To make a delicious chicken vegetable soup for six cold diners, you will need:1kg chicken wings and backs
- 3 chicken breast fillets
- 4 onions
- 3 carrots
- 20mm fresh root ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1,5l water
- 500ml dry white wine, fresh from the tetrapak
- 25ml-50ml good quality medium-cream sherry
- 250g button mushrooms
- 3 baby courgettes
- Butter or extra virgin olive oil on demand
- 200g angel hair pasta (optional)
- 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper on demand
Of course, the real beginner’s soup comes in a can. The next level up involves a stock cube made with water you have boiled without assistance. But beginner’s soup with real ingredients from scratch starts here.
It originates as chicken stock, then proceeds to chicken and vegetable soup. When I was seven years old, and my grandmother seemed about three hundred, we ate chicken feet soup whenever we visited her. This was a surreal experience from which I have yet to recover. These days, as a crazed upmarket alternative, I make chicken stock out of whole wings and backs sourced from my supermarket.
Attack the whole wings and backs with a heavy knife or cleaver, chopping through the bone to allow the later release of marrow. Peel and quarter two of the onions, peel and crush two of the garlic cloves, peel and thinly slice the raw ginger, scrape clean the carrots, then chop them up roughly.
Add these ingredients to 1,5l–2l of fresh water plus the dry white wine, and bring to a rolling boil. Immediately drop the heat to a gentle simmer, skim off the scum, then leave the stock pot to bubble away quietly for 45–60 minutes. Overcooking may leach out bitter flavours; you don’t want this, so watch the clock. When done, drain through a sieve and dump the solids. Pour the liquid back into the pot and fit a lid for later in the proceedings.
In a heavy-based frying pan, sweat two cloves of garlic and two peeled, thinly sliced onions in 20ml–30ml of extra virgin olive oil or butter over medium to low heat. When the onion slices are translucent, add the halved or quartered button mushrooms plus the very thinly sliced baby courgettes and stir-fry them with the onions and garlic for three to five minutes – no more. Remove and reserve under cover.
Thinly slice the chicken breasts and stir-fry them until done. Add the cooked chicken breast slices plus the sweated vegetables to the stock. Bring this back to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Add the juice of the lemon and the optional sherry, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve in deep bowls.
Freshly made angel hair pasta will add to the experience. Take care to cook it separately to prevent the soup from becoming cloudy.
David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer.