Keep it local, or not – with stock and soup recipes to help you digest the big issues

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In my pile of must read books, which I optimistically keep adding to, are a few titles which might be categorised as ‘ethical eating’. There are intersecting issues to consider and finding a diet that addresses multiple ethical concerns can be a balancing act.

Take local food as an example. It reduces the environmental impact of transporting food however local unseasonal or exotic foods may have high energy needs. Supporting local farmers, food producers and retailers maintains employment in our area and keeps money in the local economy. Whilst farmers and food producers from further away need a market for their food and supporting FairTrade and similar schemes benefits people and communities around the world. If these sort of dilemmas interest you I recommend my current read, Sustainable Diets by Pamela Mason and Tim Lang.

Pamela Mason is one of the founders of the Food Manifesto for Wales, along with Jane Powell (www.foodmanifesto.wales @maniffestobwyd on Facebook and Twitter). They started a conversation which is growing to become a Welsh food network. Everyone with an interest in food is welcome to join. At this time of policy change, with our political departure from Europe imminent, a hub for discussions and debates around food policy and the future of food, farming and how we feed ourselves in Wales is welcome.

These recipes were inspired by a handful of local businesses with a few exotic ingredients to balance it! The free-range chicken I bought was reared by Martin and Danielle in North Pembrokeshire and Andrew Rees’ butcher prepared it for me; into breasts, legs and carcass (a great reason to use local butchers shops, particularly as I’m vegetarian but cook meat dishes for my family of omnivores). Most of the vegetables I bought were grown organically at Ritec Valley in South Pembrokeshire with additional organic ingredients from the Spar and Plum Vanilla Deli, in Narberth and more exotic ingredients from the Spice Box in Haverfordwest.

Chicken Stock

Ingredients

  • Chicken carcass, incl. giblets if you have them (from a roast/uncooked – some butchers will give away/sell chicken carcasses)
  • Vegetables, I usually use 1-2 onions, 1-2 carrots, 1-2 sticks celery
  • Peppercorns and hardy herbs (bay leaf, parsley stalks…)
  • Water

Method

  1. Place the chicken carcass and giblets into a high sided pan, break into pieces to fit in the pan if necessary.
  2. Wash and chop the vegetables into large chunks and add to the pan along with the peppercorns and herbs. Pour over cold water to cover all the ingredients.
  3. Place on a high heat until the water boils then reduce heat so it simmers. Simmer for an hour. Skim off any froth that appears from time to time.
  4. Drain off the stock and you will have a rich chicken stock which you can use for gravy, adding to dishes like soup, risotto and making sauce for a chicken pie. The stock keeps on the fridge for 2-3 days or can be frozen.
  5. You can repeat the process, add fresh water to the pan and simmer again for an hour. The stock will have a milder flavour and still be good for the recipes suggested above.
  6. When you have finished making stock you can pick over the carcass for bits of meat. This meat and the vegetables can be used for the soup recipe below.

Vegetable Stock – follow the recipe above but leave out the chicken, you can add additional vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers…

Chicken noodle soup with burdock noodles, left. Vegetable noodle soup with rice vermicelli, right.
Chicken noodle soup with burdock noodles, left. Vegetable noodle soup with rice vermicelli, right.

Chicken Noodle Soup (for a vegetable variation leave out the chicken and use vegetable stock)

Ingredients (use quantities to satisfy the number of people you’re feeding)

  • Oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic, ginger and chilli – fresh/dried/sauce etc
  • Some fresh vegetables, e.g. carrots, broccoli, peas, peppers, mushrooms, bean sprouts…
  • Vegetables from making stock
  • Cooked chicken meat from making stock/roast leftovers
  • Chicken stock + water
  • Noodles (you could use pasta/rice)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Prepare your fresh vegetables, peel if necessary and slice into long thin strips. Finely chop/grate the garlic, ginger and chilli (if using fresh).
  2. In a wide pan heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the onions followed by other vegetables. Cook gently so they don’t brown, until they’re slightly softened. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir in.
  3. Slice the vegetables from the stock and chop the cooked chicken into bitesize pieces, add them to the soup pan and stir in.
  4. Add the stock and top up with water so all the ingredients are covered. Bring to the boil them add the noodles, cook for as long as indicated on the noodle packet.

Vegetable Noodle Soup – use vegetable stock and add cashew nuts/tofu/egg instead of chicken.

This article first appeared in Narberth Breeze magazine and Saundersfoot Breeze magazine.

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