As the weather cools down and the days become shorter, it means we’re heading into soup time and already I have made two big pots.
But my soup actually starts with cooking dinner – boiled thyme chicken.
I don’t know where the recipe came from as my Mum has been cooking it for years – and I’m sure it has evolved somewhat. And it’s a one-pot wonder – even better!
In a large pot place one chicken, enough water to cover the chicken, two bay leaves, 12 peppercorns, two whole cloves of garlic, squeeze of lemon juice, four large stems of parsley, handful of fresh thyme stems.
Bring to the boil. Then add large chopped pieces of celery and carrot, whole onions and whole peeled potatoes – enough for however many you are cooking for.
Bring back to the boil and simmer until cooked – usually about an hour.
When cooked, this chicken is so moist, succulent and falling apart, and has so much flavour!
I usually make a white parsley sauce and cook some greens to go with it – either beans or broccolini.
But don’t throw away the cooking water. It will become the stock for your soup. I usually pour it into a sieve placed over a large bowl.
Then I let it cool down before placing in the fridge. The next day a thick layer of fat has formed on the top and I scoop this off carefully
Now you have two options: you can either make soup now or you can further refine your stock.
The technique is ice-filtration.
I have Heston Blumenthal to thank for this technique. I saw it on one of his TV programs and have used it ever since. And I have read it in more detail in his book ‘Heston Blumenthal at home’ (published by Bloomsbury).
Pour the stock into a freezer container and freeze solid – I usually use an old square ice cream container. Then thaw out the block in a sieve lined with muslin over a bowl. Pop it into the fridge as this can take days.
Once thawed, in the muslin you’ll find a lot of impurities and scum – stuff you don’t really want in your soup.
And you are left with a beautiful amber consommé.
This is what you want to use for your soup.
The chicken vegie soup is pretty simple. I just chop up whatever spare vegies I have and some pieces of cooked chicken. Occasionally I’ll add a little bit of pasta.
Or you can use it for something more spectacular.
From a one-pot wonder, to a beautiful consommé, to a heartening soup!