Friday, 4 October 2013

What came first; the chicken or the egg noodle?

Is it just me or has someone turned the heating off? Over the last few days I’ve definitely detected a slight chill in the air; the nights are drawing in and my motivation to leave the house of an evening is seriously waning. These chilly times leave me craving my over the knee socks and a bowl of something warm, comforting and filling on my lap. Sometimes simplicity is best; as much as I love trying out new, interesting flavours and recipes I will always come back to the classics, such as my recipe for chicken noodle soup. Exciting and innovative it may not be but the classic flavor combinations work so well together that it really does taste like happiness in a bowl. It’s also on the official list of cures for man flu….fact…what more could you hope for?

Sometimes I think I might be slightly addicted to soup. As addictions go, I guess it’s not such a terrible one to have, in my 28 years on this Earth it’s yet to get me into any kind of trouble. In fact, I think soup addiction should be encouraged here in the UK, especially during the winter. I think a bout of widespread soup addiction would boost the morale of the nation through these long, cold winter months. So, lets all get addicted to soup this winter, make a facebook page, hashtag the hell out of it on twitter, buy a t-shirt, most importantly make a pot of soup…

This is one of my favourite soups to make (quite the claim from an avid soup maker). Not only is it souper delicious (see what I did there) it’s also healthy and pretty cheap to knock up too. I make a massive batch and freeze whatever I can’t eat throughout the week. It means I’ve always got a portion or too on standby for a speedy supper or lunch. What’s more, I’ve yet to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy this soup (apart from maybe vegetarians) even the fussy little nippers I’ve cooked it for have tucked in with glee - it really is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The Mother is always straight round when she hears there is a pot of this on the go.

NB. If you get bored of this soup halfway through the batch (this isn’t actually a real thing that could happen) or just fancy a change of flavor then add a couple of tbsp each of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sweet chilli sauce to this along with the juice of a lime and a chopped fresh chilli too, if you like it hot. Finish with a handful of fresh coriander leaves and you have an Asian inspired bowl of goodness.

Enjoy and have a lovely weekend!

Nevs old fashioned chicken noodle soup
Makes about 8-10 portions, depending how hungry you are

1 large chicken, mine weighed just over 2kg’s.
1 carrot, roughly chopped- all the veg in this bit are roughly chopped actually, save me repeating myself.
1 leek
1 onion
2 celery stick
about 10 peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 head garlic, halved through the middle, skin left on
few sprigs thyme and parsley leaves
1 chicken stock cube (I use the knorr chicken stock pots)
Good splash white wine, if you have some open
1 large carrot, diced (mine was well LARGE, see pic)
1 large leek, finely sliced any dirty bits discarded but use the whole leek, not just the white parts, the green bits have feelings too you know.
2 heads corn, kernals removed or a large handful frozen sweetcorn, about 250g
3 bundles thin egg noodles
fresh parsley, chopped

1 Put all the broth ingredients, along with a good pinch of salt, in a large pan. Cover with cold water, about 2-3 litres. If you have a pressure cooker, use this, it will take 30 mins on high pressure, then release slowly. If you don’t have one, get one. No, just joking, bring up to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for about 1hr 45 mins, until cooked through, adjusting the time if your chicken is slightly smaller or larger.

2 Remove the chicken and allow to cool slightly. Strain the stock into a couple of jugs or a big bowl. You want to let it cool to room temp then get it into the fridge so the fat can solidify and you can remove it all. I do this the day before and leave it overnight. It means you can literally just spoon of the layer of solidified white fat, leaving you with a crystal clear, jelly like chicken broth that’s virtually fat free and full of chicken flavor. If you try and get the fat off before, you’ll lose loads of the broth, and that isn’t a good thing. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat. Set aside in the fridge until ready to make the soup.

3 This is the easy bit! Put your veg and stock in a pan, bring up to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 mins, or until the carrots are soft (this will depend on your adaptation of diced). Add the chicken, noodles and most of the parsley, season, It will need a good amount of salt and pepper here, so keep tasting and adjusting till the flavor is good. Turn off the heat but leave on the hob with the lid on for 10 mins. The noodles will soak & soften and the soup will cool from mouth burningly boiling to edible. Serve with the rest of the parsley sprinkled on top, I made some baguettes to go with it, but you don't really need bread. Divide any leftovers into individual portions and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. 

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