Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.
Chicken soup recipes exist in their tens of thousands and more, but many of them in the present have become excessively complicated and tend to employ less-than-fresh ingredients. Very often, the best recipes of any type contain only a few ingredients and are cooked in the simplest fashion possible. The whole idea of this recipe is about employing simplicity to recreate the true and authentic taste of chicken soup of yesteryear. It is the perfect recipe to make in those late summer months when the nights grow that little bit cooler and locally grown vegetables are available in their freshest form.
Heritage vegetables are simply those which have not been tampered with in any way by modern scientific techniques to allegedly improve upon their size, appearance and flavour. They are often unavailable in conventional supermarkets but can regularly be found at farmers' markets, or best of all, homegrown in a domestic garden. The carrots used in this recipe may look unusual but records of purple and pale yellow carrots predate those of orange ones by many years and these tasty little beauties truly provide an authentic carrot taste never before experienced by many people. The carrots and the potatoes used in this chicken soup recipe were dug from the ground a matter of minutes before being added to the pot, ensuring their natural sugars and vitamins are fully incorporated in the finished dish.
- 1 three pound, free range, organic chicken (leg meat only will ultimately be used for soup)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil for rubbing on to chicken
- 1 large standard carrot
- ½ medium onion
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 4 small to medium mixed heritage carrots
- 6 baby new potatoes
The chicken for chicken soup is very often poached, fulfilling the dual purpose of cooking the chicken and forming the chicken broth in one simple step. In this instance, the chicken was firstly cooked by roasting, with the bones subsequently used for making the broth. The bird was firstly seasoned in the cavity with salt and pepper before being rubbed all over with olive oil to help crisp up the skin. The bird was then laid on a roasting tray before the breasts and legs were seasoned with some more salt only. It was roasted in an oven preheated to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes per pound and 20 over. This three-pound bird therefore required one hour and twenty minutes in the oven.
While the 20 minute multiples rule is a great way to ensure perfect chicken roasting, it is still imperative to check that the bird is fully cooked when it is removed from the oven. One simple way of doing this is is to pierce the thickest part of each thigh with a skewer, press down lightly over the puncture and ensure the juices run clear.
Turning the chicken over breasts side down helps the breast meat stay moist as the bird rests. Cover with foil and allow to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes.
When the chicken is rested, start disassembling it by gently twisting the wings and pulling them free. The opportunity should then be taken to pluck the meat from the back of the bird. Do not underestimate the amount of meat that can be found on this part of the carcass, especially the two little discs of flesh around an inch or so in diameter which represent possibly the tastiest, juiciest and most succulent meat of all on the entire chicken.
Turn the chicken carefully on to its back and slice through the flesh around each leg/body joint. Gently twist and pop the legs free. Cut away the wishbone before slicing each breast fillet free, using the bones of the ribcage to guide the knife.
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The carcass and leg bones of the chicken are subsequently used in forming the chicken broth for the soup. This can be done immediately but in this instance, the items were refrigerated overnight that the soup itself could be made on day two.
The breast fillets from the bird and the other meat collected from the carcass can be used for any purpose of choice. It is only the legs which are subsequently to be used in the actual soup and in this instance were refrigerated in a plastic dish overnight.
Peel the skin from the chicken legs and discard. Pluck the meat off in bite-sized pieces, re-cover and set aside until required. Put the bones in to a large soup pot along with the main carcass and wing bones. Wash, top and tail the large carrot before roughly chopping. Add to the pot along with the peeled and chopped onion half, the bay leaves, the peppercorns and around a teaspoon of salt.
Pour five pints of cold water in to the pot and put it on a high heat until the liquid starts to simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to achieve as gentle a simmer as possible and leave to cook in this way for one hour.
A large slotted spoon should be used to remove the bones and vegetables from the broth. These should then be discarded.
The hot chicken broth should be carefully ladled in to a fine sieve suspended over a bowl to get rid of any remaining solid impurities.
The heritage carrots and baby potatoes should be washed very thoroughly—scrubbed, if necessary—in lukewarm water. Neither the carrots nor the potatoes should be peeled.
Chop the carrots in to approximately one inch chunks. Quarter the potatoes. Pour the chicken broth back in to the (washed) soup pot and add the chopped vegetables. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes.
Carefully add the chicken meat to the broth and softened vegetables. Stir well and continue to simmer for a further few minutes to ensure the chicken is fully heated all the way through. It can then be ladled in to serving bowls immediately, or cooled and stored in the fridge in a suitable container for up to a couple of days before being fully reheated to serve.