Let’s spend a minute to talk about diet. More specifically, mine. It’s become more apparent in the last couple of weeks that a lot of you have misconceptions about me and what I do (and do not) eat.
I think there are a lot of assumptions that I’m ‘vegan’ and a lot of you are stumped when you see that I’ve posted a dish with some sort of animal product in it. I hate the thought of you thinking that I’m a fraud, that I’m trying to portray myself as someone superior or that I’m ‘doing it for the ‘gram”.
So let’s lay it out on the table. I am not vegan. I have never truly been vegan. I would love to turn to that lifestyle completely and for bouts of my life, I have. I believe that living a plant based diet is what is most beneficial for humans and I feel it within myself when it’s all that I consume.
I would say that 90% of my diet is still vegan. It’s what Bella and I tend to eat at home. However, when we’re out, whether at a restaurant or at someone’s house, we eat whatever is being served. There are some places that we frequent that do some awesome vegan dishes and we’ll tend to favour those but we’re also partial to a good eggs benedict, croissants on Saturday mornings and there are times in our lives where we can’t go past sashimi.
The other day I had a real hankering for a steak and I knew I must have been low in iron so rather than trying to ignore what my body was asking for, I gave into it and cooked the best quality meat I could get my hands on and reveled in the meal I cooked. The next morning, I woke up alert and full of energy. Food is medicine so you must always listen to your body.
Speaking of medicine, let’s get onto this soup. It’s a recipe by Sophie Dahl and it’s one that comes out every winter the second anyone in my house is sick. This would have to be one of the most nutritious and delicious winter dishes.
It’s an incredibly long process – 6-7 hours in fact – but it’s perfect for those lazy days at home and moments when you’re taking joy in being the perfect mother/house wife. So here it is – Sophie calls it ‘soul-soothing’, I call it ‘healing’, call it what you will but it’s some goddamn good chicken soup.
By Sophie Dahl, with some amendments by me
1 whole, free range organic chicken*
1 lemon, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Generous splash of olive oil
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 leeks, sliced
2 L vegetable or chicken stock
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
small bunch of parsley
a generous splash of white wine
Splash of olive oil
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 large handful of fresh or frozen peas**
small sourdough loaf, ripped into bite-sized chunks
freshly grated parmesan
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Pre-heat the over to 180C.
- Please the chicken in a roasting tray and fill the cavity with the lemon halves. Rub the outside with the oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 1-1.5 hours, or until fully cooked.
- Once the chicken is cooked, leave in tray to cool slightly while you get to work on the soup.
- Heat the olive oil in a pot large enough to fit the whole chicken in. Over medium-high heat and gently fry the onion and garlic. Once softened, add the leek.
- Remove the lemon from the chicken’s cavity and place the whole bird into the pot. Do NOT throw out the juices in the baking tray.
- Add the rest of the soup ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently (very gently) simmer the soup for 4 hours. Top up with a bit of water if the stock evaporates too much – you want the chicken nearly fully submerged.
- Once the 4 hours is up, remove the chicken. Be careful it will be falling apart at this point so make sure you grab all that you can. Shred the chicken.
- Clear the stock of the old vegetables and keep warm on a low heat.
- Add the shredded chicken back to the broth.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Heat the last of the oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Saute the celery, carrots and leek until cooked. Add the peas.
- While the vegetables are gently frying, toss your sour dough chunks into the chicken juices. Grate over a generous amount of parmesan. Bake in the oven until the bread becomes crispy and the parmesan has melted.
- Spoon the vegetables into individual bowls and ladle the chicken and broth over the top. Sprinkle with parley and more parmesan and serve happily with the sour dough. You. Are. Welcome.
*If you are going to eat an animal, please pick one that has lived a good life rather than one who lived it’s days never seeing sunlight or worse, in a cage.
**The vegetables in this are totally up to you. Bella loves corn so we always have some in the freezer to add. I also love adding thinly sliced kale to give it an extra nutrients boost. Do whatever pleases you.