Recipe: Cajun chicken soup
This unusual and interesting soup is even more substantial when it is spooned over plain cooked rice. If you like spicy food, use a larger amount of cajun seasoning (you'll find this in small jars in the spice section of the supermarkets), or add a little extra chilli powder.
Serve it for lunch or dinner, with a leafy green salad and some crusty bread alongside if desired.
SPICY CAJUN CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE SOUP
For 6 servings (9 cups):
2 Tbsp canola or other light vegetable oil
500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1.5cm cubes
100g chorizo sausages, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced (optional)
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp cajun seasoning or tsp each chilli powder, paprika, dried oregano and thyme
400g chopped tomatoes in juice
400g can creamed corn
4 cups chicken stock (or 4 cups boiling water and 4 tsp chicken stock powder)
cup cornflour mixed with cup cold water
1-1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Chopped parsley or chives to Garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the diced chicken and the sliced chorizo and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is lightly browned. Lift the chicken and sausage from the pan and set aside.
Add the chopped onion, diced red pepper (if using), sliced celery and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery have softened, then add the chicken and chorizo mixture (along with any juices) back to the pot.
Stir in the cajun seasoning mix (or spices and herbs), then stir in the canned tomatoes, creamed corn, stock and the cornflour and water mixture. Bring the soup to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Cook the rice, see below, during this time.)
Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon a generous portion of cooked rice (see below) into each serving bowl, then ladle in the soup. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives if you like, then serve immediately. Refrigerate leftover soup, reheating in a microwave-proof dish when required.
To cook the rice, put 2 cups of long-grain rice into a large, covered microwave-proof dish. Add 2 Tbsp canola oil, 1 tsp salt, and 4 cups boiling water. Microwave on high (100 per cent power) for 15-18 minutes, then leave to stand for at least 5 minutes.
SPICED SIMMERED PORK
Quickly cooked meals are just fine most of the time, but there are times when there is something particularly comforting about the tender succulence that only comes with long slow cooking. While this is probably usually more commonly associated with stews or casseroles, in this case the pork belly is simmered alone in a relatively small amount of well- flavoured liquid.
The five-spice mixture used in the sauce gives an extra warmth to the whole dish. It is an intensely aromatic blend of ground fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, star anise (the star shaped spice in the photo) and szechuan pepper, which not only gives a unique, distinctively Asian flavour, but which also fills the kitchen with a wonderful fragrance as you cook. If you don't have it at home already, you should be able to find it in bottles or packets in the spice section of most supermarkets.
For 3-4 servings
About 600g pork belly
2 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp whisky or brandy
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp (Chinese) five-spice powder
- cup water (plus extra if required)
1 tsp cornflour
Place the pork skin side up on a board, then score the skin at 5-7mm intervals (as for crackling) with a very sharp knife.
Mix together the next five ingredients with cup of water. Place a Teflon liner or sheet of baking paper in the bottom of a heavy pot, pour in the liquid and add the pork. Turn the pork a few times so it is coated with the liquid.
Arrange the pork skin side up and bring the mixture to the boil, then cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to very low.
Simmer gently for 60 minutes, then turn the pork over, add the extra liquid if its looking dry, and simmer for a further 60 minutes or until the pork is very tender. (Check once or twice and add an extra couple of tablespoons of water if required.)
Remove the pork from the pot and slice thinly. Meanwhile, mix the cornflour to a paste with 1-2 tablespoons of water and add it to the remaining cooking liquid, then heat stirring continuously until the liquid thickens.
Serve the sliced pork on steamed rice, drizzled with a little of the thickened cooking liquid. Lightly cooked or steamed broccolini or Asian-style greens make an ideal accompaniment.
Taranaki Daily News