For the past few years, I have been consciously living in a more simple way. I am naturally drawn to a slower life. I’d take a walk along the coast over a chance to go shopping any day. I’m terrible at parties where I might have to talk to people I don’t know and a quiet afternoon at home to read and cook is my idea of heaven. Especially if I’m making my slow chicken soup.
Long winter afternoons are perfect for slow cooking and seem to be the time of year we most need healing, nourishing meals. My slow chicken soup takes all afternoon to make but I don’t apologise for that. It does take time but is otherwise low effort, allowing an opportunity for snuggling up with a book and glass of wine by the fire and just enjoying some quiet time. I’d say the perfect recipe for winter wellbeing.
Slow Chicken Soup
There is nothing complicated about my chicken soup for the soul and it’s familiar, comforting flavours. Allow around four hours in total to make my nourishing chicken soup. Alternatively, you could use good quality store bought chicken stock and leftover cooked chicken and pick up the recipe at step 2.
- 1 medium sized whole chicken
- 3 carrots
- 6 celery stalks
- 2 leeks
- 2 bay leaves
- Fresh parsley
- ½ cup of white wine
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 piece of parmesan rind (see notes)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Good quality salt flakes
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup risoni pasta (optional)
- Juice of half a lemon
- Step 1: Making the base for your soup
- Heat some olive oil in a deep, heavy based casserole pot and warm over medium heat. Place the chicken, breast side down in the pot and allow it to cook for a few minutes until the skin turns golden. Turn the chicken over and allow to cook for a few minutes more before turning up the heat and adding the wine. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes before adding 1 carrot, 1 leek, 3 celery stalks all roughly chopped.
- Add enough cold water to cover the chicken (it’s okay if part of the breast is popping up out of the water a bit) and toss in the bay leaves and a few stalks of parsley. Bring to the boil, then turn heat to low, cover with a lid and let it bubble away slowly for around an hour and a half.
- Remove the chicken carefully to a large dish to cool down a little and then remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers. Cover and set aside. Using a ladle, scoop the beautiful, golden broth from the pot through a sieve and into a large jug. You will end up with between 2 and 3 litres of broth which will form the base of your soup. Discard the vegetables and herbs and wipe out the pot with some paper towel.
- Step 2: Preparing the Soup
- Prepare the remaining vegetables by peeling, then chopping them into your preferred size, I like a smallish dice to satisfy fussy eaters. Peel the garlic cloves but leave them whole.
- Heat some extra virgin olive oil in your pot and add the onion and whole garlic cloves (these will be removed later). Cook, stirring for a few minutes before adding the remaining vegetables. Season at this point with a teaspoon of salt flakes and a good grinding of black pepper. Cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, for a good ten minutes or until the vegetables are well softened.
- Remove the garlic from the pot and discard.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pot, increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Once it has reached a good bubble, turn the heat back to low and simmer for around 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
- You may notice some white, foamy scum appearing on the top of your soup which you can simply skim off with a spoon and discard.
- If you like to add pasta to your chicken soup, or rice for that matter, now is the time to do it. Pour in roughly half a cup and stir well. Cook for around ten minutes until the pasta is cooked.
- When the pasta is al dente, add the shredded chicken to the pot. Warm through for around five minutes before removing what is left of the parmesan rind and checking for seasoning. Don’t be afraid to add more salt and pepper to taste, a handful of chopped parsley and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to freshen everything up.
- Step 3: Serving the soup
- This is the moment you have been waiting for! Serve your steaming hot, chicken soup in deep bowls with some crunchy, sour dough garlic toasts on the side. My children like to grate over a good amount of parmesan cheese which I must agree, is delicious.
- Enjoy feeling nourished, restored and satisfied with your work in the kitchen. It’s truly worth it, isn’t it?
- Notes: If you use parmegiana reggiano cheese in your kitchen, be sure to keep the rinds. I store them in the freezer in a container for when I need them. They add a lovely depth of flavour to your soups and stews.