Monday, December 08, 2008

Recipe: Slacker Chicken Soup

I don't really do recipes, but I often make this very easy soup on a Monday morning, the day after we've had a roast chicken meal. It's thick, juicy and spicy.

- remains of a roast chicken
- a large onion
- two large potatoes
- frozen sweetcorn
- cumin, ginger, chilli powder, pepper and salt

Dismantle the chicken. Tip the juice from the chicken's roasting dish into a pot, take all the remaining meat off the chicken, and boil the bones and skin in a couple of pints of water.

This is the one bit where it pays not to be lazy. The meat comes off best when it's still warm, so do it right after the meal, before you wash up. Put a bay leaf in the pan if you've got one, put a lid on the saucepan, shut the kitchen door and simmer for maybe an hour. don't overdo it or the whole house will smell of chicken stock.

Leave the chicken meat and the pot of juice in the fridge. Drain the stock through a seive and bin the bones. Do this before you go to bed, if you remember. Again, it works best while the stock is warm, otherwise it sets and seiving it is messy.

Next day, you have all the components of a soup. They are on the counter next to the cooker in the photo.

The juice you poured off has turned into jelly, with fat on top. Free range chickens have better jelly and a lot less fat. Chop the onion up small, and sweat it in some of this fat.

Scoop off the rest of the fat, and save it for other jobs. I'm told chicken fat makes a good skin moisturiser, but I think it smells a bit odd for that.

While the onion is starting to cook, chop up the potatoes into little cubes. Add them to the saucepan, and when they have cooked a bit, add spice. I use a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of ginger, and a quarter of a teaspoon of chili. Use more, or less, as you like.

Then add the chicken. Chop it up into smallish bits. I save the best bits of chicken for people in the family who don't like soup, to have in sandwiches.

Pour the stock in, and add the jelly. Turn the gas up till it boils, then turn down, and simmer. You've now got enough time to do today's washing up, have a coffee and put a loaf in the bread-machine.

When the potatoes are cooked, turn the gas off and pour in a good big handful of frozen sweet corn. The hot soup will thaw it out, and it won't overcook when you heat the soup up later. Add pepper and salt as needed.

Playing (Jenga) with my food

After three days in China, my chopstick skills were good enough to take part in a game of Turnip Jenga.

It came to the table in a stack that was so suggestive of the game, it was the only thing we could do, really.