Tuesday, 13 January 2015


There is a lot of illness around at the moment I've never known anything like. I hate feeling under the weather, I think the term "man flu" was invented with me in mind. There is only one things for it! Its time to rustle up a huge pan of rustic homemade chicken and vegetable broth with a good old glug of red wine (for medicinal purposes of course). Packed full of carrots, kale, celery, mushrooms and beans, all you need is a couple of bowls of this pasta filled broth and you'll be back on your feet before you know it.

So this soup is packed full of the good stuff. The onions, celery and carrots are there to act as your soups base but all the other veg can be substituted if you wish. Add in more tasty root veg like parsnips or turnip if you wish and use other greens instead of the kale such as cabbage. It's up to what you like and what you can get your hands on really.

Any good Jewish mother will tell you that a good chicken broth will rid you of many an ailment hence the use of chicken stock in my soup. If your veggie then of course a good old veggie stock will work for you too. Try and use the best you can get hold off, you need the best when your poorly.

For the wine, leave it out if you don't drink alcohol and leave out the simmering stage below used to reduce it. You might want to add some additional herbs or spices to replace the flavor that's lost though. I think something warm but not spicy would work best, maybe cumin seeds or a touch or paprika. Have a look what you have and experiment. If you don't mind a glass of vino but aren't keen on red, replace it with white. I think that would still work well. Give it a try and find out for me!

Cannalini beans are so cheap and readily accessible in supermarkets now that they make a perfect addition to any broth or casserole. Lash them in and your done. You could mix it up with some butter beans instead or go all Mexican with some kidney beans. It's that simple to mix this up to your taste.

You may of seen people often advising you too keep a jar of miscellaneous broken bits of pasta for soups and this is the perfect example of why you should do this. All you need is a handful of any old odds and sods of pasta and away you go, sorted! If you don't any bits and bobs then just break up some spaghetti or bash some rigatoni up. What ever you use you want the pasta to be nice and small so its easy to eat with a spoon otherwise your going to make a right old mess.

Soups are always great to prepare as a slow cooker meal. When you get to the last simmer stage, transfer the broth to your slow cooker and leave it be for as long as you can resist dishing up a big bowl for yourself. The longer you leave it the more intense that chicken and wine flavor will become and the closer to food heaven you will get.

A smidge of parmesan and chopped basil on the top is all for an extra burst of fresh flavor. It's totally optional but it really does add that final bit of oompf. Here comes the recipe. Next time your feeling a little under the weather then give it a go (or ask someone to make it for you, well you are sick after all).

Chicken and Vegetable Broth

2 Diced Red Onions
2 Peeled And Chopped Carrots
3 Chopped Celery Sticks
250g Chopped Chestnut Mushrooms
4 Grated Garlic Cloves
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
250ml Red Wine
400g Drained Tin Cannellini Beans
300g Chopped Fresh Tomatoes
450ml Chicken Stock
Handfull Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves
Handfull Small Pasta Pieces
Handfull Kale
Salt And Pepper To Season
A Little Grating Of Parmesan

  1. In a large slightly oiled pan (it's got to be big enough to hold all the ingredients) throw in your onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic and fry until he onions are just beginning to soften and then add in the dried basil and red wine. Bring the wine up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until the wine has reduced by half (this can take up tohalf an hour so keep an eye on it).
  2. Next, add in the beans, tomatoes, stock and fresh basil leaves (keep some of the basil leaves for garnish later) and bringback to the boil before simmering for 15 minutes. Throw in the pasta and kale and stir until the kale has wilted. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Dish out into bowls and garnish with the leftover fresh chopped basil and grate over a smidge of parmesan.
Butter yourself two warm crusty rolls for dipping and tuck into your lully bowl of soup. You'll need something to mop up every last drop of this beautiful broth.
The meld of the chicken stock, wine and all those vibrant herbs and vegetables will blast away all your cobwebs and you'll be bouncing out of bed the next day ready to face the world again in no time.

The ultimate "sort yourself out" soup

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