I wasn’t a regular chicken-soup-maker until relatively recently, but I am now completely hooked and make this recipe at least once a month. It’s healthy, comforting, filling and, although it takes a little time to cook, it couldn’t be easier.
The best thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can easily adapt it to suit whatever you have in your fridge – most greens (think kale, spinach etc), cannellini beans, bacon lardons, mushrooms – I could go on – would all work well here.
Another reason why I love this recipe is that it freezes so well. I will usually have this for two lunches, then portion out the rest into individual containers and bung into the freezer for another day.
2 leeks, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced into chunks (no need to peel)
1 large free range chicken
1 bay leaf
Bunch of fresh thyme
2 litres water
4 chicken stock pots
Bunch of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
Bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Makes 6-8 portions
Start by putting the whole chicken in a large saucepan.
Add the leeks, carrots, bay leaf and thyme stalks around the chicken.
Pour over approximately 2 litres of water – this will vary depending on the size of your chicken and saucepan, but you want to make sure the chicken is just about covered.
Add the chicken stock pots.
Pop the pan on the heat and bring to a simmer.
Leave to gently cook for around two hours.
If any foamy scum floats to the surface during this time then skim off with a spoon.
Once you are happy the chicken is cooked through (there should be no pink meat at all), remove from the pan and place on a chopping board.
Strip the carcass of all the meat and shred using two forks. I like to keep the pieces relatively big.
Return all of the chicken meat to the pan.
Taste the broth to check for seasoning. If it’s tasting a bit weak, I will add another chicken stock pot and stir through.
Fish out the bay leaf and thyme stalks and remove from the saucepan.
Add the tarragon and parsley.
Give it all a good stir…and it’s ready!
Ladle into bowls, ensuring each has a a bit of chicken, a few slices of carrot, some of the leeks and plenty of the broth.
The soup is delicious and hearty enough to be served on its own, but is equally good eaten with a big hunk of butter-slathered sourdough, or made with the addition of dumplings.
When I am in the mood for something a bit more substantial, I particularly like adding orzo. To do this I boil some up in generously salted water, and then stir through the soup just at the last minute.
There are just some days when nothing but a steaming bowl of chicken soup will do…