Friday, 5 December 2014

Wintry Chicken Soup


So it's that time of year when everyone is the picture of health and public transport is a minefield of sneezes. Along with all the usual anti-illness tactics (such as warmth and medication) we have chicken soup.

You may have in mind the brothy Jewish Penicillin, though this soup here has taken a step away from broth and a further step towards comfort. I admit that I had neither the time nor the patience to spend 2 hours boiling my chicken only to throw it away so have created an in between. This chicken soup is quick to make. And easy. And so delicious and comforting that your soul will thank you. 

A portion of this will put you in a temporary food coma so not good for work lunches or going out afterwards if you want to be worthwhile company. 

Wintry Chicken Soup with lemony yoghurt sourdough croutons 

This is ideal made with left over roast chicken, in which case ignore the cooking of the chicken thighs below. If you don’t have any (which, if you’re like me, will be never) don’t panic and follow the chicken instructions.

Kitchen Stuff: hand whizzer or food processor, large saucepan, baking trays (tin foil for baking trays = less to wash up)

Quantities: serves 4

Timings: 35- 40 minutes

Ingredients
Olive oil
Rapeseed oil
2 red onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 small (1 large) leeks, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1.5l chicken stock (preferably with 2 Knorr chicken stock pots)
300g leftover roast chicken OR 300g chicken thighs and/or legs
150g frozen peas
150g tiny shell pasta (mini conchiglie)
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves
large squeeze of lemon
lots of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 slices leftover sourdough, cut into cubes
Butter
Garlic granules (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

1.   SOURDOUGH CROUTONS: Melt about 20 – 30g salted butter (I did mine in a microwave) and add one large pressed or finely chopped clove of garlic to the butter. Mix the garlic butter in with the sourdough cubes until they are all slightly buttery. Add a sprinkle of thyme leaves and a couple of pinches of garlic granules if you have them. Lightly season.

Arrange the cubes on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes until golden.

2.  COOKING CHICKEN: (If you don’t happen to have a leftover chicken in the fridge and still want chicken soup). Trim the excess skin off your chicken thighs. Pop the thighs and legs in a bowl and drizzle over some olive oil, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Mix them up until coated and arrange on a baking tray. Put in the (200 degree) oven and cook for 30 minutes or until just cooked through.

3.  VEGGIES: Heat a little butter and some rapeseed oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add onions, carrots, leeks and thyme, then gently fry for 15 mins, stirring. Stir in the stock,   bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for a further 10 mins.

Don't forget to take your croutons out if you haven't already
4.    SHREDDED CHICKEN: Take your chicken thighs out of the oven and check if they are cooked through. If so, remove and discard the skin, take the meat off the bones and shred. Add the shredded meat to the soup. (Or add your already shredded leftover chicken, clever clogs).

Remove half the soup and pure with a hand whizzer (stick blender) or pop it in your blender. Add the pureed mixture back into the pan.
5.   PASTA & PEAS: Add your little pasta shells, peas and some seasoning to the soup and cook for a further 5 minutes until the shells are al dente.

6.   YOGHURT: Mix your greek yoghurt with a good squeeze of lemon, 1 large pressed garlic clove, seasoning and a tablespoon of chopped parsley.

7.   SERVE IT: Serve the soup up in deep bowls with a swirl of yoghurt, a handful of croutons and a large pile of parsley on top. Put the extras in the middle so people can help themselves to more. And they will.