Thai veg soup

thai veg soup

Perfect, post-sickness bug food. (Thanks, Bert.)

Serves 2

Dash of sunflower or veg oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 small bunch coriander, chopped

100g spring greens, chopped

1 tin coconut milk

Salt to taste

3 white mushrooms, roughly chopped

Bert gets a sickness bug, is sick twice (and does about 20 jigsaws in between), has an afternoon nap and is then completely recovered. He passes it on to us and we’re floored for days.

God, we feel old.

To make the soup, saute the onion, garlic, spices and chopped coriander stalks till the onion’s translucent. Add the spring greens and coconut milk, season and simmer until tender before pureeing. Then add the mushrooms and return to the heat for another 5 minutes to cook the mushrooms through. Sprinkle on the chopped coriander leaves to serve.

Bert has tried this, and would probably eat it with a bit less chili, though the thought of his wild spooning plus the turmeric is a bit unnerving, immovable stains-wise.


Spring greens and beans

spring greens

I don’t normally blog Bert-less meals, but this soup was so delicious…

Serves 2

Tablespoon butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 courgette, roughly chopped

A couple of heads of spring greens – about 130g

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon seasalt

300ml chicken stock

1 x 265g can of flagolet beans

Melt the butter and fry the onion and garlic, allowing the butter to brown slightly to get a bit of a nutty flavour. Add the chopped veg, chili, stock and salt, and simmer for 5 minutes till tender. Very roughly blend, so there’s still good chunks of veg, then stir through the beans.

Eaten without the backdrop of a toddler’s obsessive Lion King (‘Didda Raaa!’) musings.

Chicken and butterbean casserole

Today Bert was Stunt Bert. He didn’t want to sit in his pram, he wanted to stand in it, untethered. He didn’t want to watch Peppa Pig on the sofa, he wanted to stand on the coffee table with his arms outstretched. He didn’t want to quietly eat cake with our friends, he wanted to ride in a plastic car, fast, grinning ear to ear, while we all watched through the glass patio doors and ate Rocky Road.

So this picture is a bit blurred. It wasn’t a sitting still kind of day.


Serves 3

4 boneless chicken thighs

1 dessert spoon butter

1 small onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

300ml chicken stock

1 can butter beans, drained

Zest of a lemon, grated

Salt and pepper, to taste

Green veg, chopped – we had two courgettes and some kale but green beans and peas would be nice

Fresh parsley, chopped

Fry the chicken thighs, skin down, in half of the butter until the skin is crisp. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in the rest of the butter then add the beans, lemon zest, seasoning and stock and season. Pop the chicken thighs skin side up on top, bring to a good simmer, put the lid on and cook at 180 for 45 minutes, or in a low oven for a couple of hours (always my choice since this is what the Aga does well). Add the veg in the last ten minutes. Stir through the chopped parsley (lots of it) before serving.

We had ours with home made bread and butter.

For pudding we had an orange and almond cake that Bert made from scratch himself. He took it very seriously. He made it sitting on the edge of a high worktop.

Eastern spiced chicken stew and dumplings

chicken stew

Serves 2.5 or 1.5 with leftovers

For the stew:

400g diced chicken thigh

Flour for browning the chicken – probably about 30g

1 teaspoon zaatar

1/2 teaspoon sumac (if you haven’t had an Yotam Ottolenghi phase you can substitute lemon zest for the sumac and a combination of dried oregano, cumin and marjoram for the zaatar)

A little olive oil

1 onion, thickly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 small carrots, cut into batons

Handful of greens, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

A low salt stock cube

200 ml water

For the dumplings:

50g self raising flour

50g breadcrumbs (looking to start my own breadcrumbs business soon)

50g suet

A good pinch of zaatar or other herbs

1 egg

Dust the chicken in the flour and herbs then brown in the olive oil in a hot pan. Transfer to a casserole dish and fry the onions and garlic in a little more oil, adding the carrot when they’re nearly cooked. Cook them in a fairly hot pan so the onions get a little charred. Add to the meat along with the rest of the veg (greens as small as you can get ’em – we mean to deceive here), the stock cube, any remaining flour and 200ml of water. That’s not much water, but thin gravy and babies are a wildly chaotic combination. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and cook in a low oven (140-160 degrees), or the Aga simmering oven, for around 2-3 hours.

The Aga’s actually good at this, since nothing ever dries out in the simmering oven. In a standard oven you may need to keep checking that it hasn’t dried out and adding a little water if so. On the other hand, you have the advantage of being able to cook chips, cook more than once in a 24 hour period, have crisp skin on your chicken…

For the dumplings, combine the dry ingredients then add most of the beaten egg. Hold a little back as you may not need it all. Gather into a dough, adding a bit more egg if you need it. Form into around 10 baby dumplings (about walnut sized) and keep in the fridge till you need them. Pop them in the casserole and put the lid back on when there’s about 15 – 20 minutes cooking time to go and they’ll steam in the heat. The dumplings are a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe and I’ve never felt the need to look elsewhere.

Dumplings aren’t that much more trouble than mash once you’ve taken into account the peeling and the mashing, but this would be nice with mash too (if equally inauthentic).

Cheesey greens pasta


Serves 1.5

Enough pasta for 1.5 – we had about 140g

1 dessert spoon plain flour

1 dessert spoon butter

250ml whole milk

100g parmesan, grated

Handful fresh mint, finely chopped

Black pepper

Mixture of greensĀ  – we had half a head of broccoli, a handful of baby spinach and a few leaves of bok choi

100g cubed pancetta, fried in olive oil till crisp (optional)

Put the pasta on to boil, adding the florets of broccoli when there’s around 7 minutes to go and the finely chopped leafy greens with just one or two minutes to go. Shred them both ways, as long strands will be treated with disdain.

Melt the butter and stir in the flour, then gradually add the milk till you have a thick white sauce. Stir in the mint, cheese and black pepper.

Combine the sauce and pasta, adding the pancetta for any die-hard meat eaters. Salt yours, particularly if you’re not adding salty pancetta.

There’s a rumour going round that babies love over-cooked broccoli. Not this one. I ate all ours, but the green and cheesey sauce was eaten with relish.