Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Back to the Basics - Chicken Soup (stock)

 Although it is the simplest soup of all (I don't count the instant Chinese noodle soups or canned ready-made ones here), it's been my favourite since I can remember. Back when I was a child, it was an absolute must for a Sunday lunch. When I was old enough to try to make my own one, I was so sure of myself that I nearly forgot to add half of the ingredients :-) Luckily, I sussed out something was wrong early enough to salvage the soup! It still astounds me how could one cock up such a simple thing, but as they as "impossible is nothing " ;-)

To make the soup you need:

chicken meat (it may be 1 whole chicken, or parts - I usually use 4 legs and 3-4 wings)
4-5 carrots
3 parsnips
half a small celeriac
a bit of parsley
1 garlic clove
3 bay leaves
3-4 allspice grains
3-4 black pepper grains
1 chicken stock cube
salt and ground pepper
a pinch of dried lovage (optional)
1 tbsp dried veg mix 

There are two ways of cooking the soup, depending on what you're going to do with the meat. If the meat is going to be used for another meal, it should be added to the boiling water. If the meat is added to cold water it will give all its flavour to the soup, probably that's why this way of cooking is vastly preferred. Regardless of the water temperature, the meat needs to be rinsed under warm water first.
Put the chicken in a large pan and add enough water to cover the meat. Put on a low heat and leave to boil.

When it boils, take the scum off, add the stock cube, vegetables and spices, but don't season it yet. Simmer it for at least another hour (the soup should be cooked for a total of 2 hours).

Add salt 30 minutes before the soup is ready. When it's done serve it with pasta of your choice, adding a bit of carrot from the soup to each serving. Delicious!
Later on, remove the meat and vegetables, and preferably sieve the soup into another pan. After it cools, store in the fridge.

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