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Chicken and Spring Vegetable Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts (preferably organic)
6 cups chicken stock (salt-reduced if not homemade)
2 tbs olive oil
1 large leek, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
20g frozen peas, thawed
1 fresh corn cob, kernels removed
1 medium head broccoli
100g sugar snap peas or asparagus
1 cup fresh mixed herbs- basil, chives, parsley, mint, thyme, chervil or tarragon.

Method:

Poach chicken in 2 cups of chicken stock. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from stock and reserve stock for use in the soup.

In a large saucepan with a lid, heat 1 tbs oil over medium heat. Add leek and cook for 2-3 minutes. Cover and allow to gently simmer for a further 2 minutes. The leek will release a liquid and sweat a little, which will soften and sweeten it.

Add zucchini and lemon zest. Stir through and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add peas and corn, then stir-fry for a minute or so before adding the stock and lemon juice. Cover with a lid and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Shred the chicken breasts, chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces, and string the sugar snap peas. Trim the asparagus and chop the herbs.

Now add the broccoli and the chicken to the soup. Simmer for 2 minutes before adding the sugar snap peas/asparagus and fresh herbs. Stir through for a final minute to slightly blanch the sugar snap peas/asparagus. You want the green vegetables to retain their nutrients and a nice crunch.
Season generously with cracked black pepper and serve.

Hearty Shitake and Miso Soup

1 bunch shallots, sliced thin, white and green parts separated
1 x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
8 cups water
3 x 6-inch pieces kombu (a dried kelp / seaweed available from health food stores)
1/4 cup bonito flakes (Japanese dried fish)
85g dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup light miso
1/2 kg baby bok choy, cut in quarters
250g firm tofu, cut into cubes

Method:

In a large soup pot over medium heat add the white parts of the shallots, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.

Cook for 1 minute and add 8 cups water.

Rinse the kelp and add it to the pot along with the bonito flakes. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes – do not let it boil.

Remove the kelp and set it aside.

Add the dried mushrooms and miso to the pot and let it simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are hydrated and tender.

Add the bok choy and simmer until it is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the tofu and cook for another 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with the reserved green parts of the shallots.

Gourmet Lentil Soup

The lentils need to be soaked overnight- see below This soup can also be easily adapted to a vegetarian meal. Just omit the pancetta and swap the chicken stock for a gutsy vegetable stock.

Ingredients

1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup green lentils
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil 2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
200g thinly sliced flat pancetta
1 tbsp chopped sage
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
100ml white wine
1.5L (6 cups) chicken stock
400g can chopped tomatoes (no added sugar or salt) or equivalent fresh ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
optional: organic sour cream to serve
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Method

1. Soak the red and green lentils in plenty of cold water overnight (12 hours) with the tablespoon of vinegar.

2. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 5-8 minutes or until softened but not brown.

3. Meanwhile chop all but 8 slices of pancetta and add to the pan along with the sage, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute for another 10 minutes or until pancetta has released some of its fat and the vegetables are soft.

4. Add the drained lentils to the pan. Pour in the wine, increase heat to medium-high and cook for another 5 minutes or until the liquid is completely evaporated.

5. Add chicken stock and chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, then skim any foamy stuff from the surface. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender, then season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and white balsamic.

6. Place reserved pancetta in a cold frying pan over high heat, then sizzle for 3-5 minutes. Turn pancetta and remove from heat. leave in the hot pan to crisp.

7. Ladle the lentil soup into serving bowls, then top with organic sour cream (if using), chopped parsley and the crisp slices of pancetta. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

8. Tuck in!