The last few days here have been bittttttttttter cold.
The grass. which somehow still happens to be a bright green, gets blanketed during the night in frosty snow and the smallest snow flakes glisten on the blades in the morning sunshine.
The Blessed sunshine has kept us going the last few days when the bitter cold seems to seize and freeze ones body in place.
The key is to keep moving, keep moving and make soup.
This week I tried to recreate a favorite stew that I have enjoyed in the company of friends and in the warmth of their kitchens. I came up with my own variation that is mostly all natural and organic and wrote it down as I measured and chopped. It turned out to be pretty delicious so I thought I would share!
Welcome Jamaican Stew.
The more flavorful version of typical Chicken Stew.
If you want to create this hearty delicious stew, you can follow what I made up; or if you prefer a more authentic version of Jamaican stew go find a lovely person who will give up their delicious recipe. In my travels I haven't met one who will divulge the entire recipe.
Maybe it is because each batch of Jamaican Stew can vary? Or maybe it is because each family has their signature secret ingredients? I haven't decided what it is quite yet.
I have decided, however, that this recipe warms the belly and is easy as anything to enjoy with your family tonight.
Directions and Ingredients:
- Boil 6 cups of water
- Place two chicken breasts into your water
- Add in 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp of EVOO, 1 tsp of oregano, 1 tsp of chicken soup mix, 1 tsp of paprika, 2 tsp of chili pepper and 2 tsp of salt. (If your family likes spicy I would add 1 tsp of cayenne pepper too, or reserve some to mix in your individual servings)
- Add in 4 chopped red potatoes, 4 peeled and sliced organic carrots, 1 chopped yellow or sweet onion, 1 chopped winter squash (See below for more info!) :)
- I removed the chicken breast once they were cooked and simply shredded them with a knife back into the stew.
- Then add 3/4 cup of frozen peas and 3/4 cup frozen corn (Fresh would obviously be more tasty, but I used what was on hand)
- Lastly, add a packet of "Grace Cock Soup Mix" (if you have a gluten allergy I would leave it out since it has teeny tiny noodles in it, and if you want a cleaner version of this soup I would play around with adding some more of the spices we put into our broth first.) This soup additive can be found at most grocery stores and has a picture of a rooster on the front of its packaging, sometimes you may need to look into the specialty section or ethnic section of your grocery store to locate it too.
Cooking Tip: The squash is seemingly what makes this soup turn into a stew. When cooked with the broth it turns the broth into a thicker texture and fills the soup with flavor! No cream required!
We used a peanut squash or a bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length and they have skin that is green and white spotted. The squash can be baked or steamed and the thin skin is also edible. I peeled and chopped ours removing the seedy center and placing the chopped squash into the broth.
This recipe can easily be cooked in your crock pot if you are out and about frolicking through the snow and don't have time to stand in front of a stove. If you are a bear, or like me, and hibernate all winter searching Pinterest then just cook your stew in your slow cooker for 6 hours on high adding your peas and corn the last half hour. (Cooking times may vary depending on crock pot)
This Jamaican Stew is now officially tried and tested; my kids and hubby even gave it a ten out of ten! We took some to a friend and she approved as well. So, needless to say, if you have some veggies laying around and want to get adventurous with some new squashes, this recipe is for you. Maybe all the cooks that inspired this recipe have the right idea with this one... its seemingly an anything-goes kind of dish, so don't worry if you need to replace one veggie with another.
Wrapping your cold fingers around a mug of hot soup is just what makes these frigid days bearable. You will see!
Happy soup making friends! Stay Warm!