When Lenny’s feeling a little bit under the weather she gets a craving for soup. Actually, pretty much ANY excuse to make this simple, hearty chicken soup will do. You just start with a whole chicken, remove the skin and simmer it with tasty vegetables until the flesh is tender and comes away easily from the bone (Lenny calls this the “fall-apartability” test.
Removing the skin as Lenny does in this video might a familiar process to people who’ve basted a “chook” by getting their hands under the skin to rub a mixture of butter, garlic, herbs and what-not on the flesh.
God bless her, Lenny’s always looking out for my cholesterol levels, and removing the skin then skimming the fat off the broth no doubt helps.
I’ll say one thing about this recipe, but don’t tell Lenny. I find the vegetables in the finished soup a little bit bland, probably because their flavour has leeched out into the stock. I wonder if that could be remedied by separating the “soup” vegetables out towards the end of the cooking process, discarding them and adding a new batch, then simmering until the new veges are juuust cooked. In the meantime, I just grab our catering-size bottle of Tabasco and let fly to add a bit of zing.
Lenny has a whole book of soup recipes, so we’ll probably be diving back into the stockpot for future editions of CTK.
1 fresh, high-welfare chicken, 1.5-2kg
5 celery stalks
2 large tomatoes
1 bunch parsley
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
Fresh crusty bread rolls and butter for serving, if you like
Skin the tomatoes by slicing a shallow cross in their bottoms with a sharp knife then soaking them in just-boiled water for a couple of minutes. Once you take them out the skin will peel right off. Dice the tomatoes along with the celery, carrots and onions. Halve the leek lengthways, then slice. Finely chop the parsley.
Remove the skin from the chicken. You can use a piece of paper towel to get more grip on the slippery skin.
Put 2-3 tablespoons olive oil into a big stock pot and gently fry the onion and leeks until they’re soft. Toss in the other veg and the skinned chicken.
Cover the whole lot with water and add the soy sauce. Bring it to the boil and periodically skim the brown gunk off the surface. If you have a plate just slightly smaller than the diameter of your pot, or one of those open-out strainers (like I use in the video), you can put it on top of the chicken and veg to hold them under the surface to make it easier to skim off the gunk.
Let the soup simmer for about an hour, until the chicken is nicely cooked and the meat is falling off the bone. Take the chicken out of the pot and let it cool for a few minutes until you can handle it. While that’s cooling you can either strain the stock (keep all the veg) or hold the veg down with a plate or strainer while you let the fat rise to the surface. After the broth has settled for a few minutes, skim the fat from the surface of the soup.
Take all the flesh from the chicken and break it with your hands or a fork into small pieces. Put the meat back into the pot, give it a good stir, and it’s ready to serve. Goes nicely with crusty bread rolls and butter.
If you wanted it to be even more hearty, you could add some small pasta (or broken-up spaghetti) to the pot 15 minutes before the chicken is cooked.