Two-Hour Economical Chicken Soup Recipe

two hour chicken soup

“There is no dignity
quite so impressive,
and no independence
quite so important,
as living within your means.”
~ Calvin Coolidge

 

I lived on this soup when I was a university student, back in my sharehouse days, and then again when I bought my first house and every spare cent went on the mortgage repayments.

I used to make this soup because it was yummy, filling and cheap.

Then I began to make it because it was yummy, filling and so easy to prepare from just a few frugal ingredients – great when I was busy and time poor.

Then I made it because it was wholesome and health-promoting, and even on my worst health days I managed to be able to put the ingredients into a pot somehow.

This is a hearty soup, and by the end of cooking the meat will be falling off the bones, and the bones will have given all their goodness to the broth. This is the fastest way I know to make a bone broth!

Over the years it has become an important recipe in my kitchen. It’s one of the soups I’ve made in bulk and frozen, for Ben to reheat for me when I come home from hospital. It’s easy enough that when we run out of frozen soup, Ben will have no trouble in whipping up a fresh batch for me as I talk him through it.

Let me show you how easy it is, so that you can make it too.

 

Ingredients:

750g to 1kg chicken wings, 1 large onion, 2 large carrots, 1 large potato, 3 cloves of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of vinegar, 2 large sticks of celery, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 chicken stock cube or one teaspoon of stock powder, 2 litres of water, 1 cob of fresh corn (optional but really good!), fresh parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper

* Note – organic chicken wings, like all chicken wings, are always heaps cheaper than the more expensive cuts of chicken! o if you’re going organic, this is a budget friendly way to do so.

If you have other vegetables you’d like to throw into the soup, go right ahead. It’s a very accommodating recipe.

Method:

Using a sharp knife cut the wings into thirds. If you’re lucky you may even be able to purchase your chicken wings already chopped into these smaller portions. (I always put the very ends of the wing tips aside to feed to my dogs as a treat, or to go into my stock pot for later.)

Place a slug of oil in the bottom of a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Brown the wings until they are still raw, but have taken on a nice golden colour. You may need to do this in batches. Remove wings from pot and set aside.

chicken wings

While the wings are browning, chop your onion, celery and carrot into a small dice. Mince the garlic or chop finely. Cut the potato into slightly larger chunks so that it doesn’t fall apart in your soup.

chicken soup ingredients

Place the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into the pan and stir on medium heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant and beginning to brown slightly.

Add the chicken pieces, bay leaves, potato, and oregano into the pot and then pour the water over. Add a grind of pepper, a pinch of salt, your stock cube or powder, and a squeeze of lemon juice (or a dash of vinegar – about a tablespoon is good).

It won’t look very exciting yet. It takes time for the magic to happen!

chicken soup fixings

Bring to the boil, stir, and then turn the heat down until the liquid is simmering on a very slow boil. You still want to be able to see some action in the pot. Don’t turn it down so low that nothing is happening! Place a lid on the soup but make sure it is vented. I usually place my lid cocked on the rim, so that it is partially covered but steam can still escape easily and the liquid will reduce a little.

If you want you can vent your lid like this:

Photograph by Donna Curry at www.seriouseats.com

Photograph by Donna Curry at www.seriouseats.com

Or, leave the lid off, but watch your soup so that the liquid level doesn’t drop too low. If it does, no drama. Just add a bit more water.

Leave the soup to simmer for about two hours. Do check it occasionally in case you need to stir it or add a little more water. About ten minutes before serving use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob of corn. Add the corn and freshly chopped parsley to the soup. Let this cook for ten minutes and then taste. Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Another little squeeze of lemon juice can also really lift the flavour.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy.

chicken soup made with wings

two hour chicken soup

Easy Tuscan Chicken Recipe

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
~ Laurie Colwin

 

This is a simple meal to throw together, and a regular in our household. The flavours are wonderful and the chicken remains moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. I love to make this when friends come over for a casual dinner, or on a lazy Sunday afternoon for just the two of us so that we have plenty of leftovers to enjoy in the week ahead. (Keep in fridge for five days or up to three months in the freezer.)

My grandmother, Marga, taught me to make this dish when I was still at school. I can’t fail to make it now without thinking of her.  It’s a very versatile recipe, and can be served with all kinds of sides.

I’ve served this chicken with crusty bread and a glass of wine. I’ve chucked a tin of white beans and a couple of cups of sliced mushrooms into the pot an hour before the cooking was finished and made it into a one-pot meal. I’ve served it with a big fresh salad and cobs of corn. I’ve served it on a bed of rice, and also on a bed of pasta. I’ve served it with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, or a big pan of all manner of roasted vegetables. Work with what’s seasonal and fresh in your area right now, and what you and your family love. That way you can’t go wrong.

Do try and make this with chicken pieces that have bones. The flavour will be more robust and the longer cooking and the acid from the tomatoes will help leach all the fat-soluble minerals from the bones, as well as amino acids and the collagen and other nutrients from the meat, cartilage and tendons.

The recipe can also be easily halved, if you prefer.

Here’s last night’s leftovers, all set to go into the fridge. The photo below reminds me of so much of Marga, a fabulous cook who was always putting leftovers into re-purposed ice-cream or butter containers, ready to begin the makings of another meal.

I’ll pull all the meat off the bones tomorrow, and put it back into the sauce. Then it can be used as a ragu over pasta or vegetables, or even served warm for breakfast with a runny poached egg and a handful of fresh herbs on top.

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Ingredients:

2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of chicken drumsticks or chicken pieces with the bones in, 1 small head of fresh garlic (about 12 cloves), 1 large brown onion, 1 cup of your favourite olives, 2 tins of diced tomatoes, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 4 tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste, olive oil, two teaspoons of grated fresh lemon rind, salt and pepper

Method:

Separate the garlic cloves, crush lightly with the flat of a knife and remove the skins. Cut into halves or thirds. Chop the onion into a rough dice.

Heat a slug of oil in the bottom of a very large skillet or high-sided frying pan on medium to high heat. Brown the chicken in batches. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through. You simply need to brown the skin and outer flesh. Place chicken to one side.

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Pop the garlic and onion into the pan and reduce heat. Stir until soft and fragrant and then add in the olives and the oregano. Stir some more.

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Now dump in one teaspoon of the grated lemon zest, the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Give a good grind of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and stir well.

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Add the chicken pieces back in, making sure that they are well covered with sauce. Add a lid and cook over low slow heat for four hours, turning occasionally.

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This can also be cooked successfully in a slow cooker for the same length of time.

Just before serving taste the sauce. Add in the extra teaspoon of lemon zest to freshen up the flavour and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Serve and enjoy!

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Easy Chilli Con Carne Recipe

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“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”
~ Shauna Niequist

 

Chilli con carne is one of those great comfort food dishes. I usually make a big pot, and it does us for two or three meals, depending on how many mouths I am feeding. It can be made in a slow cooker, it freezes well, and left-over mince can be used as a nachos topping, in burritos, on toast or in jaffles.

Want to pad it out a bit more? Add in another can of tomatoes and a drained can of tinned corn. Chuck in some vegetables if you want. That’s the joy of country cooking. You work with what you have to hand. I will often add a second can of tomatoes and some extra beans into whatever is left-over after our first meal to make another big pot if I need to.

It’s also easy to adjust the seasoning to suit your family’s taste. Like it hot? Add more chilli. Less hot? Just add a touch, or leave it out altogether.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, 1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), 4 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed or chopped finely, 500g of lean beef mince,  2 rashers of bacon chopped in small dice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tspn smoked paprika, 2 tspns cumin, 1 tspn dried oregano, 1 400g tin of diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 400g tin of red kidney beans – drained, 1 heaped teaspoon of beef stock powder or one large stock cube, 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate (about four squares) salt and pepper to taste, 1 long red chili (or your favourite chilli paste, powder or sauce), fresh coriander (cilantro), lime wedges and cooked rice to serve.

Method:

Dice the onion and capsicum. Add to a large saucepan with the oil over medium heat. Stir until the onion is soft and slightly translucent. Add spices and garlic and keep stirring.

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Chuck in the diced bacon. Stir well to prevent sticking and add another slug of oil if necessary. When the mixture is warmed, fragrant and the bacon is slightly browned add in the mince.

Brown mince well. Now throw in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, drained kidney beans, beef stock, salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust chilli if necessary.

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Add the dark chocolate. Trust me – it adds real depth of flavour. Don’t go crazy. You want to adjust the sweetness without making it taste noticeably of chocolate!

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Turn down heat and simmer for a minimum of thirty minutes.

Serving:

Serve on a bed of rice with fresh chopped coriander sprinkled over the top and a wedge of fresh lime. Additional accompaniments include salsa, grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream or yoghurt, and corn chips.

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Last Chance Soup Recipe

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“There is no dignity
quite so impressive,
and no independence
quite so important,
as living within your means.”
~ Calvin Coolidge

 

Sunday or Monday is usually a day of planning and prepping for me. And that often includes making a batch of Last Chance Soup.

I first started making this soup when I was an impoverished student, living away from home in a share house. We went to university in a rural town where we were fortunate to have good access to cheap fresh produce. I would buy whatever was in season at the big roadside produce stalls and ask for the old and damaged fruit and vegetables, which the stallholder would often give to us for free or at a vast discount. We were always broke and I needed to make our food budget stretch as far as I could so we would have enough money for important things, like books, rent, and beers on a Friday night.

Growing up, I’d done the lion’s share of cooking at home because mum worked long hours. Later, I often shared with housemates who couldn’t cook, so I never minded volunteering for the cook’s position. There was method to my madness too. We all chipped in a set amount per week for food. If I shopped and cooked I used from-scratch ingredients, which were cheaper that freezer meals and junk, and that way I could even make cakes and biscuits for the same amount of money as the sad traditional student diets of instant noodles, frozen pizzas, things in cans and microwaved meals. In the end, for being impossibly broke, at our house we ate really good food – roasts and soups and stews, cakes and puddings and sweet treats.

I was determined to live well, even on a shoestring. I knew it could be done. My grandmothers had taught me these things, after having themselves grown up in lean times. Eat simple. East seasonal. Eat local. Grow what you can, and support the farmers who live nearby. Wherever I lived I had a few battered recycled pots and styrofoam boxes or roughly-hewn garden plots for my herbs, flowers and easy-to-grow vegetables. We were sometimes blessed with a gnarled old lemon tree or two in the back yard, or we’d find someone who did. My grandmothers were my introduction to the slow food movement before such a  thing was even a movement at all.

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Also, some of our housemates or dinner mates were invariably young men who ate like there was no tomorrow – so food that was filling and cheap was a high priority. I became quite cheeky after a time, cooking elaborate dinner parties for the boys in neighbouring houses so that they would mow our lawns, fix our plumbing or lug second-hand fridges around for us. 🙂

Essentially, this soup is a throw-together of what’s in the fridge at the end of the week that is needing to be used up or thrown away/composted/fed to the chickens. Hence the name Last Chance Soup.

Because left-overs vary from week to week the flavour changes with each batch. I use up the last of any cold roast meats or tail ends of bacon etc, or perhaps a little fresh meat or chicken. Sometimes I’ll use beans or lentils. It really does depend on what is in the fridge, freezer or pantry. If I use beans or lentils I may throw in a tin of tomatoes and some tomato paste. Then I go through the onion and potato bin, and the crisper drawer. Have a look at what’s in the garden. Anything that is old or a bit wilted gets used up. Leftovers from previous meals? They may work too!

After a few minutes of chopping and another hour or two of simmering I have a lovely pot of soup that I can eat for a simple Sunday night dinner, with enough left over to freeze into portions for easy meals, a quick lunch, or an emergency gift for a hungry or stressed friend.

This soup can be made as vegan, vegetarian, low carb or paleo. I encourage you to experiment. It’s soup, people, not rocket science. Taste as you go, and adjust if necessary. Soup is nutritious, economical and easy. I hope that you’ll soon be making super and adventurous soups as a regular part of your household management plan. 🙂

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The basics of this soup are as follows:

An onion, a clove or two (or three!) of garlic, two litres of stock or bone broth, a few cups of mixed vegetables (sometimes I’ll use cold roast or cooked vegetables from a previous meal), a handful of fresh or a pinch or two of dried herbs, a cup or so of raw or cooked meat or beans/legumes. Salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the quantities up or down as needed.

Additional flavourings can be had from tomatoes and tomato paste, lemon, dried or fresh herbs, curry powder, a glug of wine, sauces or preserves.

You could also add a handful of dried pasta or a little rice for extra body and texture.

Can I be more specific than that? Not really. I’m not sure what’s in your fridge or pantry!

Ingredients:

For this particular batch of soup I used 3 garlic cloves, one red onion (starting to shoot!), 2 carrots looking past their prime, the last of last week’s bone broth, plus water and a little vegetable stock powder, 2 big rashers of bacon and half a chicken breast, 2 soggy sticks of celery and the tops of the new bunch, 2 very small dutch cream potatoes that won’t be useful for anything else, the remainder of an old pumpkin, 1 big green leek, the sad remains of a once huge cauliflower – the stalk and maybe a cup of florets, a big handful of fresh parsley from the garden, a couple of green onions, the pitiful last squeeze of half a lemon I’d already used for something else, a heaped teaspoon of turmeric, a tablespoon of coconut oil (or your favourite fat).

Method:

Chop the onion, garlic, meat and leek into small pieces. Heat a big pot over a medium flame, add the coconut oil and then toss in the meat, leek, onion and garlic to brown and cook. Stir often. You can then throw in the turmeric, celery and carrot to brown up a bit too if you want, as this gives the soup a richer flavour. No time? Don’t worry – just chuck it all in.

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Add the rest of the vegetables or beans/legumes if you are using them, and any dried herbs. Keep fresh herbs and any especially soft and quick cooking vegetables, like small pieces of pumpkin or zucchini, aside until the last ten minutes or so of cooking time.

Pour in the stock. Stir well, bring to a strong simmer and then reduce heat and simmer for one to two hours, covered.

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Taste, and adjust if necessary using salt and pepper or a dash of anything else that takes your fancy. It’s fine to add in a little more water or stock too. To finish, throw in the finely chopped herbs and any remaining vegetables and cook on low heat for another five to ten minutes. The humble ingredients will have then transformed into something satisfyingly magical.

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Ladle into a bowl and enjoy. I jazzed mine up with a few shavings of parmesan cheese and some extra fresh herbs. Result? Delicious!

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*Note – if your soup ends up very thick, feel free to call it stew and serve it over rice or noodles, or with some thick slabs of toast. Be creative!

Tasty Moroccan Lamb Curry

lamb curry

“May my thoughts of kindness stretch over like a warm blanket to envelop your being and caress your soul.” ~ Truth Devour

 

It’s cold, blustery weather here at the farm right now. I made a pot of this simple curry with the meat from some leftover grilled lamb chops. This recipe works equally well with leftover lamb from your weekend roast or barbeque, or with fresh meat.

This curry has loads of turmeric, bone broth, garlic and other healing foods – super for nourishing your body and boosting your immune system. And the Moroccan-style spices give a rich, slighty sweet flavour.

It was so easy to throw together that I didn’t think to take any pictures until it was ready to be eaten. But don’t panic – it’s very straight forward.

Ingredients to serve four:

500 grams lean diced lamb (cooked or uncooked), 1 large onion, 1 tablespoon of ghee or oil, 1 x 400 gram tin of diced tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic – crushed, 1 cup of diced raw carrot, 1 cup of diced sweet potato, 1 seeded and chopped red capsicum (bell pepper), 2 cups of good quality chicken or vegetable stock, 4 to 6 dried dates – chopped, 2 teaspoons of dried turmeric, 6 green cardamom pods – lightly crushed, 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro/chinese parsley) – halved and finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin, avocado to serve.

Method:

Place the oil or ghee, the diced meat and onion in a large heavy bottom saucepan and cook over medium heat until the meat is browned (if raw) or until the onions are lightly coloured.

Add in all the dried spices and garlic and cook for another few minutes, stirring well, until fragrant.

Now add half the coriander and the final ingredients. Stir well to combine, and then lower the temperature, place a lid on the pot and simmer for a minimum of one hour. I cooked mine for three, which helps the flavours to soften and combine, and makes the meat falling-apart-soft and easy to digest.

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Check occasionally if simmering on a cooktop, and moisten with a little extra water if needed. If you like, this can also be cooked easily in a slow cooker, and shouldn’t require extra liquid.

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To serve, top with the remaining chopped coriander and some diced avocado.

You can enjoy the curry as a paleo dish on its own, or serve it over rice, steamed vegetables or with some good crusty bread.

I enjoyed my curry with just that generous sprinkle of fresh coriander, and some diced fresh avocado grown on a neighbour’s farm. 🙂

 

Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to three days and are also good in jaffles, on toast, or thinned with some extra diced tomatoes as an easy pasta sauce. It also freezes well.

 

Easy Chicken Stock – Bone Broth Recipe

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“The quest for slowness, which begins as a simple rebellion against the impoverishment of taste in our lives, makes it possible to rediscover taste.” ~ Carlo Petrini, founder of the International Slow Food Movement

 

When you’ve roasted a chicken (see my easy roast chicken recipe here) the scrapings from the pan, and the frame and bones of that chicken, will give you the basis for a wonderful stock.

Stock, or bone broth as it is also known, has many health benefits. Think of it as healing goodness in a bowl!The bones, cartilage, skin and remnants of meat on the chicken frame are cooked over low heat for many hours with scraps of vegetables and herbs, producing a broth that is full of amino acids and minerals – such as calcium, magnesium, sulphur, silica and potassium – which are nourishing and replenishing for our bodies.

The stock can be used in your soups, stir-fries, curries, pasta and rice dishes, casseroles and even as a warming drink.

If you’re in a hurry, then you can cook this for four hours, but if you have the time try to cook for a minimum of twelve hours.

Ingredients:

The pan in which you roasted your chicken (if possible), left-over bones and frame (carcass) of a roast chicken, a tablespoon of vinegar, 2 dried bay leaves, 2 ribs of celery, 2 carrots, 1 onion, a large bunch of parsley, 6 whole peppercorns, and any other scraps of vegetable or herb that you have on hand and would like to throw in the pot.

Tip: I have a large ziplock bag in my freezer. When I have the tail ends of carrots, celery, herbs, leeks, shallots and so on at the end of a meal preparation, I put them in the bag and return to the freezer for my stock-making days.

Method:

In a large pot (you could also use a slow cooker) with a close fitting lid, put the left-over chicken frame and any extra chicken bones (such as the drumsticks) from your meal. If your roasted bird had herbs etc in the cavity, feel free to leave them in. If you are using a bought chicken that came with stuffing, remove any stuffing first!

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Add a cup of boiling water into your baking pan, and use a wooden spoon or scraper to loosen all the caramelised goodness and juices from the bottom of the pan.

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Tip that delicious mixture into your stock pot.

Now roughly chop the vegetables, and add them and the herbs. I also threw in some fresh turmeric root and some sliced ginger, which are both fabulous anti-inflammatory herbs for your immune system.

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Cover the whole lot with a couple of litres of cold water, so that the chicken and vegetables are well covered. Pop in the tablespoon of vinegar.

Bring to a slow boil and then turn the heat right down, put the lid on and let it simmer away.

When the broth is finished it should be a rich clear brown colour.

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Leave to cool and then strain into a bowl and pull any remaining meat and carrots out for your pet’s meals. (No onion for dogs!) Discard the rest.

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Decant into containers and place in fridge to chill. Spoon off any fat one it has cooled. Stock will keep for one week in fridge or three months in freezer.

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Tasty Sausage Casserole Recipe

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“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.” 
~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

I am not always up to cooking just now, so when I am I like to cook enough food to guarantee us some easy-to-reheat leftovers or freezer meals.

This recipe reminds me of both my grandmothers. Nana was a fan of everything economical, so sausages were a great favourite of hers. My other Grandmother, Marga, loved flavoursome sauces and gravies, and abhorred anything ‘dry’. I combined those things to come up with this tasty sausage casserole. It’s great for feeding hungry workers at the end of a big day on the farm, and I have also used this recipe on stock camps or out droving, because the ingredients are very portable. (Why eat bad food just because you are camping?)

Note: This dish can easily be made vegan or vegetarian by using vegan sausages and vegetable stock.

Sunday is usually my day for cooking stocks and soups, and slow cooked foods that use up anything in the fridge or pantry that needs eating. I’ve used fresh tomatoes here as well as canned ones, because I had a few tomatoes going a little wrinkly on my kitchen bench. Feel free to experiment with this recipe to use up those older vegetables. It’s a forgiving dish, and is open to inclusion of many extras.

Ingredients:

1 kilogram fat beef sausages (or sausages of your choice), 2 large onions sliced, 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) diced, 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes and one 415 gram tin of diced tomatoes OR two tins of diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter, 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder (or equivalent) and one cup of boiling water OR one cup of good bone broth or stock of your choice, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 cup of red or white wine, one tablespoon of fresh herbs (I used parsley and oregano) or one teaspoon of dried Italian or Mixed Herbs, 1 tin of red kidney beans, water, salt and pepper. Optional: a fresh sliced chilli or a slug of Tabasco sauce if you like a little heat in your food.

Method:

Fry up your sausages over medium heat, using the tablespoon of oil to prevent them sticking. No need to cook them through. Just seal them and give them some colour. Then remove them from the pan and place into a large baking dish, casserole or slow cooker. Leave any fat in the pan.

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Now add the onions and capsicum, and fresh tomato if you are using it. Fry gently for three minutes, allowing the onions to become golden and the capsicum and tomatoes to soften.

2014-03-15 10.41.52Add the stock, wine, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, fresh or dried herbs, sugar and vinegar. Stir well.

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Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add those too. Let this simmer for a few minutes. Then taste and season with salt and pepper. Pop in the fresh chilli or Tabasco if you are using it.

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Pour sauce over the sausages in your baking dish or slow cooker. Cover with a lid or some foil to prevent burning or drying out.

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2014-03-15 12.23.24Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 150 degrees celsius/ 300 degrees fahrenheit) and cook for 1 hour.  If using a slow cooker cook for three hours on low heat.

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Serve over pasta, rice or mash. It’s also good with a crunchy salad or fresh seasonal vegetables.

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This meal freezes well, and can be reheated in a moderate oven, covered, for thirty minutes. Any leftover gravy is super as a pasta sauce, spooned over chops or with eggs on toast for breakfast. Enjoy!

PS – For those of you who enjoy camping, this is FABULOUS to make in a camp oven!

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