Thursday, July 24, 2014

Easy Chicken Soup Recipe


When time is at an all-time low, I rely very heavily on soup to stay nourished, fed and happy. It's convenient and quick to warm up for lunch or dinner. If I'm out at an event or working late away from my home office, it's easy for my husband to warm up soup for his dinner. In short, it's a lifesaver for busy cooks. When I find that time is abundant, I tend to make soup in batches and store in the refrigerator for the following week or freeze it in single or double portions for lunches and dinners. It's often how I spend a Sunday afternoon… I put the soup on to boil and get busy with my regular household chores. 

I never loved soup until I started making it myself. Freshly made soup tastes better and you feel better for eating it because you know exactly what's in it and sitting down with a bowl of your latest creation is like celebrating an accomplishment. I originally began making soups to get veggies into my diet. I'm not the best vegetable eater and I worry about my nutrition because of it, so I found soup to be a great way of hiding the things I don't like. Now I eat soup because I crave it. It's the very definition of comfort food.

Though many people aren't the biggest fans, I usually have a soup in the fridge or boiling on the stove and I find that with the addition of a little cheese board and a sliced baguette or crackers, my guests always love it, even the soup nay-sayers. It's great to have on hand for when people stop by unannounced… They'll leave full, grateful and happy.

I do occasionally make my own stock and I also have a soup recipe I love that involves first making the stock with a whole chicken and then turning it into soup, but that's rather time consuming and laborious work. I love it - being in the kitchen pottering away never seems like hard or torturous work to me, but sometimes there just isn't a moment to spare for such indulgences and a worth alternative is necessary. I was offered the opportunity to try the Kallo Very Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock (℅ Kallo) and that's what I've used in this recipe. As far as stocks go, this is one of my all-time favorites and now a staple in my larder. The low salt content means that not only is it potentially healthier than other stocks, but it also allows the cook to control the level of salt in the recipe and ultimately, the flavor as well. 

I use a food processor to make this a bit faster, but it's not entirely necessary. It does cut down the time required, but you could just as easily chop the chicken and vegetables.


Ingredients

6 boneless chicken thigh fillets
100 grams conchigliette shells (or other small soup pasta)
2 celery sticks, cut in half
8 baby carrots (or chef's carrots)
1,500 ml water (or 6 cups)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Plain olive oil (not extra-virgin)
Fresh tarragon leaves (optional garnish)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Method
1. Prepare the stock by dissolving 3 Kallo Very Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock Cubes in 1,500ml (6 cups) of recently boiled water. To speed up the process, mix well using a whisk.

2. Pour the stock into a large stock pot with a lid, add the chicken thigh fillets and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and clamp the lid on the pot. Leave to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

3. After simmering, skim the fat if any off the top of the stock & chicken and discard it. I rarely have any fat to skim from this recipe.

4. Remove the chicken thighs from the stock and set aside in a bowl. It's okay if they're really wet - you'll want the extra stock & juices later.
5. Add the Cayenne pepper, salt, a good few grinds of pepper and a light drizzle of regular olive oil to the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and clamp on the lid.

6. Meanwhile, add the chicken and any remaining stock or juices in the bowl to the food processor along with the celery, carrots and garlic. Whizz it until you reach the desired consistency. If the mixture seems too dry, you can add a bit of water or chicken stock to the food processor. (If you don't have a food processor, just chop the vegetables and chicken to the desired sizes.)

7. Add the chicken and vegetables mixture to the soup and continue cooking until pasta is soft and vegetables reach the desired consistency. If you find the soup is getting too thick for your liking, add water or stock to the mixture as needed.

8. Finish with salt & pepper to taste if necessary and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves. If you don't have tarragon, fresh thyme is also a lovely accompaniment to this soup, but neither are required and it's just as tasty without them.

If you have leftovers, this soup usually keeps for me for at least a week in the fridge. It also freezes nicely. Before warming it up, I add about 1/4 cup of water for every bowl full I re-heat and a bit more salt. It seems to get even better as the week goes on!


As always, it is important for your safety to ensure that all chicken is properly cooked before serving.
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