September 2011

Chicken Tarragon Soup

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

With the changing of the seasons, my thoughts have started to turn to soups. I think this soup perfectly suits this time of year, it is warming but still light, and contains one of my favourite flavour pairings - chicken and tarragon.

The best thing about this recipe is that it takes no time at all to put together, and as with many soups, it is even more delicious the next day.

Onion (medium sized)
Oil or Butter
for frying
Chicken Stock
Chicken (skinned and boned)
6 thighs
Milk (optional)
Salt & Pepper
to taste
Other Requirements

Chopping board, sharp knife, large pot, frying pan, spatula and blender.

First prepare your vegetables for the base of the soup. Finely chop the onions and cube the carrots.

Pour a little oil into your large pot, add the vegetables and cook over a low heat until the onion turns translucent.

Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and leave to cook while you prepare the chicken.

Chop the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces. I use skinned and boned thighs from my local butcher, if you ask yours I'm sure they'll have them. If not, you can always have a go at skinning and boning them yourself, which, while tricky is not impossible.

Heat a little oil to the frying pan, add the chicken and cook until just cooked through. Leave to one side.

Add the tarragon to the soup base, stalks and all. Let the tarragon soften in the hot liquid for a couple of minutes and then blend together. I use my trusty stick blender but you can ladle in into a standing blender too.

Once everything has been smoothly blended together add the splash of milk. This adds a slight creaminess to the soup that I like, but feel free to leave it out.

Add the chicken to the pot and season. Simmer the soup for 15 mins to allow all the flavours to mingle.

Serve hot with bread. Great for lunch or dinner.

Blooming Marvellous!

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Once again I find myself playing catch up on the blog, this time to write a little about Bloom which ran from 2nd - 6th June in the Phoenix Park.

Myself and my mum headed down on the Thursday, and after encountering a bit of a tailback getting into the car park, we were soon walking through the show gardens and enjoying our surroundings.

As my mum is a keen gardener we spent quite a long time in the show gardens. But to get the show gardens we had to pass through the equally beautiful and amusingly arranged walled garden.

The centrepiece garden of Bloom was the Ire-Su garden from China. It was so beautiful and serene, I could've admired it all day.

The Alice in Wonderland garden was full of beautiful details. I particularly liked the close planting of red and white roses together that made it look like they were on the same plant, just like the painted roses in the book.

My very favourite garden of the whole show was called A Place of Belonging, which was designed by service users of Focus Ireland.

Both my mum and I were taken with the Asthma Society's Asthma Garden, which was filled with plants that wouldn't irritate asthma sufferers. We particularly liked the beautiful benches.

We also loved the colour palette in the Think Blue garden. So many beautiful pinks, blues, purples and reds.

The most interesting concept was the Outside Gallery garden, that used the garden setting to display art works.

I may have also taken a little journey into the Adventures with Thumbelina garden.

Once we had thoroughly explored the show gardens, we headed straight for the Food Village. Compared to what there was at Bloom last year in terms of food, this was huge! All the spaces between the different areas were filled with edible produce, lettuces, fruit trees and other vegetables.

Once in the Food Village, we made a bee line for the hot food stands as we were both starving. A quick discussion, and we decided to have one of the delicious looking pork sandwiches from Crowe's Farm.

They not only looked delicious but tasted delicious too!

We enjoyed our lunch while watching the cooking demonstration from Neven Maguire. This was introduced by Ella McSweeney and also featured interviews with 2 of the producers of the products being used in the demonstration. In our case Donegal Rapeseed Oil and Wexford Strawberries.

After Neven's demo we took in some of the other exhibits that Bord Bia had in the Food Village. I particularly likes the depictions of the various products grown in Ireland.

My very favourite part of the day was something that I stumbled across completely by accident, a cow being milked. Now I know that may not seem particularly interesting to those of you from the country, who grew up around dairy farms, but as a lifelong city dweller, it was not something I had ever seen outside of television. It was fascinating to watch.

In an attempt to wrap up what is an already epic length blog post, I can tell you that I have but skimmed the surface of what was going on at Bloom. I haven't even touched on the Craft Village, or the marquees full of food producers, or the various DIY shows and about a million other things. What I can tell you is that it was even better than last year's festival. I only hope it continues to build on this.