Tortellini minestrone

Tortellini is the easiest last minute meal. I’m known for being so busy doing something I delay and delay cooking dinner, until suddenly it is 9pm and I’m totally ravenous. At that point, the thought of having a filling meal ready in essentially the time it takes to boil the kettle is highly appealing. However, on days when I remember to begin cooking before I reach that stage, this dish is the perfect way to sneak some extra veg into a simple pasta dinner.

tortellini minestrone

I’m not a huge fan of regular vegetable minestrone – something about it feels slightly too virtuous for me to enjoy without spoiling its effect with a heap of parmesan on top. The addition of tortellini therefore bulks it out to be a more filling meal and distract from all that veg. The recipe is highly flexible to whatever you have languishing in the fridge – red peppers, some butternut squash or even diced aubergine would all fit in nicely here.

Tortellini minestrone

  • 1 onion
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 courgette
  • one clove of garlic
  • half tin of tomatoes
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • handful of green beans
  • large handful of spinach
  • half a packet of spinach and ricotta tortellini

Finely dice the onion, carrot and courgette. Sweat in a medium saucepan in a generous drizzle of olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Crush the garlic, add to the pan and cook out for 1-2 minutes.

Next, add the tomatoes and stock and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until reduced and thickened slightly. Add the green beans and simmer for a further five minutes. Add the spinach and tortellini and cook for 2 more minutes. Finally, ladle into bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of parmesan.

Chicken, ham and sweetcorn chowder

This chowder could just as easily be called ‘A vehicle for all the vegetables you optimistically bought at the start of the week and now need to use up asap because they’re clogging up your fridge’. Not quite as straightforward as chowder but equally accurate. I smuggled a leek, half an onion, peas, a potato, sweetcorn and asparagus into this, and I’m sure if I’d had some carrots or broccoli knocking about they would have gone in as well.

Chicken, ham and sweetcorn chowder

This recipe is a very similar premise to chicken fricassee which I make a lot, but bulking it out with a potato makes it a one pot meal that’s even easier. It’s the perfect hearty and filling dinner for this time of year, and although it requires a little bit more chopping and stirring than a lot of my meals, it also makes enough to last you several nights. I like to make this on a Friday to last me over the weekend, so that at the weekend I can focus guilt free on baking instead!

Chicken, pea and sweetcorn chowder

Serves 4

  • butter, for frying
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 350ml milk
  • 2 slices of ham
  • 175g tin sweetcorn
  • 100g peas
  • 25g chives, finely chopped

Fry the leek in the butter in a medium saucepan or Le Creuset dish until beginning to soften. Add the chicken and continue to cook for 5mins.

Add the potato and plain flour, and stir everything together to coat the mixture in the flour. Pour in the milk and season generously with salt and plenty of pepper. Cook for 10mins, stirring occasionally, until the potato is nearly cooked.

Add the ham, sweet corn, peas and any other rogue veg you need to use up! Cook for a final 5 minutes to heat the veg. Remove from the heat once the potato is cooked through. Stir through the chives and ladle into bowls to serve.

Tomato Meatball Soup

Just before I moved to Cambridge, two and a half long years ago now, multiple people warned me about ‘those east winds’. Relatives advised that I’d got used to raised London temperatures I was repeatedly asked if I owned a hat and enough warm jumpers.. You’d be forgiven for thinking I was heading to university in the Outer Hebrides as opposed to a mere two hour drive from South London.

tomato meatball soup

However, this is this the first term that has perhaps deserved those warnings. In case you hadn’t noticed, its January and its freezing. While Cambridge may still be lacking in snow, its doing its best with a steady stream of days where the temperature never breaks 3’C. And with weather like that, you need food like this.

tomato meatball soup

This soup has become one of my staple term time dishes. It is exactly what this weather calls for – it is hearty and comforting, yet doesn’t require any of the long slow cooking which is the hallmark of so many delicious winter stews but completely impractical when cooking on a college hob that turns off every 7 minutes for health and safety. It’s also handily versatile to suit however much time you have and whatever ingredients you need to use up – it can be made thicker and used as a pasta sauce, you can hide vegetables in it to fool yourself into getting your 5 a day, you can add chorizo for extra flavour or leave out the cream to make it lighter. Only one rule stays: eat this curled up in your cosiest cardigan, Netflix on, windows tightly closed and heating turned up.

Tomato Meatball Soup

Serves 2 generously

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 4 sausages
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • dried oregano
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 80ml double cream
  • handful of rocket

Heat a generous splash of oil in a medium saucepan. Add the finely chopped onion, and sweat for 5-10minutes on a medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Use a sharp knife to remove each sausage from its skin, and divide each one into 4-5 meatballs. Add to the onions and turn up to a medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes until beginning to colour, stirring occasionally.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Put your stock cube in the empty tin and fill with boiling water, then tip into the saucepan. Add a generous shake of dried oregfano. Simmer for around 10minutes, until reduced and thickened slightly.

Stir in the cream and heat to warm through. Ladle into bowls and top with a handful of rocket. Curl up and enjoy!