This year, I have been diligent in preparing our meals over the weekend before the start of a work week. Rather than getting takeaway pizzas or my guilty-pleasure – fast food burgers and chips, we have decided that these should be a “luxury” rather than a “necessity”. In addition, we want to explore the local restaurants in Orange. Therefore most of our dining out budget has gone to that instead of takeaways. Most people would agree that this is a wise decision eh? *wink*
Some of my do-ahead dishes have been shared on the blog.
(Clockwise from top left)
- Japanese Chicken & Vegetable Curry
- Chicken Biryani (Using A Rice Cooker)
- Easy Slow-Cooked (Crockpot) Coconut Chicken Curry
- Minced Chicken & Potato Curry
- 3 Ingredients Pumpkin Soup
- Slow-Cooked Beef Ragu Pasta
As you can see these dishes can stand the test of time i.e. the flavours develops as the time goes. All the above dishes except for the chicken biryani are quite effortless considering the quantity I have to make.
Since they are on a constant rotation for the year, I though it is time to add a new dish (soup) to the list. It is a smoked chicken and red lentil soup – a recipe by Matthew Evans. According to Matthew, it is a twist to a pea and ham soup recipe which I thought was very clever!
Smoked Chicken, Quinoa & Red Lentil Soup
(recipe tweaked from The Real Food Companion by Matthew Evans)
What you’ll need to for 6 servings:-
- 500g smoked chicken thighs
- 1 x one litre salt reduced chicken stock
- 1 litre hot water
- 1 + 1/2 cups red lentils
- 1/2 cup red quinoa
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
Garnish: olive oil, chopped fresh parsley and freshly milled black pepper
Remove the skin and debone the smoked chicken thighs. Reserve the bones to cook with the stock. Diced the flesh and side aside.
Add chicken stock, hot water and the bones in a 3 litres pot. Cover the pot with a lid and allow the stock over high heat until it starts to boil. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure the stock does not boil over. When the stock is boiling, add red lentils and quinoa and allow the mixture to cook over low-medium heat (with a lid tilted at an angle on the pot to prevent the stock from overflowing) until the lentils are soften and mushy, resembling porridge. Add more water if necessary as the cooking progresses .
Then stir in the frozen sweet corn and diced chicken. Make sure you stir the bottom to make sure the mushy lentils do not stick. Continue cooking the soup until it reaches boiling point again and it is done. Add more water if you want a runnier consistency. Garnish with parsley, black pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil. Boy, it was so good with warm crusty bread!
This book talks about the food philosophy of one degree of separation and to raise awareness on how food is made and grown. According to Matthew, the ideal is to be one step away from the source of your produce. However, practically. the closest thing to achieve this is to shop at local farmers’ markets. I am still reading through the book but his lentil soup recipe really stood out to me. For those who embarked on this food philosophy, the actual recipe from his book is as follows:-
Smoked Chicken & Red Lentil Soup
(Recipe from The Real Food Companion by Matthew Evans)
Ingredients for 6 servings:-
- 375g (13 oz/ 1.5 cups) red lentils
- 1 x 800g (1 lb 12 oz) good quality smoked chicken
- 1 onion, roughly chopped, plus 1 small onion, extra, finely chopped
- 2 button mushrooms
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 black peppercorns
- 20g (3/4 oz) butter
- 1 leek, white part only, rinsed and finely chopped
- 2 tbsps chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, to serve
and 3+ hours cooking time
Put the lentils in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover. Set aside to soak while you get the other things together. It is not really necessary to soak the lentils, but does speed up the soup later.
Pull the meat from the chicken, reserving the carcass, and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Place the carcass, onion, mushrooms, carrot, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns in a saucepan. Pour in 2 litres (7 fl oz/ 8 cups) water or enough to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down to a simmer. Skim the surface to remove any scum that forms and simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, discarding the bones and vegetables.
Heat the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat and fry the leek and extra onion for about 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the drained lentils and 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/ 6 cups) of the chicken stock – top up with water if you need more stock.
Simmer the soup gently for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft, and the soup has the consistency of really runny porridge. Add the chicken meat and simmer for 2 minutes to heat through.
Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste and garnish with parsley to serve.