The great Saturday clear out

The kitchen was a disaster zone, what with re-painting and stuff going on all around. Food planning as you have seen, had fallen off the radar, with meals out, and too often taken on the run. So a look in the ‘fridge revealed any amount of ‘left-overs’ that needed attention and a couple of hours of serious food bashing.
First the chicken left overs: very substantial and a valuable carcass. So, meat stripped and back in the ‘fridge the carcass goes in the stew pot with the ends of leeks, some garlic, a diced chunk of the lurking celeriac, carrots, a nub end of fennel that has been making chunky salads, and a handful of fresh and dried herbs. Now, I’m thinking, if I can just get enough stock for a big vegetable soup and a risotto … Oh, and the French beans, I stick half in a sieve to steam over the stock, ready for a salad: forward planning or what.
There are two approaches I think to veg soup – the refined ‘cream of’ variety, and I had plenty of carrots say to do carrot and coriander, or the chunky, stand up your spoon version, like a minestrone, with or without pasta. I had so many bits and bobs of veg that I decided on the latter.
So I started chopping for sweating leeks, carrots, onion, mushrooms, bits of sundry peppers; then dicing potato, celeriac; shredding some red baggage, and top/tailing the rest of the French beans. Everything in little boxes ready for the stock. Then veg to sweat, added stock and cook a bit more, then add the ‘boiling’ veg such as the potatoes which we don’t want to overcook, and finally the cabbage and beans. I beefed up the stock just a bit with a sprinkle of Marigold meaning I could leave out salt altogether, added lots of pepper and took off the heat the instant the vegetables were nearly cooked. Furthermore, I also plunged the pan into a sinkful of cold water, stirring every now and then to get the heat down as quickly as possible: this is soup for reheating, and we don’t want overcooked mush.
Now, whilst doing all that chopping I also prepped the risotto – the leeks, peppers and a bit of carrot just remained to be sweated off, some chorizo sliced and the rice added and the stirring commenced. I honestly believe that a good risotto simply means hard labour with almost constant stirring (though I use a wooden spatula to lift the rice from the pan, rather than a spoon which bashes it about too much). The home made hot stock works a treat and near the end I add the frozen peas, although baby frozen broad beans are great too, and a quite excessive amount of the left over chicken which has been diced into mouth bite bits. Finally butter, cheese and a five minute rest.
Of course I had sorted out all the other lurking things in the ‘fridge, so a chunky salad went on the table with the chicken dish, the forth in a row this week!

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