Saturday, 28 January 2017

Quick Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

This tasty soup is so simple to make, it is quicker to rustle it up yourself than pop to your nearest takeaway and bring one back!

Plus when you make it yourself, you know what's in it - and I like to make my version a little more filling and flavourful than the versions I've had in some Chinese eateries, which can err on the side of insipid at times. It's also a great way to use up roast chicken leftovers (although you might need to adjust the calories, if you're counting!).

We had this for our Chinese New Year starter (followed by my favourite of beef in black bean sauce) - the added bonus of making it at home being that I knew it was safe for my daughter to eat as I could guarantee it was gluten free - which won't make a difference to most people, as it's mostly a case of just making sure you use gluten free soy sauce (or tamari) instead. And before anyone says anything, my apologies to anyone of Chinese descent for the authenticity of this soup... it's very popular in the UK!

Serves four people from 195 calories a portion. (A quarter portion weighs around 350g, so you could make them smaller to serve more, e.g. six portions of 235g and reduce the calories to 130 if you like!).

Bacon Wrapped Herbed Sausagemeat Stuffing Roll (can be gluten free)

A moist and delicious way to have your stuffing with roast dinners, with a tasty bacon wrapping.

This is really delicious served with roast dinners such as roast chicken, turkey, guinea fowl or pork Even better, to make life easy, you can even prepare this a day or two in advance so you have less to do on the day! I started making stuffing in a roll like this (too many) years ago, and it was so successful I've carried on, and thought I'd blog it now for posterity (and everyone else to enjoy)!

I do like a bit of stuffing, and/or a couple of 'pigs in blankets' with roast poultry or pork, but I must confess that sometimes my pigs in blankets might get a little too cosy in the oven (I get easily distracted and sometimes they are a little charred if I forget about them for ten minutes)! Wrapping the sausagemeat stuffing in bacon and cooking it this way means that you get all the flavours of pigs in blankets, and stuffing, and you don't need to worry so much about them in the oven, as it's more forgiving and turns out nice and moist inside.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Creamy Parsnip and Leek Soup with Lemon, Turmeric and Coriander

This unusual combination gives a surprisingly delicious and creamy soup with subtle Thai flavours.

This soup was created as a result of what was in the fridge that needed using up - at this time of year, after the weekend has passed (think roast dinners), things like parsnips tend to get sold off cheap and can be just too much of a bargain to resist at times! (I might just happen to have a bit of a 'yellow sticker' habit!). 

So I thought I'd do something a bit different with them for a change, and it turned out delicious! If you're not the biggest fan of parsnips, don't worry, the flavour is very delicate - they mostly just add a velvety, creamy texture to the soup. Or feel free to substitute with something like sweet potatoes, butternut squash or similar (remembering to adjust the calories if you're counting).

Serves six to eight, 135 to180 calories per portion (a smaller portion is around 275g if dividing into eight, a larger portion is around 370g if dividing into six). Chicken is extra.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Hearty Ham and Lentil Soup

A really delicious and filling soup that's easy to make and great for the family

This soup is amazingly tasty, given the simplicity of the ingredients - the secret is using a really tasty ham stock, and I carefully saved mine from cooking the Christmas ham, with the express intention of making soup. I made up the quantity of stock to what I needed using a couple of ham stock cubes as well, and you can of course make it just using stock cubes - Knorr do a good ham stock cube, and it's gluten and dairy free as well.

I was originally planning on this being a simple smooth soup (which is why I didn't add any actual ham meat to it, but of course you could easily cube some ham and add it at the end to warm through - especially if you cooked a big joint for Christmas or the New Year and want to use it up!) - however, as you can see, it's not, because when I tasted it once the lentils were cooked, it was so good I decided to leave it just as it was! See what you think... I may yet blitz a batch up, just to find out if it tastes as good smooth!

Serves eight, for 172 calories per serving (approximately 300-350g depending on how much liquid evaporates / is added).

Easy Ham and Cannellini Bean Soup (Gluten and Dairy Free)

A tasty, healthy soup that you can throw together for a nutritious light meal

Well, this was going to be ham and lentil soup, until I realised that my dried red lentils weren't actually gluten free (my daughter can't eat gluten) and I had to think of a quick substitute as things were already cooking away and I didn't want to waste my precious ham stock from cooking the Christmas ham (Knorr stock cubes are good too if you don't happen to have your own ham stock lying around)!

Luckily there are always various tins of beans in the cupboard here, so I substituted some cannellini beans in part of the broth so she could eat it, and put the lentils in the remainder (next blog!) for the rest of the family. You don't have to use cannellini beans, you could use butter beans, haricot or any other mild and creamy tasting white bean. It turned out really tasty, so I thought I'd share the recipe!

Serves four to six, from 93 calories per serving for a smaller portion (six smaller portions at around 250g each, or four larger portions at around 400g each - exact weight depends on how much liquid has evaporated overall) or 139 calories for a larger portion.

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