When I think of bringing food back to basics, my mind wanders wistfully to my childhood.
My 90’s childhood food memories are not necessarily rich in the 10 a day organic fruit and veg that we are encouraged to fuel our bodies with now. Crudités only ever came out at fancy family do’s, balanced in a pint glass next to a pot of shop bought, room temperature cheese and chive dip. The main source of Vitamin D would have been obtained via slurping the vivid orange, skin staining, sugary nectar of ‘Sunny D’.
Groovy Chick themed packed lunchboxes filled with squashed white bread sandwiches containing salty margarine and bear shaped ham. A penguin biscuit devoured whilst sharing the poorly written joke on the inside of the packet with mates before the meal is rounded off with a nutritionally lacking packet of space invaders, giving the rim of your lips a pale tinge thanks to the pickled onion punch the 10p packet of dreams had given you.
After school teatimes were Findus’ answer to a Croque Monsieur, floating on a pool of orange Alphabetti spaghetti. Inhaled in front of an episode of The Queen’s Nose before we rushed back out the front to play on our bikes and swap Pokémon cards with friends.
Occasionally though, through the sea of glorious beige, a glimmer of true home cooked food appeared upon the horizon. A soup my mum discovered in a toddler recipe book that has been adapted over the years, though never losing its simplicity, was one of the few dishes that bought the chaos to a halt as we sat, dipped, stirred and soaked up every last lava hot mouthful of warming liquid gold.
The dish comprises of 10 basic ingredients, though a few of these have been added over time and can certainly be adapted depending on what you have in your cupboards. The quantities vary each time my mum makes it. However one thing shall always remain a constant. It must be served with white bread, spread with butter so thick it resembles cheese. My siblings and I are now grown, some of us with young families of our own, we have continued to pass on the simple moment of joy at the table that this wonderful meal brings. Whilst the chicken in it may now be an organic, free range chicken and the baked beans contain low salt and sugar, the memories and moments of calm this soothing bowl of food brings, shall always be the same as they once were when I was around my childhood family’s dinner table. Today’s meal is unfortunately missing the sweet, dulcet tones of Pat Sharpe but he shall always remain, with the soup, in my heart.
- 6-8 Organic chicken thighs diced ( I replace with veg chicken pieces and I have vegetarians in the house)
- 2 Tins of Baked Beans
- 1 chicken/veg stock cube (1ltr fresh stock)
- 3 Garlic cloves sliced
- 2 white onions diced
- 150g Button Mushrooms quartered
- 3 large Maris Piper potatoes peeled a cubed into roughly 3-4cms
- 3 Carrots diced
- 1 tsp Worcester sauce
- 1 Tin Plum tomatoes
- Heat 2 tbsp of Olive oil in a heavy based casserole pot
- Once up to temperature add your chicken and brown on each side
- Transfer the chicken onto a plate and add the onion to the pot
- Slowly cook the onions for at least 15 minutes until they become sticky and caramelised. If they start to catch on the pan just carefully add a splash of water to help lift and soften them
- Once your onions are marmalade in texture, add your garlic and carrots
- Gently cook for a few minutes before adding the potatoes and mushrooms
- Add the chicken back in
- Cover with the 500ml of stock, Baked Beans and tinned tomatoes
- Leave to simmer gently for at least 1 hour
- Finish with the Worcester sauce and season well with Maldon salt and ground pepper
Serve with white bread and butter and an episode of ZZAP!