Chestnut and chorizo soup

This is one of those homely and rustic Spanish soups that’s just perfect for a family lunch over the holidays. Make sure you buy an extra bag of chestnuts for your Christmas store cupboard, keep some chorizo in the chiller drawer draw and you’ll be able to whip up a big pan of this in no time. Serve with crusty bread and a cheeky glass of red! 

chestnut and chorizo soup
  • 4 tablespoons of light olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 120g cooking chorizo, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed into a paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g pack of vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1-litre chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper

To make…

  • Prep the chopped veg, chorizo and chestnuts.
  • Warm the oil in a large saucepan. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery with the chorizo and a pinch of salt. Fry it for about 20 minutes or so until everything becomes golden and caramelised. Don’t skimp on this part as this is where the flavour comes from. 
  • Next, add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, thyme and chilli – stir for a minute.
  • Add the tomato and then the chestnuts, stir for a couple of minutes and then add the stock. 
  • Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and mash the soup by hand with a potato masher. This will make it smooth but retain the rustic texture. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve in warmed bowls with a nice chunk of sourdough bread. 

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Chennai chicken curry

The star ingredient in this curry is the fenugreek in my Chennai spice mix; the method of cooking onions and then adding ginger, garlic and chilli paste with some thick yoghurt before the other ingredients is the one I picked up as a student from my Asian flatmate’s Mum. Once you master that classic technique, you can make up any number of variations for stunning curry dishes of your own. I’ve used chicken here but lamb would work just as well. It’s spicy but not hot so feel free to crank up the chilli content if you like it hotter – it’s great made ahead and reheated and the sauce freezes well. I serve it with basmati rice made fragrant with some cumin seeds and a couple of black cardamom pods in the cooking water and dark greens such as wilted spinach. 

Chennai chicken curry

Serves 6

Chennai curry powder

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 medium cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric

Chennai curry

  • 1 pack of 12 skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into two pieces. 
  • Curry base: 1 medium red chilli, 3 garlic cloves, 3cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml chicken stock (I use a gel stockpot)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp thick Greek yoghurt
  • Fresh coriander and/or crisp fried shallots to garnish

To make…

  • Heat the oil in a sauté pan and gently cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they soft and caramelised – this takes about 30 minutes but requires nothing more than the odd stir. 
  • Meanwhile, make the curry powder. Add all the ingredients to a spice grinder except the turmeric. Grind to a fine powder, pour it into a small bowl and stir in the turmeric. 
  • Next, make the curry base. Roughly chop the chilli, garlic and ginger and blend them into a paste with a splash of water in a small food processor. 
  • Turn the oven on to 140°C.
  • Once the onions are ready, add the curry powder and curry base. Mix thoroughly and then gradually stir in the yoghurt. Next, add the tomatoes, bay leaf, tomatoes, tamarind paste and chicken stock. Stir again. You could leave this to cook out for half an hour, allow it to cool and refrigerate or freeze to use later or proceed straight to the next stage.
  • Add the pieces of chicken to the sauce, transfer it to a flame-proof casserole and cook in the oven for 40 minutes. The sauce should be thick and spicy, the chicken tender. Check the seasoning – you may want to add a little more salt or black pepper but you don’t need to do this until the end. Scatter with freshly chopped coriander and crisp shallots. 

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

  • To get the latest #TheFridayRecipe from the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen blog, just add your email address to the subscribe box at the top right-hand column of the website. 
  • Follow me on Twitter @pigeoncottage,  on Instagram at Pigeon Cottage Kitchen, and the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen page on Facebook.
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Steak and green vegetable stir fry

If you live in a town with easy access to takeaway deliveries, you may not feel the need to make your own Saturday night Chinese supper. For me, this homemade steak stir fry is just as easy, certainly as tasty if not better, and definitely a cheaper alternative. You could serve it with rice or noodles but this is a great low-carb supper if you don’t and it is very filling. Perfect for a night in watching Strictly!

steak stir fry

Serves 2

  • 1 x large rump steak
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • I large green pepper
  • 6 pieces of tender stem broccoli
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 8 green beans
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli – seeds removed and thinly sliced

Sauce

  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 x 3cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 1 dessertspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 dessertspoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of oyster sauce 
  • 2 tbsps plum chutney (I use my homemade red plum, lime, and coriander) or shop bought such as Gressingham Plum and Hoisin sauce. 

To make…

  • To prepare the steak, marinate it in the soy sauce, sprinkle with the five-spice powder, and set aside on a plate for half an hour.
  • Next, make the sauce by simply mixing all the ingredients above in a small bowl and set it aside so that the flavours can develop.
  • In a very hot wok-shaped frying pan, add a touch of oil and quickly sear the steak for a couple of minutes on each side and set aside on a carving board to rest.
  • Add a little more oil to the pan and quickly stir fry the vegetables – pepper, celery, onion, broccoli, red chilli and beans. Next, stir in the sauce and allow to cook through for another 4 minutes or so. 
  • To serve, turn the sauced vegetables onto 2 warmed plates. Quickly slice the steak into strips and scatter them over the vegetables – it should still be a little pink. 

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

  • To get the latest #TheFridayRecipe from the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen blog, just add your email address to the subscribe box at the top right-hand column of the website. 
  • Follow me on Twitter @pigeoncottage,  on Instagram at Pigeon Cottage Kitchen, and the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen page on Facebook.
  • Click on the link to get your very own copy of my family recipe book, Whats4teaMum?
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