I’d hate to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty bloody thrilled with this soup. I’ve gotta say, it’s definitely one of the more riveting results of Meal Prep Sundays. At first, I suspected its taste would reflect little more than the last-minute, thoughtless process with which it was thrown together – a huge variety of autonomous ingredients chucked into a pot over the stove and left to their own devices. Originally, it was just meant to just be a simple chicken & veg soup which would get me through the following weeks’ lunches. I decided on soup this week because I’d grown desperately tired of vegetable frittata and salad last week, and I’d found myself craving animal protein. Sorry to all you lovely vegans and vegos, but I’m a shameless carnivorous beast. Lunch meal prep usually entails packing as much nutritional value into a stir-fry/salad/frittata/soup as possible, and while flavour is important, my lunches don’t usually have the same WOW factor that I strive for in dinners or when cooking for others – they’re designed to simply satisfy my hunger and nourish and re-energise my body. As it turns out, this soup is so much more than a mere tummy filler. So much so, that I couldn’t possibly not share it with you!
With all the heartiness and warmth of a stew, the depth of flavour of a fragrantly sublime curry and the nutritional value to impress even the likes of Theresa Cutter, this soup ticks all the boxes. What’s more, it requires the culinary know-how of an infant. A dish that’s cheap and easy to make and so lusciously flavoursome that it’s hard to believe it’s 100% clean? Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! I must warn you though, she certainly kicks: I served mine with a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt to complement the spices and balance the blow of the heat, which also added a lovely creaminess to the Indian curry-inspired dish.
A true testimony to how incredibly tasty ‘clean’ creations can be, even my Dad was impressed as he slurped and munched his way through the bowl. A few times, I was worried that the chilli-induced sweat beads on his nose were going to make their way into the bowl before him. Thankfully, they did not (like I said, she kicks!). Through a mouthful of hot soupy goodness, he awkwardly exclaimed something I figured was along the lines of:
“I can’t believe something so healthy can taste this great! Amazing, darl!”. Ah, sweet gratification.
So, what’s so good about it?
- It promotes digestive balance: Jam-packed with alkaline ingredients, this soup leaves you feeling satisfied but light and bloat-free, as the alkalising veggies and spices are low-acid producing and are therefore kind to your digestive system. Alkaline foods are also thought to sharpen your awareness, concentration and memory, boost energy levels and improve quality of sleep!
- It’s an antioxidant powerhouse and natural medicine: not only do all the fragrant herbs and spices offer a huge flavour kick, but they also possess immense health benefits. Indian spices turmeric, cumin, chilli, oregano, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, cinnamon have powerful cancer-fighting properties, and are all sources of potent antioxidants which help to reduce organ damage from acidic foods, smoking, sun exposure, excessive alcohol and pain killer consumption and other toxins. They also boost your immune system by preventing and reducing the symptoms of a myriad of sicknesses, work as internal antiseptics, soothe bodily aches and pains, pacify gastrointestinal symptoms (wind, reflux, bloating, cramps etc), and help to calm the uncomfortable problems associated with menstruation.
- It’s filling and keeps you going: The quality A-grade protein in the chicken (49 grams per serving!) is oh so filling, and it’ll keep you feeling satisfied for hours.
- It tastes too good to be good for you: The depth of flavour, the varied texture of the veggies and the tender chicken convince you that you’re eating a rich curry or stew, but really, you couldn’t have it much cleaner or leaner – it’s totally sugar, wheat and gluten free, high in quality protein, high in fibre, loaded with antioxidants and alkalising ingredients, contains no refined or ‘simple’ carbs and is also a great source of healthy fats.
Indian-Spiced Chicken & Veggie Soup w/ Avocado Salsa
Serves 8 – simply halve ingredients for a smaller batch
- 1tsp tsp chilli powder (more or less, depending on how hot you like it)
- 1.5 tbs ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tbs garam masala
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbs dried oregano leaves
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tsp oil (EVOO, coconut or rice bran)
- 1.2kg skinless chicken breast (organic if possible), cut into bite-sized chunks
- 400g pumpkin (Squash/Kent/Jap are fructose friendly), cut into 2cm pieces
- 4 carrots, diced
- 4 large zucchinis, halved lengthways and sliced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes
- 7 cups low-sodium chicken stock (organic if possible)
- 1 cup spring (green) onion, chopped
- 4 large handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 200g green beans, ends trimmed and cut into thirds
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander sprigs (leaves), roughly chopped
Avocado Salsa (optional – amount per individual serving):
- 1/4 avocado, diced
- 1 spring (green) onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp fresh lime rind
- 1 tbs fresh coriander sprigs
- 1 tbs crumbled goats feta
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the pumpkin, carrot, celery and zucchini to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing them to sweat a little.
- Throw in the chicken and all the spices and cook until the chicken is opaque on all sides and almost cooked-through.
- Add chicken stock and crushed tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cover loosely until the chicken is cooked through and the carrot is fork-tender. You shouldn’t need to add anything at this point, but it’s still important to taste-test, and season if need be.
- Add the spring onion, green beans and spinach and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the green beans are partially cooked but still crispy. Remove from heat.
- Ladle into serving bowls, top with avocado salsa, dollop generously with Greek yoghurt finish with a drizzle of fresh lime juice and coriander sprigs. You could also serve it with crusty seed toast if you’re not sensitive to grains, or a gluten free wrap, toasted and broken into tortillas as pictured (pretend papadums!) E n j o y !
- Vegetarians and vegans could use chickpeas/lentils as a plant-based protein source in place of the chicken (so long as you don’t have fructose malabsorption!). For a strictly vegan-friendly version, simply exclude the Greek yoghurt and goats feta as well as the chicken 🙂
- For a strictly paleo version, simply omit the Greek yoghurt and goats cheese, however, I believe that these are technically still paleo.
Per serving (a generous bowlful) on its own, without avocado salsa or Greek Yoghurt:
- 41g protein (around 50g protein when served with a large dollop of Greek yoghurt)
- 6g total fat (from chicken and healthy oil)
- 17g total carbs (of which 9g sugar, predominately from zucchini, carrots & crushed tomatoes)
- 5g fibre
- Only 260 calories! (while I hate to put numbers on nutritional values, I think it’s pretty amazing how low in calories this recipe is, given how nutrient-rich and FILLING it is! Bonus! What’s more, because extremely low in calories relative to its nutritional content, it’s an absolutely perfect lunch or dinner if your goal is to lose a little weight without feeling like you’re dieting at all!).