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Aløft

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Chicken noodle soup


You'll need

2 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 celery stalk, finely chopped, plus celery heart leaves to serve 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 600 gm minced chicken 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves to serve 120 gm dried angel hair pasta   Chicken broth 1 chicken (about 2kg) 2 onions, coarsely chopped 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 1 carrot, coarsely chopped 1 leek, white part only, coarsely chopped 1 bouquet garni (see note)

Method

  • 01
  • For chicken broth, place chicken in a large saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil, strain (discard liquid), rinse chicken and place in a clean large saucepan. Add vegetables, bouquet garni and enough water to cover chicken (about 3-4 litres), bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low, keep at a rolling simmer and skim occasionally until stock is well flavoured (5-6 hours). Remove from heat, strain through a fine sieve (discard solids), set aside. Makes about 3 litres. Broth will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • 02
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add onion, celery and garlic and stir occasionally until translucent (5-7 minutes), remove from heat, then cool to room temperature (20-30 minutes).
  • 03
  • Combine minced chicken, onion mixture and parsley in a large bowl, season generously to taste. Roll into golf-ball-sized pieces and refrigerate until chilled (1 hour).
  • 04
  • Bring broth to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan over low heat, add chicken dumplings, cook for 1 minute. Add pasta and stir occasionally until pasta is al dente and dumplings are cooked through (4-5 minutes). Season to taste, divide among bowls, top with celery and parsley leaves, serve immediately.
Note For bouquet garni, gather 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, 6 sprigs thyme, 3 fresh bay leaves and 50gm celery stalks and leaves, and tie together with kitchen string.

Magical healing properties are attributed to many foods, but there’s perhaps none more legendary than chicken soup. For such a simple preparation, it has, over many years, become almost mythical in its ability to heal those struck with cold or flu.

It seems there’s a version in almost every culture. The Chinese make theirs from old hens and season it with fragrant ginger, star anise and sesame oil. In Germany, it’s dished up with the addition of semolina dumplings or Spätzle, while the Hungarians swear by chunky pieces of chicken liver and heart along with vegetables such as carrot, celery, parsnip and celeriac. Avgolemono, the Greek rendition, is spiked with lemon and thickened with egg and rice (it’s also thought to have the ability to soothe a hangover).

In the Jewish kitchen, there’s a virtual roll-call of variations. It can be served with matzo balls, dumplings, or flat egg noodles. A traditional garnish was unlaid chicken eggs, taken from the hen and boiled in the soup.

Ours is a take on the version popular in the USA and Canada – chicken noodle soup, amped up with tender chicken dumplings.

Regardless of cultural roots, the success of chicken soup relies on finding a good quality chicken. It’s possibly the only occasion where the phrase “old boiler” is complimentary, because that’s exactly what you want for a great chicken soup – an older bird. If you’re unable to find such a bird, which is highly likely unless you have chooks of your own, the next best thing is to go organic.

Remove any fatty deposits from the bird (usually to be found around the neck) and blanch it quickly to eliminate yet more of the fat. Next, use your chook to create an intense stock. Start with cold water, and add aromatics (bay leaf, thyme, parsley stalks) and your standard stock vegies. Simmer gently for as long as you can until the meat falls from the bone, skimming the surface intermittently to remove scum and oil. Strain this flavoursome concoction (some cooks like to break the flesh of the chicken into small pieces to add back to the soup) and garnish as you will. Medicinal properties or not, this is one broth set to simmer on our stoves this winter.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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