If you have never eaten dinner with a group of medics, may I warn you to expect, should such an occasion arise, discussion of topics including the insertion of catheters, rectal exams and the severity to which the smell of rotting flesh induces retching. Such was my discovery the evening I offered to cook dinner for my boyfriend and his medic friends. Perhaps just as uncomfortable, however, were the occasions when they became conscious of my non-medic presence and attempted to include me in conversation with questions such as ‘Soooo….what do you want to do when you graduate?’, currently a considerably more nausea inducing topic than how badly gangrene smells. I can’t fault them for trying though.
Conversation aside, the food worked out well. After excessive debating, I finally settled on cooking a version of a tomato and chorizo pasta soup I’ve cooked several times before and always enjoy. With my boyfriend firmly of the opinion that a meal can only be considered a ‘proper’ meal if it contains meat, I decided to up the protein a bit by adding some shredded chicken. Being a big fan of meals I can eat out of a bowl with a spoon, this dish instantly scores points. Tomato and chorizo is a winning flavour combination in my mind, then there’s the gooey, melty mozzarella stirred though. It also worked out well to cook for a casual dinner party as it could be all prepared in advance, up to the point of adding the pasta. I was happy, despite the somewhat graphic medical discussion.Tomato and chorizo pasta soup (Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals)
- 2 chicken breasts
- 900ml chicken stock
- 2 tbsp oil
- 20 g butter
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2 red peppers, de-seeded and sliced
- 250g chorizo, cut into chunky slices or chunks
- 2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 350g pasta i.e.penne, fusilli, conchiglie, spirali
- 125g mozzarella, grated
- 200g spinach, roughly chopped (or leave whole if using baby leaf)
- First poach the chicken breasts. Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a saucepan, reduce to a simmer and add the chicken breasts. Poach for about 15 mins until cooked through. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve the poaching liquid.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 10 -15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and starting to colour.
- Add the pepper and chorizo and cook for about 3-4 mins until the peppers are starting to soften. Add the tinned tomatoes, reserved poaching liquid, sugar, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 10 mins. Meanwhile shred the poached chicken breasts.
- Add the pasta to the pan and continue to simmer, covered, for about 10-12 mins unitl the pasta is just tender, adding the shredded chicken after the first 5 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and continue to cook for a further minute or so until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the mozzerella. Check seasoning then divide between bowls and serve with warm, crusty bread.