Chicken Soup. Virtually everyone has their own version of this winter staple. It is one of the quintessential go to dishes to make you feel warm on the inside and to fix what ails you. The good thing about it is that you can put anything you like in it. Mine is loaded with vegetables, because that’s how I like it. The vege vary depending on what I have on hand – like so many other things I make.
To start, you need a good stock. My suggestion is: make your own. It really isn’t hard. All you need is time, so get yourself organised for the weekend and make a big pot. I often make enough for soup, and then freeze extra in ice cube trays so that I have ready access to small amounts of stock for sauces, stir fries and the like. Just remember to label the ice cube tray – as chicken stock in your gin and tonic isn’t going to taste too great!
Ingredients for the stock
2kg chicken wings
1 large carrot
2 large sticks celery
2 large brown onion
1 large leek
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
half a dozen white peppercorns.
Pre-heat oven to 200 celsius. Roast chicken wings for about 15 minutes or until they start turning golden in colour. Roughly chop vegetables and put with wings into a large stock pot. Cover with 20 cups cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities that appear on the surface. Reduce to a very low simmer and continue to skim off any oil or fat from the liquid.
Now you just have to walk away. Leave it to simmer, uncovered, for as long as you can. All day is good – by that I mean 7-8 hours. In this time the liquid will have reduced by about half and you will end up with a wonderfully flavoured stock. Strain the stock through some muslin and keep refrigerated until you need it. Don’t throw out the chicken wings! Once they have cooled down enough to touch, separate the meat from the skin and bones and keep it for your soup.
Ingredients for soup
8 cups chicken stock
reserved chicken meat from stock making process
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 large leek, cut in half then finely sliced
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 small turnip, peeled and finely diced
1 small swede, peeled and finely deiced
1/2 cup small broccoli florets
1/2 cup small cauliflower florets
1/2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then sliced
1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 cup butternut pumpkin, finely diced
Salt & pepper
few sprigs fresh thyme
few sprigs parsley
In a large stock pot heat a little olive oil over a medium flame and sauté carrot, leek and celery until just beginning to turn translucent. Add turnip, swede, cauliflower and broccoli and cook for about two minutes. Add stock and bring to the boil. Add herbs, turn down to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, beans, zucchini and chicken meat and cook for a further 20 minutes. By this stage, all the vegetables should be soft and completely cooked through. Remove herb stalks and check the seasoning.
Now the soup will be wonderful just like this, but, if you want it to be even more hearty, then cook 1/2 cup of risoni or some other small pasta and add to the soup. Don’t cook it in the soup as the pasta will suck out all of the flavour in your stock.
If you have some left over, it freezes well or will keep in the fridge for a few days.