Monday, 2 December 2013
If you live in a part of the world where you receive regular snow in winter, you'll know what I mean when I say it's hard to pull out of of rut when you're driving. It's WAY easier to drive on snowy roads when you stick to the ruts that are already there. Trying to forge a new path requires that you drive up and OVER the ruts which can net some pretty wild results! The car doesn't respond to your firm steering corrections - those ruts take over and really, you're just along for the ride until you get over the hump.
I've been in a cooking rut these past few weeks, relying far too often on familiar no brainer soups to use up leftovers. No effort (just autopilot) sticking to the same old safe recipes. A rut so to speak. That's all fine and well on a particularly busy day (or even for a whole week when life takes a chaotic turn) but man, a whole month of same old same old? Blerk. It took a gentle prod from my daughter to snap me back to my senses. She asked ever so politely "I wonder what ELSE we could do with this leftover chicken broth"? Ummmm, you mean YOU don't want to eat that same old chicken stew either? A tentative squeak of a "not really" was all I needed to jack things up!
We abandoned all previous chicken soup versions and sought to shake it up in a big way. Predictable no more! Homemade chicken broth was the base, but there's nothing sedate and quietly soothing about this meal... After a right and proper fridge raid, we chopped and sautéed heaps of onions, kale and garlic which instantly lifted my spirits. Who can be cranky when the mouthwatering aroma of sautéed onions and garlic fills the kitchen? After adding red lentils to the fry pan (and a splash of wine before we covered it), we let that simmer and soften. To the chicken broth, we added homemade tomato sauce from the freezer, a generous quantity of fresh picked herbs from the windowsill, some honey to tame the acid and cooked carrots, brown rice, peas and kidney beans from the fridge (all leftovers). Then, cumin, curry and my husband's favorite hot sauce was added along with pasta. I tossed in a parmesan rind from the freezer once it was all cooked through and (just before serving), added a can of organic corn from the pantry and cooked chicken (also leftovers). An energizing, warming, flavourful and filling soup chock full of nutrients and fibre. A winner for certain!
Flash pictures are mandatory at this time of year... so sorry!