I thought it was time to start blogging about food, I thought an independent blog might be the thing to do. One of my reasons for blogging is son no.2 will be off to uni in a couple of years time and you never know, son no.1 might leave home, well in the next thirty years, so I thought it might be nice to have a written record of some of my recipes, just in case they want to recreate something that mum used to make.
I always try to cook as seasonally as possible, however we do need to import food in the winter months in this country. I don’t really agree with strawberries in December, but somehow imported bananas seem okay. I’m not going to make any statements about what is right and what is wrong, I would like to say we only eat organic free range chicken, but that is simply not the case, maybe it will be when I am no longer feeding teenage boys on a daily basis.
Soup has always been a passion of mine, from enjoying home made chicken and vegetable soups on a Monday evening made from the carcasses of chickens from Sunday lunch. (we always had two chickens, there were seven of us) Nans homemade lamb and pearl barley broth/stew/soup, which she always seemed to have on the go on a slow simmer on the coke stove in the kitchen. It certainly fitted the bill in the ice cold winters we used to have, it had lovely glistening yellow globs of fat in and homegrown, straight out of the garden earthy sweet carrots and swede. At the age of 10 my class were taught how to make French Onion soup or at least a version of it, we were not allowed to bring alcohol to school at that age! It was delicious. To me a pan of homemade soup bubbling on the stove is a very reassuring loving thing. The first occasion I was invited to hubbys home with a group of friends after a few sherberts down the local hostelry, he certainly had no intention of feeding guests that evening, but whilst whipping up a chow mein he offered me a bowl of homemade sweetcorn and ginger soup which he had made from scratch, stock included. It was absolutely delicious, lets just say I was very impressed. My food passions change but in one way or another I always come back to soup. So it seems fitting to start my blog with a soup recipe.
Firstly, save your chicken carcasses, place them in a carrier bag and pop them in the freezer, they quickly mount up. My preserving pan which I use as a stock pot takes about five to six chicken carcasses to make a huge amount of stock, which I then freeze.
To make chicken stock, for me anyway, I just use chicken carcasses and water, you can add onion, carrots etc to the pan, but I don’t. I just like the pure flavour of the chicken. You can off course cheat, there is a liquid chicken stock which is very good, I think its a little salty and is quite expensive, but if it inspires you to make homemade soup, well, that can only be a good thing. So to make your own, bring your chicken carcasses and water to the boil and simmer very gently for the longer the better, two hours is a minimum, four would be better. Strain through a sieve.
I think you need twice the amount of leeks to potato, its not an exact science, I just tend to know when its about right. Some recipes call for half and half, food is about what you like to eat, so feel free to change the recipe.
Todays recipe has an extra treat of using my home grown leeks and potatoes.
The ingredients were,
1lb 10 oz of trimmed and washed leeks.
13 oz of peeled potatoes
2 pints of chicken stock
1/2 pint of milk (today it was semi-skimmed but use full fat or skimmed, its fine)
2 oz butter
salt and pepper
Trim the leeks leaving about an inch or so of dark green, then slice them and fill a sink full of water and wash them, popping as many of the rings out as you can, this is to ensure there is no dirt or grit left in them. Dry the leeks and gently fry them in the butter.
When they are soft add the potatoes which you have diced up into 1 inch chunks and the stock and simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked, whiz with a hand blender or mash them as finely as you can, some people leave it quite rough, which can be very nice too.
Add the milk and season to taste, its probably better to use white pepper, but if you don’t have any it just means you will have black specks in your soup. Then reheat gently, do not boil after you have added the milk, if you do accidentally boil the soup, its not the end of the world it just means that it will look a little curdled, it will still taste the same.
You could make this with cream or you could make a skinny version, you do need a little bit of butter though, it does make a difference to the flavour.