshrivelled, garlic cloves, depending on how pungent you want your oil.
Peel the garlic, trim the root end and cut away any dark, shrivelled, parts. Keep what you cut out then, at the end, add a clove or two to compensate for the loss, giving them the same treatment. Chop the cloves, or crush with the flat of a knife blade or cleaver, and put in the jar.
Fill with oil, cap tightly, shake well, and keep somewhere cool and dark (not the fridge), for a couple of weeks, or until you have the desired strength, shaking the jar every couple of days. Once the oil is to your satisfaction, strain into a suitable sterile glass bottle with a screw cap, and stash with your herbs and spices, which should be in a dark cupboard in a cool spot.
Note: You can skip the straining if you wish, in which case your oil will increase in strength as time goes by. Or you can add fresh oil as you use it, in which case it’ll stay about the same.
Just don’t keep it so long that the garlic starts to decay!
And by adding 60g of peeled and chopped root ginger, and 3 or 4 crushed, dried chillies you’ll have an oil that will perk up a whole range of dishes.
And that’s it for now.
Although this isn’t the complete recipe, it gets 3 spoons as there’s nothing physically demanding. (2 spoons if you opt for pre-prepped carrots and onions.)