I’m Sick Soup

We’ve all just come down with our first colds of the season and we’re just a couple of weeks past Labor Day. It’s all due to my renewed efforts to make it to actual classes at the gym – when the childcare is crowded – rather than just doing my own (less effective) thing during the quiet mid-afternoon. So much for that. Exercise tips for someone with practically the whole gym at her disposal but no workout buddy are welcome. Cardio’s sorted but my own strength & toning workouts have nothing on Pump & Barre Dynamic classes!

Anyway, so here we all are with the sniffles and I really felt like some healthy soup for dinner but really didn’t want to go to the shops – or, in fact, anywhere at all. So after raiding my fridge and pantry, this soup was the result. It turned out remarkably well considering that I made it up on the spot with head congestion clouding my senses. Not to mention my lack of experience with fennel, an ingredient I’ve been meaning to use more of since it’s nearly always available here and those TV chefs are always going on about how great it is. Turns out it’s pretty great!

I added diced fennel bulb to the classic mirepoix in place of some of the celery and also used the fine fronds as a herb in my soup. The fennel complimented the flavours in the chorizo perfectly. It really made the soup something special, adding a freshness to balance out the richness of the chorizo and the heartiness of the lentils and brown rice.

Essentially this is a pretty healthy soup, with the chorizo being the ‘spoonful of sugar’ in this instance. The brown rice and lentils are a great combination, together providing additional complete protein. They also make it a hearty and filling meal in itself.

The chorizo I used wasn’t overly high in fat, but if yours is you can always drain off or spoon out any excess rendered oil before adding the mirepoix. But be sure to retain enough to enhance the flavour of the soup! This particular chorizo was quite spicy with black pepper and chilli flakes added along with the classic spices such as paprika. If your chorizo lacks heat and you like it hot – as I do – then add few shakes of dried chilli flakes. The heat factor is totally optional, but is great for clearing out blocked sinuses! Some also claim it boosts the metabolism. Chorizo varies a lot; mine was the fully cooked kind, which holds its shape when sliced and cooked. If your preferred chorizo is uncooked, it may not hold together well once the casings are removed, frying up more like mincemeat, but this is absolutely fine and better than having the chewy sausage casings in your soup.

I advise using low sodium broth and tomatoes because of the salt in the chorizo. You can always add more at the end if necessary, but go easy at first. I added just enough to sweat the mirepoix without it browning and didn’t need to add any more. I also advise using fresh garlic rather than the pre-crushed garlic in a tube or jar; though convenient it can be overly strong and often slightly bitter. I think it could easily overpower this soup.

You can of course cut the chicken a big bigger if you like. I tried to keep all the pieces fairly small for consistency (in both senses 🙂 and for quick cooking. Approximately 45 minutes simmering time over a low heat seemed to produce a good result in terms of softness and development of flavour, but you may be able to get away with as little as 30 minutes. This is meant to be a hearty soup, thick with ingredients, but if you accidentally over-reduce it, just add a little water and heat through.

Although it didn’t offer an instant miracle cure for our colds, this soup was just what I felt like; tasty, nutritious and warming. A bowl of this will definitely make you feel good inside.

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    Chicken, Chorizo, Lentil & Brown Rice Soup
    (aka ‘I’m Sick’ Soup)

Serves 6

Ingredients

• 4 Chorizo, (~340g, gluten free if required), casings removed, sliced/chopped
• 1 small chicken breast, cut into 1/2″ (1cm) cubes and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper & paprika
• 6 cups low sodium chicken broth (check for gluten free if required)
• 1 can (~400g) no-added-salt chopped tomatoes
• 1can (~400g) lentils, drained and rinsed
• 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
• 1 red onion, 1 carrot, 1 small or 1/2 stick celery, 1 fennel bulb, all finely chopped
• fennel fronds, finely chopped
• 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1tsp lemon juice (or squeeze
1/2 a lemon)
• ~3tbs Extra Virgin olive oil
• salt & pepper to taste

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Method

• Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or cast iron casserole over a med-high heat.
• Sauté chorizo until lightly browned and slightly crispy around the edges.
• Add the diced chicken and quickly seal/lightly brown.
• Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the meat and set aside. Lower heat to Med.
• Add diced onion, fennel, carrot & celery with a good pinch of salt (~1/2 tsp) and black pepper. Soften without browning for about 5 minutes.
• Add garlic and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
• Deglaze the pan with the white wine and scrape up any remaing brown bits from sautéing the meat.
• Add the canned tomatoes with all of their juice. Half fill the empty can with water to pick up remaining tomato juices and add water to pan.
• Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, lentils, cooked brown rice and 3/4 of the fresh herbs. Stir and bring to a simmer.
• Cover, lower heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The ingredients should all be well softened and the rice plumped up.
• Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, turn off heat and stir through remaining fresh herbs (or reserve for garnish if desired).
• Can also serve garnished with oven baked olive oil, salt & pepper croutons if desired.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cooking Up The Pantry
    Sep 17, 2014 @ 03:47:17

    This looks yummy! I love using fennel too.

    Reply

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