RECIPES | Five delicious, filling dishes you can make — even on a budget

A handful of winter warmers to beat the chill with wholesome homemade goodness

29 May 2022 - 00:00
By Hilary Biller
Moroccan lamb soup.
Image: Sean Calitz. Moroccan lamb soup.

What's not to love — a melt-in-the-mouth chicken pie, a thick and wholesome soup, a main meal veggie bake, a crowd-pleasing pork dish  — and to end on a sweet note a delicious seasonal fruity crumble.

Good homemade food is best enjoyed around the table with family and friends and these recipes mean there's something for all tastes and ages. Add Hilary Biller's handy budget-beating tips and cut the costs without compromising on flavour or quality.


Serves: 4-6


45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil

2 whole lamb shanks or 600g stewing lamb, removing excess fat

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, grated

10ml (2 tsp) ground cumin

10ml (2 tsp) paprika

5ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon

500ml (2 cups) good quality beef stock

1 x 400g can of chopped tomato

1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2x 400g cans of lentils, drained and rinsed

To serve:

Crusty bread, plain yoghurt and fresh coriander


  1. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-based pot over a medium heat. Brown the lamb shanks or stewing lamb all over, then remove and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot. Sauté the onion, carrot and spices for three minutes, then add the shanks or stewing lamb and sauté for another two minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Pour in the beef stock and tomato and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 2½ hours.
  4. Remove the lamb shanks or stewing lamb (set the pot aside), discard the bones and break up or shred the meat. Return to the pot, add the chickpeas and lentils and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve the soup with a dollop of yoghurt, some fresh coriander and crusty bread.


  • As lamb is expensive, replace with beef shin or stewing beef.
  • For a vegetarian version replace the meat with 2 punnets of sliced mixed mushrooms. Sauté in oil before adding onion, carrot and 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic. Add vegetarian stock, chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, cooking for 20-30 minutes before adding the pulses. Cook for 15 minutes before serving. Enrich the soup with 30ml (2 tbsp) of vegetable extract dissolved in a little boiling water or use miso paste.
  • Bulk up the soup with extra onions and  carrots and can of chickpeas. Add 1-2 cups of  vegetarian stock.
Ultimate chicken pie.
Image: Sean Calitz Ultimate chicken pie.


Makes: 1 pie to serve 4-6


Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 chicken pieces — thighs, breasts and drumsticks

90ml (6 tbsp) butter

A handful each of fresh sage, thyme and origanum

1 bay leaf

1 x 340 bottle/can of dry cider or sparkling apple juice

500ml (2 cups) milk

4 leeks, chopped

100g diced bacon

30ml (2 tbsp) flour

250ml (1 cup) cream

1 roll of puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten with a dash of milk


  1. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper then set aside.
  2. Melt half (3 tbsp) the butter in a heavy-based pot until it starts to foam. Add the herbs and bay leaf and stir through.
  3. Place the chicken pieces in the pot and brown, turning them over after a few minutes. Add the cider and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  4. Pour in the milk, cover the pot and poach the chicken for 45 minutes, then leave to cool in the liquid.
  5. Remove the chicken and reserve one cup of the poaching liquid. Pull the chicken off  the bones, discard skin and bones and set the chicken aside.
  6. In a clean pan place the remaining butter and heat until it is foaming. Add the leeks and bacon and sauté for five minutes, then add the flour and stir through for a minute or two. Pour in the cream and reserved stock and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat, add the chicken, stir through and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  8. Place the cooled chicken mixture in a pie dish, top with puff pastry, pressing down on the edges. Brush with the egg and milk wash, cut a couple of small slits in the centre of the pie with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pie is golden brown and puffy.


  • Double up the filling and freeze half for another pie.
  • Make individual pies for great lunch box fillers.
  • Use sunflower oil instead of butter.
  • Replace the milk with the same amount of  chicken stock.
  • Replace the leeks with 1 larger or 2 medium onions, chopped.
  • If you are short of time and need a quick supper, buy a ready cooked chicken.  Remove skin and bones flake the flesh. Brown in oil, add cider and simmer. Pour over milk or chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Slow-baked stuffed brinjals.
Image: Sean Calitz Slow-baked stuffed brinjals.


Serves: 4


4 large brinjals or 2 large butternuts

Olive oil

Salt flakes

250g baby Rosa tomatoes, diced

1 x 400g can Italian chopped tomatoes

60ml (4 tbsp) roasted pine nuts or flaked almonds

30ml (2 tbsp) raisins, soaked in hot water for 30 mins

30ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh dill

30ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley

125ml (½ cup) double cream yoghurt

Drizzle of pomegranate molasses, balsamic glaze or splash of fruity vinegar

Fresh mint or another fresh herb to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cut the brinjals in half and score the surface with a sharp knife then place the halves on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. If using butternuts, cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds.  Drizzle olive oil liberally over the vegetables, season with salt before baking for 30-60 minutes in the oven until the flesh is tender.
  2. Remove from the oven and gently scoop out half the flesh, leaving a 1cm border around the edges. Mix the scooped out flesh with the tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, dill and parsley. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  3. Spoon the mixture back into the halves, return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Serve drizzled with yoghurt, a splash of pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze and top with mint and fresh herbs of choice.


  • Replace the Rosa tomatoes with standard tomatoes, peeled and chopped.
  • Instead of costly pine nuts use flaked almonds.
Asian pork neck with jasmin rice and greens.
Image: Sean C alitz Asian pork neck with jasmin rice and greens.


Serves: 4


30ml (2 tbsp) peanut oil or sunflower oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1kg deboned pork neck, cut into chunks

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

5ml (1 tsp) sesame oil

4 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 x 3cm piece of ginger, grated

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 spring onions, chopped plus extra for garnish

250ml (1 cup) light soy sauce

125ml (½ cup) rice vinegar

125ml (½ cup) brown sugar

60ml (¼ cup) mirin (a Japanese rice wine used in cooking)

500ml (2 cups) beef stock

Fresh lime juice, to taste

To serve:

Cooked jasmine rice, sautéed spring onions, steamed bok choy and/or stir-fried sliced cabbage


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot over a medium heat. Season the pork, then brown in batches for three to four minutes before removing each batch from the pot and setting aside.
  2. Add the onion and carrot to the pot and sauté for four minutes or until it is soft and caramelised. Add the sesame oil, star anise, cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic and spring onion and sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, mirin and stock and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pot, cover and simmer for an 1½hours or until the meat is soft and tender.
  4. Remove the meat from the pot and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until the sauce is reduced by a third. Adjust the balance with a little lime juice to taste.
  5. Return the pork to the sauce, heat through and serve with jasmine rice, fresh and sautéed spring onions, steamed bok choy and stir-fried cabbage.


  • Replace the pork with deboned chicken thigh fillets. Reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes.
  • Instead of mirin use a dry sherry or dry white wine.
  • Use standard long grain rice if you don't have jasmine rice.
Poached quince crumble.
Image: Sean Calitz Poached quince crumble.


Serves: 4-6



4 quinces, peeled and halved

750ml (3 cups) red wine or red grape juice

250ml (1 cup) orange juice

500ml (2 cups) sugar

1 stick of cinnamon


250g cold butter, diced

175g (1 ¼ cups) cake wheat flour

50g brown sugar

100g flaked almonds

To serve:

Ice cream, cream or custard


  1. Peel, core and halve the quinces, pears or Granny Smith apples.
  2. Bring the wine, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon to the boil in a large pot. Add the quinces, reduce the heat to a simmer and poach for an hour until they are soft but still firm.
  3. Gently remove the quinces from the poaching liquid and place them in a baking dish or pan. Reduce the liquid until it is syrupy and spoon a little over the quinces.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  5. To make the crumble, rub the butter with the flour and brown sugar between your fingertips to form a rough crumble and add half the almond flakes.
  6. Top the quinces with the crumble mixture, sprinkle the remaining almonds on top and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or custard.


  • Quinces can be replaced with 4 large green pears or 4 Granny Smith apples. The apples will take about 30 minutes.