Delicious winter warmers are but a pot away.
As I walk to work each day enjoying the crisp fresh feel of the start of winter, my thoughts have turned towards planning simple warming meals that are nourishing and tasty but take little time to get on the table at the end of the day.
Slow cooking is delicious but needs a bit of preparation and faffing about which can be too much effort when everyone is trying to get out the door by 8am. So soups have been getting my attention. Be sure to have some good home-made stock in the freezer, then all you need to do is grab a few veges or tasty extras, along with some crusty bread, on the way home and you pretty much have it sorted.
First up is a chowder simply made with kumara, a little wine, garlic, a splash of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Top with chopped up steamed mussels and finish with a drizzle of chilli sauce - robust, warming and delicious. This recipe is also good made with a combination of mussels, pipis and cockles.
Soup number two is a classic mushroom but made only with the portobello variety because of their strength of flavour - leave the buttons out of this one.
You can use a selection of true field varieties if you are lucky enough to have a secret location from which to forage, but the commercial portobello work fine.
Soup always needs a chunk of crusty bread so with this recipe I also have made whole grain toasties filled with blue cheese. Toast these in a pan until crisp and the cheese is melting on the inside and then dunk in the soup - yum.
For the tasty parsnip and spinach soup, roast the vegetables first to create a robust base before blending with well flavoured stock. Grate in a little fresh nutmeg and then puree. Add fresh spinach leaves to the hot soup so the leaves gently wilt and all the nutrients are retained. Top with extra rounds of roasted parsnips and a drizzle of the best olive oil you can get your hands on.
Make a large pot of stock by throwing in bones, vegetable ends and peelings. Some people like to roast the bones first for a deeper flavour. Cover with water and simmer. Don't add salt because the flavour of what you are adding the stock to may be compromised.
There are excellent New Zealand-made chilli sauce products on the market - look out for Kaitaia Fire and Hot Samoan Boys, both excellent.
* Check out Viva's Facebook page, the place to find out what's hot in fashion, beauty, food, wine and design.By Amanda Laird Email Amanda