Before Meniere’s Disease, for me batch cooking was something mums with huge families did. It was something your grandma did and something people talked about on cooking shows. It had no relevance to me – I was working in a restaurant and pretty much lived on air (along with caffeine, nicotine and the odd bit of pizza). I had only myself to look after at home so I didn’t need any food reserves. If I did get hungry when I wasn’t at work, I would pop to McDonalds which was 5 minutes walk away or occasionally stick a frozen ready meal in the microwave.
Nowadays batch cooking is a lifeline. I have far too many days where the Meniere’s will just raise its ugly head from nowhere in the middle of what was an OK day and knock me for six. Then I’m done -best case laid up on the sofa or in bed for the rest of the day watching Netflix because I can’t do anything else and worst case is – well let’s just leave it at “worse than that”! That’s just how it is. This means that I need backup plans and I’ve found that I can’t eat ready meals or canned soup anymore as their salt content (even in the “low salt” ones) is through the roof so I’ve become a batch cooking convert.
Soup is something that has always been “poorly” food. I think it’s something we grow up with in the UK – as a kid if you are ill, you get soup or boiled eggs with toast soldiers, depending on what kind of poorly you are. And that stays with you – after all what’s easier or more comforting when you’re feeling rotten than a bowl of hot soup? (And it’s comfort food that’s pretty much fat free – winner winner!) But it’s also something I really enjoy even on a non-dizzy day!
After some rumination, I’ve decided therefore that I am going to celebrate batch cooking on The Dizzy Dieter: starting with a soup of the month – and when I run out of soups, we’ll move onto something else but that should be a long way off! I know soup is something that can take a bit longer to make (although just remember it sits and simmers on its own quite happily for ages and it will save you more than that amount of time in the long run).
I’ve decided to start with a glorious classic: vegetable soup. I’ve bulked it out a bit with some red lentils – because I like a substantial and hearty soup that fills you up – and added some fresh sage and thyme as well as a bit of bouillon powder.
Bouillon is magical stuff – I’ve always stuck with stock cubes and stock pots and been a bit wary of bouillon because it has a rep of having a high salt content. I have still kept good old stock cubes as the main base/body of the soup. However, just the addition of a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder to this makes so much difference in the overall flavour of the finished soup – I’ve tried it with and without because I couldn’t believe such a small quantity in such a large quantity of liquid could be so effective but it really is! It’s not the cheapest ingredient around but a little goes a VERY long way so it will last you. You can use it like stock – dissolving it in boiling water – or you can use it more like a seasoning as I’ve used it. I believe you can get it in most of the supermarkets but if not then have a look here.
This is a VEGETABLE soup so you don’t need to stick to the vegetables I’ve used necessarily – if you don’t have peas for example then chuck something else in. During a brain fog moment when shopping (before one of the remakes) I forgot to get any peas so I put the same amount of frozen mixed veg in and it was still good – they are still vegetables after all! I also find it’s a great way to use any leftover or excess vegetables that we haven’t used before shopping delivery day
If you are a vegetarian or just want to make the soup without chicken then you absolutely can. The lentils make it filling and substantial enough that it doesn’t need any meat to satisfy and fill you up.
Please let me know what you thought of this – the first Dizzy Dieter Soup of the Month! Share it with your friends, let’s get everyone batch cooking to make their lives easier and reduce waste too! Please do tag me in any pictures of your soup or batch cooking extravaganzas on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – I can’t wait to see what you make! Enjoy DDxPrint
Hearty chicken, vegetable and red lentil soup
- Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
A hearty chicken and vegetable soup with split red lentils and tons of vegetables. Serve with some fresh bread and butter.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large white onion, diced
- 1 leek, halved and sliced thinly
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- A few sage leaves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 carrots, diced (unpeeled)
- 3 sticks of celery, diced
- 100 g frozen peas
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes (around 400g)
- 170 g split red lentils
- 1.5 litres of vegetable stock (3-4 stock cubes dissolved in 1.5L of boiling water)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large chicken breasts, cooked separately and roughly shredded
- Put the split red lentils into a bowl, cover them with cold water and leave to soak.
- Prepare all the vegetables before you start to make life easier – peeling, chopping, dicing, etc.
- Put the olive oil into a large pan over a gentle heat. Once hot add the garlic, onion and leek and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the carrot, celery, thyme and sage. Cook for about 15 minutes until the carrot is just starting to soften.
- Add the peas, tomatoes, stock and the lentils. Add the bay leaf and the bouillon powder and season well with salt and pepper. Mix everything together. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the lid and stir in the cooked, shredded chicken. Allow to simmer, uncovered for another 30 minutes.
- Serve hot or allow to cool completely and freeze in portions using airtight containers or Ziploc bags.
- If adding chicken, cook the chicken breasts separately, roughly shred them and add them before starting the 30 minute uncovered simmer (Step 6)
- Defrost for 24 hours in the fridge. Cover the bottom of a saucepan with cold water and heat the soup gently, stirring frequently. ENSURE THAT THE SOUP IS HOT THROUGH BEFORE EATING!
- If you want a thinner soup, reduce the amount of lentils.
- Prep Time: 50 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Serving Size: Per serving
- Calories: 157.64kcal