Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup is the perfect mid-week dinner. Packed with flavour, fresh, comforting and fully satisfying.

I love it when a quick midweek meal suddenly reveals itself to be an absolute stunner out of nowhere. When I’m slamming ingredients left and right into a saucepan, keen to get dinner on the table in under twenty minutes then I can’t always be bothered to taste here, adjust for seasoning there. The salt and pepper get tossed into the pot mercilessly so it’s anyone’s guess on whether I have got the balance right until we’re tucking in on the sofa.

I think it adds to the excitement of dinner time; will I have got a bit heavy handed with the cumin again? Or perhaps a little under handed with the chilli? Almost certainly. Once the first few bites are underway Luke usually has to get back up to get something, salt, tabasco, sriracha; usually salt. I am obstinate that I got it right first time so will rarely return to the kitchen, oh yes and I’m lazy.

So when I got everything bang on last Wednesday we were all pretty shocked. I was perhaps a little offended that Luke felt the need to repeat more than once how actually this was a really delicious dinner and I felt he really hammed up the yummy noises. I pride myself on being a bit of a cook it so happens and this didn’t particularly fill me with confidence about my usual offerings. I begrudgingly agreed though, this Chicken Fajjita and Wild Rice Soup one was definitely a keeper and as I was on a roll I made it the next couple of nights for good measure, but I didn’t get such resounding applause the second or third times and the yummy noises definitely receeded. Spoilsport.

I do not underestimate the foundation of a really good stock in this (or any) soup and I hit the motherload when I found the last of the ham stock lurking at the back of the freezer from Christmas. However, if you can only get your hands on some supermarket standby or a stock cube then the smoky triumvirate of chipotle, smoked garlic powder and sweet paprika will mean you don’t miss out too much.

The beauty of this soup was that I basically just made chicken fajitas, frying off a load of onions, peppers and smoky spiced chicken then added stock and a mix of basmati and wild rice. Really the whole thing was a charmed idea from the off. However I will not lie to you, this soup is pretty much all about the toppings and I think it’s important to load your finished soup up with all the good stuff you would normally put on your fajitas. Let that bowl overflow my friend, there is no judgement here.

We are looking for textures and flavours in our toppings and since my fridge is always stocked with coriander, avocado, limes and sour cream, as I crave fajitas often, there was no question that they would insist on getting involved. As luck would have it I am having a bit of a moment with pumpkin seeds so they got shovelled on top and it turned out they added a much needed crunch to the proceedings. Salty sharp feta also turned out to be perfection since it is a pretty good substitution for proper authentic Mexican cheese and it just so happened I got some in this week. If not, cheddar would have sufficed.

I feel like the whole dinner was kismet but even if you don’t have any of the ingredients to hand at all then I urge you to put them on your next shopping list as this soup is so good that it’s definitely worth planning for.

Chicken Fajita Wild Rice Soup

A flavour packed soup, fresh, comforting and fully satisfying.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken fajita wild rice soup, chicken fajita wild rice soup recipe
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 308kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 450 g chicken breast cubed
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced finely
  • ½ red pepper sliced finely
  • ½ yellow pepper sliced finely
  • ½ green pepper sliced finely
  • 100 g sweetcorn kernals
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 200 g wild and basmati rice mix cooked
  • Optional Toppings: crumbled feta,sour cream, sliced avocado, pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander

Instructions

  • Combine the chipotle, garlic powder, paprika, cumin and coriander together then rub into the cubed chicken. Set aside whilst you get the soup started.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large wide bottomed saucepan then when hot add the onion and peppers and gently fry for about 15 minutes until softened and just starting to catch.
  • Add the chicken and the sweetcorn and mix in.
  • Pour over the orange juice, lime juice and the stock and bring everything back up the boil. Once it’s there, turn down to simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir in the cooked rice then divide between the bowls, topping up with as many accoutrements as your bowls can handle.

Nutrition

Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 19.2% | Vitamin C: 76.4% | Calcium: 1.7% | Iron: 6.3%

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws
We made this soup as part of our Halloween celebrations the week before last, bringing a huge vat of it to the front of our house and serving to our friends and neighbours. It was a lovely evening and it is extremely comforting to be wrapped up warm whilst out in the cold clutching a mug of spiced hot soup. Well I wasn’t wrapped up that warm since I was in a witch’s hat with punishing red heels and carrying a broom, my normal Friday night attire.

I do need a bit of something cheesy with this kind of warming autumnal soup. For an every day lunch a round of cheddar cheese sandwiches fits the bill quite nicely but for an event it is rather special to bake some fresh cheese straws, most definitely served warm from the oven.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

Although I love pumpkin, by itself it can be a little bland, it doesn’t have the same sweetness as butternut squash, which is why you often find most pumpkin recipes stuffed to the gills with spices or chilli. Here, we went one step further to imbue the soup with as much intensely pumpkiny flavour as possible and roasted it up first before adding it into the soup. If you add pumpkin straight into hot water or stock, much like other squashes or even sweet potato, the vegetable would basically turn to mushy water. The pre-roasting captures the flavour and texture whilst also lending a slightly caramelised note to the proceedings.

Then after that we pumped the soup full of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. A pinch of chilli was added in for depth more than piquancy but if you like your soups super spicy then do add in fresh chillies as well, although that was not what we were looking for here.

You may notice that I have said ‘we’ a lot in this recipe, that’s because I wasn’t the only head chef on this one. That honour lies with my husband who did most of the work whilst I just yelled out what spices to add in next as I prepared the cheese straws from my side of the kitchen. Barking orders in the kitchen is one of my non too favourable traits.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

I wanted to cram in as much cheese as possible into my straws to make sure the deep savouriness could compete with the soup, so I used both gruyere and parmesan in equal measure. Really any strong cheese would do, even stilton at a push. Just before the straws went into the oven I sprinkled a liberal amount of black sesame seeds over which pair beautifully with the cheese and with the pumpkin. Of course you can use white sesame seeds if that’s all your supermarket holds without any impact on the taste.

I think cheese straws are an absolute necessity this time of year, I often make up the pastry a couple of days before guests are due, and often do so in my pre-Christmas preparations so that on the day I can roll them out and throw them in the oven just as everyone is arriving and needs a little something to nibble on. Dunked into this pumpkin soup though gives them even more reason to become a November/December staple.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6-8

2 kg pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 celery, diced
1 leek, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1½ litres chicken or vegetable stock
Crème fraiche and snipped chives to serve

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, then prepare the pumkin by peeling, removing the seeds and dicing into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large roasting tray and then tip the pumpkin in, coating with the oil. Add seasoning then place in the oven, roasting for about 1 hour until the pumpkin is cooked all the way through and just starting to caramelise at the edges.
  3. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan heat the other tablespoon of olive oil on a gentle heat and add the carrot, onion, celery and leek. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are just turning transparent.
  5. Add the garlic, chilli and all the spices and stir to coat for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Tip the pumpkin in and the stock and bring up to the boil. Then turn the heat down to simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the soup from the heat and blend it together until smooth. Check the consistency of the soup, if you feel it is too thick then add some more stock or water and bring back to the boil. If the soup is too thin then boil down until you reach your preferred consistency.
  8. Serve with a swirl of crème fraiche and some snipped chives.

Black Sesame Cheese Straws
Makes 45-50
Adapted from a recipe by Jenny White on the BBC Food website

375g plain flour
pinch of salt
225g butter, put in the freezer for 30 minutes
100g gruyere. grated
100g parmesan, grated
½ teaspoon of English mustard powder
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 free-range egg yolks + 2 egg yolks whisked up to make the egg wash
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  1. Grate the butter into the flour and salt, then rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle in the mustard powder and cayenne pepper and stir in both cheeses.
  3. Add the egg yolks plus 5 tablespoons of cold water and bring the dough together until smooth. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
  5. Roll out the pastry into a 18cm long rectangle, the pastry should be about 5mm thick. Then cut into 1.5cm strips.
  6. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over, pressing lightly into the pastry strips and brush with the egg wash.
  7. Place on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes, before serving warm.

Fish Soup with Rouille

Fish Soup with Rouille
When I told my Mum I was making fish soup this week I could hear her nostalgia through the phone line as we both thought of the same thing, Dad’s fish soup. The memories of it are powerful, a deep tomato sauce spicy and imbued with pungent garlic. Our bowls would be overfilled with prawns, mussels, cod and salmon and we would always without fail eat it with hunks of white crusty bread slathered with salted butter which we would plunge into our soup bowls, gathering up fish and as it dripped with tomato sauce.

That said, this is nothing like my father’s fish soup so sorry if you are now longing for that dish instead of this one. When I began my soup that is exactly what I had intended but then halfway through the preparation I became sidetracked by the thought of the wonderful bouillabaisse I had at Ondine in Edinburgh last year which relies more on a stock based soup instead of tomato. So in the end this turned into a very bastardised version of that.

Now, the first thing you need to do when making a bouillibaissey type soup is to make your fish stock…

Guys, I could not be bothered with making a fish stock. Sometimes you just don’t want the faff to deal with fish heads and bones, cooking for hours then straining and blah blah blah. I had some chicken stock in the freezer so that was fine by me I decided. I will not decry you if you want to be less lazy than me, although I might think you were trying to show me up. You could buy fresh fish stock from the fishmonger which would make your version more authentic but I’d still be on top as I made my stock myself, despite the chefs in Provence scoffing and shaking their heads in disgust at me. Basically what I’m saying is that you need stock and you can be lazy about it. But not too lazy, heaven forfend did I hear you utter Knorr?

Fish Soup with Rouille

I served my soup with a rouille which is a traditional accompaniment to bouillabaisse and made with lots of garlic, saffron, bread and olive oil. However, I have messed around with that too and used white potato as a base for it instead of bread. Actually I used jersey royals which I’m sure in some circles I would be shot for. Restaurants tell us jersey royals should be prepared one way only, the soil should be lightly brushed away then the potato grazed with boiling water and served plainly with a kiss of butter so we can appreciate their sheer potato royalty. Well, I boiled it until it fell apart then blitzed it in my processor with oodles of garlic, chipotle, egg and olive oil. Yum. Although it was just laziness again as when I noticed I had a few jersey royals in, suddenly the shop with the correct floury potato seemed so far away. The good thing about using jersies is that you don’t need to peel them, I think it added to the flavour, although if you want a smoother rouille, you might want to do without the peel.

The rouille should have the consistency of a mayonnaise and if I haven’t done so already in this post I would just like to shame myself further as when I made the rouille I had to taste it, to check for seasoning, make sure I wasn’t adding too much chipotle in there etc. Then when I had got it just right, I took a few more tastes just to make sure. Yeah, that’s okay so far, but even then when I was so positively sure that I had got the flavour balance perfectly, I took just a few more spoonfuls. Then some more. Then some more. So, this sauce is like that. Prettee tastee.

It was lucky that I was spending the afternoon by myself as no one would have come near me after that, I went to say hello to the cat and it shot out of the room faster than a celebrity responding to the ice bucket challenge. So the rouille had depleted somewhat before it made it to the photos, but this recipe makes tonnes so you don’t need to worry if chef gets a little carried away. You only really need a dollop of it on your soup, but you may not be able to stop there and maybe possibly it might need to have its own bowl with a spoon for you to attack when you’ve finished your soup. That’s okay, there’s no judging here. But be warned, it is garlicky and then some.

It’s a bit of a family Friday today as I’ve talked about my Mum, my Dad and now I’m going to talk about my sister who gave me these gorgeous fish bowls last Christmas which she brought back for me from Spain. As soon as I opened them I was imagining bowls of rich fish soup and so I’m thrilled that the meal that I was planning 8 months ago has now finally come to pass. So now you know that I am always late as well as lazy.

Fish Soup with Rouille

Fish Soup with Rouille
Serves 4

600g Monkfish
500g Salmon fillet
8 Prawns
60ml olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 leek, sliced into thin rounds
½ fennel bulb, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, diced
1 red chilli, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp sun-blush tomatoes (optional)
1 beefsteak tomato, diced
2 tbsp tomato puree
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sweet paprika
Grated zest of ½ small orange
120ml white wine
A pinch of saffron
1 litre stock, fish or chicken or vegetable

For the Rouille
300g cooked potato
A pinch of saffron
1 tsp chipotle in adobo (or harissa)
2 garlic cloves
1 egg yolk
½ tsp salt
black pepper
100-150ml light olive oil

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, celery and leek. Cook for 3-4 minutes then add the fennel, carrot, chilli and garlic cloves. Stir it all together on a gentle heat for about 15 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
  2. Add the sun-blush tomatoes if you are using them, then stir in the beefsteak tomato, tomato puree, cumin, paprika and the orange zest. Cook for 5 minutes, then as the tomato is beginning to break down, add the white wine and saffron.
  3. Stir the wine through and as it begins to bubble pour in the stock and add seasoning.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and place the lid on the saucepan, cook for 30 minutes so the flavours get to know each other and the vegetables cook all the way through.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and using an immersion blender, whizz up the soup so that it’s completely smooth. Check for seasoning.
  6. Prepare your fish by washing, removing the skin from the salmon and dicing the salmon and the monkfish. De-vein the prawns by snipping along their back shell with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, then pulling out the long black thread buried just underneath the surface of their backs.
  7. Chill the fish until ready to use.
  8. Heat up the soup on a gentle heat then once piping hot, add the fish and place the lid on the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the prawns turn pink and the monkfish and salmon are cooked all the way through. Try not to disturb the fish too much as you don’t want it to break up.
  9. Serve with a garnish of parsley and the rouille.
  10. To make the rouille, put the cooked potato in a food processor, along with the saffron, chipotle in adobo, garlic cloves and salt and pepper and mix together.
  11. Once it’s all turned to a lovely puree then add the egg yolk and whizz again.
  12. With the food processor on, pour in the olive oil in a very slow and steady stream as if you were making mayonnaise. How much depends on the potatoes you are using but you want it to be a thick mayonnaise consistency.
  13. When it’s ready, check for seasoning before removing it from the food processor and serving.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams
With this soup I wanted to recreate a wonderful velouté I had at Bonnie Gull at the weekend.  Bonnie Gull is a lovely cosy self-proclaimed seafood shack just north of Oxford Street.  We treated ourselves to a lunch there on Saturday and had such a relaxing time.  We forgot entirely that we were just a few minutes from the crowded hubbub of tourist town; instead it felt like mere footsteps from the bracing coastline.  We got thoroughly involved in trying all manner of catches of the day such as razor clams, hake, teeny tiny queenie scallops and this lovely wild garlic velouté with shellfish.  At Bonnie Gull they served their version with flakes of Arbroath Smokie along with squid ink gnocchi which added a rich and sweet smoky depth to the velouté.

Bonnie Gull

After our lunch at Bonnie Gull it was sheer chance that Alexandra Palace Farmers’ Market had bunches of wild garlic on offer the next day as I’m sure I haven’t seen it before, or maybe I was just a bit more susceptible to noticing it on Sunday.  I swooped in to buy a bag and next to it were some garlic chives so I picked up some of those as well to bring another dimension.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chives | Stroud Green Larder

I also deviated from the original dish by making a soup rather than a velouté.  The difference being that a velouté is one of the five classic French sauces, with a roux base loosened with hot stock.  I didn’t really fancy the flour so instead diced up a potato to use that as my thickener.  There is a definite difference in texture and taste.  The potato based soup tastes a little more homespun and less refined but that also achieved the right rustic charm I was after in my particular dish.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup

Any meal involving shellfish feels like a treat and this is no exception.  The vibrancy of the wild garlic and garlic chives provide the perfect bedrock to the seafood.  The plump mussel and clam morsels nestle deep into the soup, their shells catching hold of the liquid so you can merrily scoop up some smooth garlicky gravy when you dive in for a clam.

Now is the perfect season for wild garlic and garlic chives and in more rural areas they are easy to seek out and forage for free, so if you know where to pick some I encourage you to make haste and make this soup.

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams | Stroud Green Larder

Wild Garlic and Garlic Chive Soup with Mussels and Clams
Serves 2 for a main dish and 4 for a starter

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 floury potato (about 225g), peeled and diced
40ml vermouth
1 litre chicken stock
80g wild garlic
50g garlic chives
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tsp butter
300g mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
300g clams, scrubbed and de-bearded
40ml vermouth
1 tsp butter
½ clove garlic, crushed

  1. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and butter. Once melted, add the onion and celery. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the potato and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the vermouth and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the wild garlic and chives and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.
  5. Remove from the heat and pour the soup into a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
  6. Return to the saucepan and add the crème fraiche and butter. Stir in on a very low heat until the crème fraiche and butter have melted in.
  7. Prepare the seafood by heating the vermouth, butter and garlic in a saucepan, when it has come to a gentle simmer toss in the mussels and clams and put the lid on. Cook for 2-3 minutes until all the shells have all opened. Discard the ones that haven’t opened and serve on top of the soup.