Winter is coming

And then that day came that we were all simultaneously expecting and dreading.

Winter is upon us. The cold, the rain, the frosts. Gone are Perth’s beautiful long summer nights, and we welcome the excuse to bundle up and hibernate. Bears have the right idea, with their carb loading and epic nap schedule.

Dinners are turning from grilled meats and fresh salads, to slow cooked delights heartier feasts. Stews, roasts, casseroles and soups are all the order of the season and the season’s vegetables are the best place to showcase winter’s flavours.

My favourite corner of the earth at the moment is the Subiaco Farmers Markets, held every Saturday morning from 8am until noon. Fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, pastries… Basically, if you’re into food (and real food), you needn’t set foot in Coles or Woolworths again. I’m sure I don’t need to tell how that that’s a good thing. Everything is local, fresh and good. Oh, and did I mention cheap?

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I couldn’t resist all the beautiful winter vegetables that were starting to appear in the stalls. Organic tinned vegetables stood in for the things I couldn’t buy; Maggie Beer’s chicken stock actually contains chicken. I make a point of saying this, because many stocks don’t contain the things you’d think they would. All of these beautiful ingredients were going to combine into the perfect winter soup, filling, nutritious and not overly liquidy because I can’t be trusted not to spill it.

Chunky chorizo, chicken and vegetable soup

Adapted from Gourmet Traveller

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 chorizo, diced
4 free-range chicken thigh fillets diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
400g can chopped tomatoes
750 ml chicken stock
1 cup rigatoni or other small pasta
1 cup green peas
2 zucchini, cut into 1cm dice
400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
50g spinach leaves
1 tbsp finely chopped basil leaves
finely grated parmesan

1) Over medium to high heat, warm olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add onion, carrot and cook for 10 minutes, softening. Throw in chorizo, chicken and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until chicken changes colour.

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2) Add tomato and stock to the mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste Bring to the boil then reduce to medium. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Add the pasta, zucchini beans peas. Increase the temperature to medium-high and cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes.

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4) Remove from heat and add the spinach, basil and remaining olive oil. Serve with grated parmesan and a good crusty sourdough.

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