Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 25 August 2014

Seasonal Recipe: Spicy Chicken and Peanut Soup


Last week the weather turned a little cooler so NAH and I had the following conversation:

Me: I think I'll make some soup for lunch - I can use up that chicken carcass for starters.

NAH: (Pulling a face) Er, not for me please, I like the homemade bread we've been having lately.

Me: Why that face?

NAH: Well, haven't you noticed I give you most of the carrots when we have it? I'm not that keen. (The soup he's referring to is similar to the turkey leftovers soup I blogged about years ago)

Me: (Surprised face) So I've been making this soup for 30 years and it's only now you tell me you don't really like it?

NAH: (trying hard to make me feel better) It's OK if it's got leeks in it...

Me: I'll see what I can do...

I then dredged up a memory of a meal I cooked as a student about 35 years ago. It was a spicy dish called West African chicken and peanut stew where most of the vegetables were disguised in some way. I didn't have some of the remembered ingredients to hand, so I devised a soup using some of the glut vegetables we have hanging around.

The result? A huge thumbs up from NAH :)
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Cook's notes:

I started this recipe the night before we were going to eat the result by making the chicken stock.

If you don't have a chicken carcass, then use a chicken stock cube made up to 1 litre, or fresh/frozen chicken stock if you have it. If you start with any of these, then this recipe can be made on the day of eating. However, you'll miss the pleasure of finding pieces of chunky chicken in your soup.

Vegetarians can use a vegetable stock cube or stock instead, omit the chicken and substitute some shelled, chopped unsalted peanuts to taste.

Serves 4 people generously. If you want to make the stew version for a main meal, then this is the closest online recipe I can find to my memory of the meal I created as a student. NB the linked recipe serves 8 and you can serve it with rice or couscous.

I also like the idea of using coconut milk as a variation to this recipe. Let the experimentation continue!
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Ingredients
  • 1 small chicken carcass (the size that's provided 4 portions for previous meals)
  • Water - approx 1 litre
  • 1 large onion - roughly chopped
  • 1 medium to large potato - cubed (or sweet potato if you have it - this is more like the original recipe)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • A half inch square cube of fresh ginger - peeled and chopped
  • Enough fresh red chill to give the amount of heat you like - in my case this is one chilli of medium heat, with the seeds removed and the rest chopped
  • 10 medium sized fresh tomatoes (or a 14 oz tin of plum tomatoes) - I leave the skins on when using fresh tomatoes, but you don't have to
  • Half a cucumber, sliced (or the equivalent amount of courgette, squash, carrots or greens depending on what's available and in season)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One heaped tablespoon of peanut butter - smooth or crunchy. I prefer crunchy as this gives a nice texture to the finished soup
  • A handful of chopped, fresh coriander (optional)
Method

For the chicken stock:
  1. Place the chicken carcass in a large pan and add enough water to just about cover the bones
  2. Cover the pan and bring to the boil on the stove, then turn the heat down to simmer for around half an hour
  3. Turn off the heat and leave to cool
  4. When cool, or the next day, skim the stock's surface to remove the fat. If the chicken has lived a good life, there won't be that much to remove
  5. Strip the chicken from the carcass's bones and leave to one side, Dispose of the bones in your usual way
  6. The stock and chicken can be cooled and kept in the fridge for a couple of days at this point if making the soup later
Alternatively, if you are using a stock cube, make this up to a litre with boiling water, add to a large pan and then continue to the next stage.

To make the soup:
  1. Heat the stock in a large pan and add the onion, potato, garlic, ginger, chilli, tomatoes and cucumber
  2. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. It's best to err on the cautious side with the salt at this stage as there will be some added later via the peanut butter. Note the soup will taste spicier at this stage than the finished result, so don't panic!
  3. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly
  5. With a stick blender, blend the soup into a smooth, non-lumpy liquid
  6. Start to reheat the soup, then stir in the peanut butter. Ensure this is thoroughly incorporated into the liquid - there should be no lumps except for the crunchy bits if using crunchy peanut butter
  7. Add the reserved chicken
  8. Add half the fresh coriander and simmer for 5 minutes to ensure the chicken is heated through thoroughly
  9. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with the rest of the coriander scattered over to garnish
Bon appetit!

8 comments:

  1. Now that sounds good as well as appropriate for the unseasonable weather. We had soup on Saturday but I must confess that it came out of a tin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *whispers* we love tinned tomato soup :-)

      Delete
  2. How sweet that he never mentioned he's not keen on the soup with carrots! This sounds like a good recipe, I'd do the vegetarian version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've had my BIL and family to stay for the weekend - they'd go for the vegetarian version too

      Delete
  3. Sounds delicious - and I've got some chicken bones in the freezer waiting to be made into stock...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy - I was thinking of you whilst I was sorting out the ingredients list. I haven't forgotten your tip that they should be in the order used

      Delete
  4. Sounds delicious. I was thinking of making soup myself this weekend, but thought I should hold out. Surely there will be more sunshine yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there will be eventually Colleen. We've been enjoying the soupless summer months too

      Delete

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