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Fodmap Friendly Chicken Stock

Fodmap Friendly Chicken Stock

Fodmap Friendly Chicken Stock

When I tell people about fodmaps, they all always without fail tell you how they couldn’t live with onion or garlic. And yet neither of those are things I miss at all. Yes, it’s a pain the proverbials not to be able to eat them but I don’t crave either.

I would however sell a kidney (and this means something. My kidneys are one of the few bits of my body to work perfectly) to eat a ripe crunchy apple. And I miss soup so much it feels like an actual grief.

Technically there are lots of things I can still make soup with so you’d think this was slight melodrama, but the issue is the stock itself. Everyone makes stock with onions and celery and thus I can’t eat it. I can absolutely never order soup when I’m eating out and I can’t even reliably use stock cubes or pre bought stock at home because of the dreaded onion powder issue.

I’ve been working on a version of homemade chicken stock for months and still every bowl of soup I ate made me feel dreadful. When the Monash Fodmap App updated most recently on my phone, I discovered celery is in the amber category and it all became clear.

Because fodmaps aren’t confusing enough with all the different types, they are also dependent on portion sizing as to whether they are suitable for you or not. So for some people even a small amount of wheat or garlic is instantly problematic but with other items you have to exceed a certain serving size to have an issue.

And celery falls into that camp. A 1/4 of a stalk is considered safe and low fodmap. So if you add a stick of celery to a pasta sauce for four people there’s no issue. But because fodmaps are water soluble, if you add two whole sticks of celery to a litre of stock, you end up with fodmap overload.

This explained why stock has still been pushing my fodmap buttons no matter what I did. It was that pesky celery. I hadn’t realised because I’d rather eat cat food than raw celery and when I use it as a sofritto, portion sizing kept it safe.

So how do you make chicken stock that tastes of something if you can’t use onions or celery? You get creative and you use all the fodmap tricks you can. Another little fodmap cheat is that the green bit of spring onions and leeks are safe. Button mushrooms aren’t suitable, but shiitakes (ie porcini) are. And you fall back in love with celeriac.

This knobbly bobbly root veg is the magic ingredient for the depth you need in a stock when you’re so restricted. All the celery fun with none of the pain and discomfort. It is my new best friend in the kitchen.

And my other secret weapon is MSG powder. I know lots of people say it causes all kinds of issues, but the Chinese use it in everyday cooking as we use many umami flavours here and it adds real depth with minimum fuss I find. Try it and I think you’ll be surprised and pleased.

Fodmap Friendly Chicken Stock (makes 1.5 litres)

  • 1 roast chicken carcass
  • 150g chicken wings or extra chicken bones from thighs
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 100g celeriac, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, green part only or 1 leek, green only
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG powder (sold as Chinese salt often)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 litres of cold water

I always always always make my stock in the slow cooker because stock is best simmered very slowly for a long time and that’s basically the whole reason for the slow cooker.

But my friend Carolyne makes amazing chicken stock on the lowest heat on her cooker left for 24 hours in a Le Creuset oval pan with the lid on and simmers it in something her Jewish ancestors would be very proud of.

It’s really worth grating the carrot and finely chopping the celeriac as the smaller the pieces the more flavour you add to the stock. I use the leftover bones from a roast chicken as the base of my stock and when I bone out chicken thighs, I save up the bones in a tupperware in the freezer to add in rather than waste them.

Then it gets really easy. Simply put all the ingredients into your slow cooker crock. I break up the carcass to submerge it and add the cold water. Put on low and cook for 12-18 hours. Allow to cool slightly in the crock before straining and chilling in the fridge. It will become jellified so don’t cool without straining or you’ll have bits in it.

If you’re doing it on the stove, put everything in your pan and cover with cold water. Allow it to come to a bubble around the edges on a medium heat and then reduce to the absolute lowest temperature possible and allow to simmer for 12-18 hours. Strain and chill.

I have two suggestions about this recipe. Actually three in total, but bear with. Firstly, don’t call it bone broth. No one likes a try hard. Secondly, if you’re going to make a lot of chicken stock, buy a slow cooker even if you just use it for that. It’s perfect for it since most people can’t leave their cooker on and go out.

And third, speaking of try hards, I’ve now got a TinyLetter you can sign up to. I’ll be sharing interesting things to read about food and health and what I had for dinner. You’ll get an email once a week and you can share my other love too: nail polish…

 

 

gherkin soup

Gherkin Soup

gherkin soupI have several loves in my life. Black eyeliner. Slow cookers. Carmex. But my heart really belongs to gherkins. Just say the word to yourself. It’s delightful to utter. It looks comical to write. And you get to decide how deep your relationships with people will be depending how they feel about them in burgers.

I always keep a jar in the house and have to ration myself from crunching through a gherkin every time I open the fridge (and yes, I know pickling preserves them. There’s just more room in there.) I garnish sandwiches with them and add them to salads, but I’ve never cooked with them.

Like most people, by late August, I’m in courgette apathy. Allotmenteers have gluts of them, but for fodmappers like me, this lasts all year as they are one of the few vegetables I can eat.

Staring glumly at a courgette on a chilly August lunchtime, I wondered how I could perk things up a bit. Deciding soup would be more acceptable than turning the heating on, I used a jar of gherkins to add some bite and interest to the whole thing. My Polish friends might clutch their pearls in horror at how inauthentic it all is but it tasted great and made courgettes interesting again.

Gherkin Soup (serves 2)

  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • 1 large potato, grated
  • 1 parmesan rind or 25g grated parmesan
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 450ml stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 100g gherkins, chopped finely
  • 25g fresh dill or parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream

This is so easy and quick, writing the recipe out as a blogpost definitely took longer than cooking it from scratch (and I’m a speedy writer!)

Peel the potato and grate it and the courgette on the largest hole of a box grater and put into a large saucepan and cover with the stock. Add the anchovy fillet and the parmesan rind if you are using it. I stash mine in the freezer in a Tupperware until needed.

Simmer for about 10 minutes until the veg is soft and the anchovy has dissolved. I’m still working on a homemade fodmap friendly stock as it’s the place I miss the depth of onion the most, but I’m using the Knorr Touch of Taste one from a bottle. It’s onion and chicory fibre free for fodmappers and the least cheap roast chicken crisp flavoured commercial one I’ve found. Stop me if I sound too like Marco Pierre White though…

Fish the parmesan rind out and add in the chopped gherkins. Chuck in the grated parmesan if you’re using it instead and carefully blitz the soup with a stick blender, remembering hot liquids expand.

Add the chopped dill (I went fancy and added the parsley too. Mint would work if you are a dill-phobe) and stir in the sour cream and serve. It’s the perfect late summer soup, all fresh and tangy but warming and soothing at the same time. I’ve made it twice in a week which means my gherkin usage is about to fill my whole recycling bag singlehanded, but who cares when it’s this good?

 

potato soup

Cream of Potato Soup

potato soupFor some reason despite more or less worshipping at the shrine of the spud, I have never made a potato soup without adding either leeks or kale for caldo verde. In fact I’d never heard of cream of potato soup until I moved to England and saw packets of the Erin stuff in Irish sections of the supermarket and discovered it was thought of here as quintessentially Irish.

So when I checked out Ocado’s Irish shop for an event with them and Bord Bia for St Patrick’s Day, I was amused to see that they don’t stock this but lots of things I really do think of as Irish. I decided to make my own cream of potato soup though to be sure and top it with soda bread croutons, fresh dill and smoked salmon to make sure no one confused it with the packet stuff.

Cream of Potato Soup with Soda Bread Croutons (serves 4 to start)

For the soup:

  • 1 large onion
  • 25g butter
  • 500g potatoes
  • 650ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • salt and pepper

For the soda bread:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 250ml buttermilk

To serve:

This is a very simple dish with a surprising amount of flavour from very few ingredients. I know I’ve described it as cream of potato but I forgot to buy any so I used the leftover buttermilk instead and the slight tang works brilliantly, so if you use cream, don’t skimp on a squirt of lemon juice too.

Finely slice the onion into half moons and allow it to soften into a sticky caramel tangle in butter over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Or use a batch of my slow cooker caramelised onions from the fridge where they last up to a month.

Peel the potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Add to the pan of onions and pour the stock over it all, seasoning well. Simmer on a low heat until the potatoes are collapsing around the edges for about 25 minutes. Use a handblender to blitz it all into a smooth soup.

It will thick and almost gluey at this stage but don’t panic. Add the buttermilk and blitz again and the texture will lift into a sleek soup with an almost foam like texture to the surface.

While the soup has been cooking, you’ll have been making the soda bread. I do buy mine for a emergency stash in the freezer, but having finally found a source of decent buttermilk, it seemed a shame not to make my own farls here.

Heat a dry heavy bottomed frying pan on the stove. Put the flour in a large bowl and add the sugar, salt and bicarb. Gradually add the buttermilk, bringing the dough together to a lump that shouldn’t be sticky. You may not need all the buttermilk. The acid in it activates the bicarbonate of soda and allows the bread to rise, so if you only milk, don’t forget to sour it with a splash of lemon or vinegar.

Flour the worktop and place the dough on it, pressing it into a circle with your hands until it is about an inch thick. Cut into four pieces or farls and cook two at a time in the dry frying pan giving them about 7 minutes on each side. Flip them over if they start to burn. Repeat with the remaining farls.

To make the croutons, split the farls in half and cut into small cubes. Add some oil or bacon fat to the frying pan and add the cubes to it and fry until the croutons are crisp and golden. Drain on some kitchen roll.

Serve the soup in shallow bowls scattered with the hot croutons, thinly sliced smoked salmon and chopped fresh dill. It probably doesn’t reheat well due to the buttermilk, but as there were only clean bowls from my guests, I’m not sure!

tripe soup

Slow Cooker Mondongo

tripe soup

I am a person who gets hangovers. Even as a teenager when everyone else around me seemed to be able to drink cheap vodka mixed with battery acid on an empty stomach and bounce right back, I was suffering. Not for me the two aspirin and a can of full fat Coke trick. I need to lie on a bed of gossamer, sipping angels’ tears from a cut glass goblet while eating crisps and waiting for the day to pass to put it all behind me. No amount of practise has ever really helped, although occasionally a ball of mozzarella eaten like an apple before bed can stave the situation off completely.

Therefore I am constantly on the hunt for hangover cure stories. I think that I’m one old wives’ tale or anecdote away from the hangover Holy Grail. I’ve tried the whole vitamin B before going out rumour, the milk thistle phase of the late 90s, the Gatorade by the bed trick, even the suggestion of mixing the liquid from a jar of gherkins with some soda water and downing it (spoiler alert: this is not the answer to any question, unless this question is ‘how I could feel immediately worse right now?’)

I think I know now nothing will ever be my ultimate answer, but that I can simply use this quest as a way to try new things along the way, which is how I came to know about sopa de mondongo or tripe soup. A Mexican-American friend online mentioned it once for its hangover curing qualities but still feeling scarred from the pickle juice, I screwed my face up and refused to even think about eating tripe even when I wasn’t feeling delicate. Read more

Lamb and lentil soup

Spiced Lamb, Lentil and Tomato Soup

Lamb and lentil soup

Every summer I buy lamb mince with the intention of making kofte with it and every summer I panic and decide that kofte are incredibly difficult to make and I’ll ruin them*. I find myself looking at a bag of lamb mince slightly nervously and then I just make meatballs. Again.

This time I happened to have been flicking through Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe and had seen a soup involving lamb mince and lentils and thought I could finally branch out of my meatball rut.

Unfortunately I went out and drank a couple of glasses of red wine before coming home to cook it for dinner and failed to notice that Silvena’s recipe was actually for rice, lamb and lentil soup until I had a third glass of wine and couldn’t be bothered to follow the recipe. I took inspiration at that stage from Keith Floyd and went for just making it up as I went along. The result was bowls that were scraped clean and no hangover from the wine either. That’s quite a soup.

Spiced Lamb, Lentil and Tomato Soup (serves 4)

  • 400g minced lamb
  • 1 teaspoon onion seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kirmizi pul biber or smoked chilli flakes
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh mint to serve

This is a very easy soup to make. Start by heating a dry frying pan on a medium heat and add the onion and cumin seeds. Allow to fry until they start to smell aromatic. It should take about 30-45 seconds. Watch them with an eagle eye or they burn and become bitter. Tip out of the pan onto a clean plate.

Return the pan to the heat and add the lamb mince. Fry it off until the fat starts to come out of it and then add the toasted seeds back in along with the paprika and pul biber. Stir it all well and cook through completely. It should take about 10 minutes.

Remove the cooked lamb from the pan and using the fat from the lamb which is now infused with the lovely spices, sweat the onion and garlic over a low heat until they becomes translucent. This will take about 12 minutes.

While the onions and garlic do their thing, boil the lentils for about 10 minutes in salted water. Drain them once they start to look softened and return them to a large pan. Stir the lamb and sweated onion and garlic through it all and then season well. Red lentils need a generous hand with the salt cellar for me.

Tip the chopped tomatoes into it all and stir well. Add the chicken stock and simmer it all for 25 minutes until the lentils swell up and the soup thickens. Keep an eye to make sure the lentils don’t burn or start to boil dry. They have a habit of that if left to their own devices. You might need a slug or two more of stock.

Serve the soup in deep bowls. Chopped fresh mint scattered on top and stirred through as you serve complements the smoky spicy flavours of the dish perfectly.

I loved this soup. Easy, flavoursome and incredibly filling, it makes the lamb go a long way and made a real change from my usual lentil based soups which tend to be a little worthy for my real enjoyment. Lots of flavour is obviously what I was missing up until now!