For crisp chicken skin, rub skin with 1 tbsp sea salt flakes, then spread over a wire rack and refrigerate to dry slightly (1-2 days). Heat 3cm oil in a deep-sided frying pan to 160C, cut skin into bite-sized pieces and fry in batches until crisp and golden (4-6 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on absorbent paper until required.
Place chicken in a saucepan large enough to fit snugly, add celery, carrot, onion, garlic, peppercorns and 2.5 litres water, or enough to just cover, and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through (30-40 minutes).
Remove chicken, coarsely shred meat (discard skin and bones) and set aside. Strain stock into a clean saucepan over medium-high heat (discard solids), skim fat from surface and simmer until reduced to 1.2 litres (20-25 minutes). Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add shallot and leek, stir until tender (8-10 minutes), add flour, increase heat to medium-high and stir until sand-coloured (2-4 minutes). Add reduced stock a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Season to taste, bring to the boil, add cream and one-quarter of the shredded chicken, reduce heat to medium and stir until leek is very tender (5-10 minutes). Blend soup in a blender, then strain through a fine sieve into a pan. Add remaining chicken and serve hot with crisp chicken skin and toasted sourdough.
Note Chicken skin is available from butchers; you’ll need to order it.
This recipe is from the August 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.