Tag Archives: soul food

An A+ Soup with Chinese Noodles (chicken, spinach, lime) – Serves 8

I got home at 7pm last night and we were eating this soup in 45 minutes (granted I worked in the kitchen like a speed demon!). This was another case of knowing I would be home late but not wanted to waste money ordering out (not to mention the food wouldn’t be as good and all of that paper and plastic waste from containers, utensils and napkins!).

A+ Soup

A+ Soup

This is an amazing meal and satisfies all kinds of hunger, from the person who wants lots of food to the person who has a longing for something restorative and healing (like my daughter who was getting over a tummy bug).

A few ingredients made this dish stand out for me: lime juice, thin vegetable-laden broth and the addition of fresh Chinese-Style noodles (below).

These Chinese Style Noodles worked great with this soup

These Chinese Style Noodles worked great with this soup

I try my best to keep fresh wonton skins, egg-roll wrappers or these noodles in my fridge. They can be found in the cold fridge in the veggie section of most supermarkets. They are fresh, floury, light, and delicious for all kinds of dishes. They have an expiration date so I always grab a packet from the back with the longest expiry date. Last night they were the perfect thing to bolster the thin broth.

If you decide to make this, and have some leftover, keep the noodles in a container separate from the soup and add to the reheated soup cold, (the residual heat will warm them up nicely). At least that is what my plan is for lunch today!

Just wanted to show you more of what is growing in my garden at the monent: lovely chives

Just wanted to show you more of what is growing in my garden at the moment: lovely chives (they would also make a great garnish for this soup)

* This is a very good Blood Type A Diet recipe. if you are very strict or a sensitive “A” omit the cayenne pepper flakes*

You will need:

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb chicken breast, very thinly sliced

1 medium onion (sweet or yellow)

2 celery ribs, including leaves, diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 sprig fresh rosemary (left whole)

1 cup shredded or matchstick carrots

1 bunch scallions, including green part (green onions), sliced

10 or so medium shiitake mushrooms, caps thinly sliced

4 cups baby spinach leaves (or regular spinach – chopped)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes

10 cups veggie or chicken broth (or 12 good quality bouillon cube and water)

juice of 1 lime (or about 3 tbs)

sea-salt to taste

Method:

1 – Put large soup pot on medium heat and add the oil. when it has warmed, add the onions, garlic and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pepper flakes.

Saute onions and celery, add chili flakes

Saute onions and celery, add chili flakes

2 – Add the carrots and rosemary and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

Add carrots and rosemary

Add carrots and rosemary

3 – Next add the sliced mushrooms and scallions and continue to cook for another 3 or so minutes.

add mushrooms and scallions

Add mushrooms and scallions

4 – Add the broth (or water and bouillon cube) and turn heat to high. When the liquid comes to a boil, add the chicken and stir.

add liquid, then chicken

Add liquid, then chicken

5 – Add the spinach leaves (or chopped spinach) and bring back to a boil. When it begins to boil, turn the heat down and bring soup to a slight simmer. Cover with lid and simmer for about 12 minutes. Turn heat off and add the lime juice. Taste for addition of salt or pepper. Stir and replace lid. Let the soup sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Add spinach

Add spinach

6 – While the soup is sitting put a big pot of water on to boil (boils faster with a lid!) and when it is boiling cook fresh noodles according to instructions. Drain and rinse well with cold water and set aside.

*this brand says it takes 3 minutes to cook, but I found they were cooked in 2 minutes. I’d advise checking the noodles earlier than the cooking time stated in the instructions*

Put some noodles into bottom of bowl

Put some noodles into bottom of bowl

To serve, place a portion of noodles in the bottom of a soup bowl (as much or as little as you like) and ladle the soup over them.

Add Soup

Add Soup

Some of us add a swirl of sriracha sauce to the soup which gave it an additional bite of heat.

Add hot sauce if you like (we like Sriracha Sauce)

Add hot sauce if you like (we like Sriracha Sauce)

June’s Famous Chicken Dinner!

I am missing my sisters back home in Ireland, and thinking about all the lovely food we cooked together. It is many months since my leaving and now there is a hole in my life. I am already plotting on how to see them again as soon as possible.

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Beautiful fields of Rape Flowers close to our house in Ireland

I love every aspect of cooking a meal, from the planning, to the more menial tasks like washing dirt off the potatoes. I find I am the most comfortable when I work alone or rather, it is nice being by myself not feeling lonely at all. That is not to say I don’t like activity while I am getting on with things. Mostly it is quite the opposite, and the din of family and friends coming in and out, or parking themselves for the duration on a chair and chatting with me through the entire process is when I have had my most memorable conversations. 

June's roasted potatoes

June’s roasted potatoes

There is an easiness that comes with cooking and the energy in the kitchen permeates through the entire house, sets the tone. That is why I find it so hard to understand why people choose take-out/away food over something that you can make yourself? When food is brought home in a bag or plastic containers you have missed out on the lovely clatter in the kitchen and the smells that put you in a good mood, that draw everyone together.

June's Roast Chicken with Bread Stuffing

June’s Roast Chicken with Bread Stuffing

Yes, of course there are days that I long for a little cardboard takeout box, complete with the narrow metal handle full of spicy Szechuan chicken, or the big corrugated square housing a pizza with everyone’s favorite toppings on its various quarters. What I’m saying is when I think about food, what comes to mind, is a roasted chicken being pulled from the oven, or the smell that comes from a pot of soup making my taste buds crazy for a taste… for a bite of something. The whole act of cooking creates an atmosphere that a take-out box just cannot compete with!

June making Pizza

June making Pizza

There is not a doubt in my mind that everyone can think of a person  that instantly conjures up the image of a dish that you uniquely associate with them. Sometimes it is the dish you think of first, and then you realize that you are missing someone, and craving their food and their company. I am sitting here on this weekend morning and I swear I can smell June’s Famous Chicken Dinner.

Famous Chicken Dinner

Famous Chicken Dinner

It was dubbed Famous Chicken Dinner by my son a couple of years ago and it is how we request it when we visit. She cannot understand why we attach so much importance to it? When she roasts a whole chicken, this is how it turns out. It is one of her standards and has never been thought of as anything but ordinary, and certainly not something she would dream of making if she was having people over for dinner.

another June Dinner

Another June Dinner

The thing is, she is unaware that when she makes something that is so familiar, so effortless to her, she has ended up perfecting something. She has unconsciously over the years worked out all the kinks in this dish, tweaking the amounts of butter, or salt and changing the herb mix until she got it the way she liked it the best. She did this, and then she left it, because it was perfect and needed no more fussing over. She will laugh if she reads this, but I know I am right. I know that if she made it for me right now, there would be no surprises. It would be exactly what I wanted, and if she changed something because she felt maybe having company meant doing things differently to make it special, she would regret it and wished she had left well enough alone.

The river Barrow at Milford, County Carlow

The river Barrow at Milford, County Carlow, a so familiar place to me

I have never asked for the recipe, which is an odd thing for me. I know it is just a stuffed roasted chicken with carrot and parsnip mash, roasted potatoes and a herby sauce made from the pan drippings, but I think it would be impossible to replicate. It would be just like my trying to master my mother’s stuffing, something I attempt to do each Christmas, and each time fail. I fail to capture that essence that made it taste the way it did. I believe there are some dishes that contain a soul, and this one happens to have June’s. I don’t know if there is a recipe for that.

June's roses

June’s roses