A significant proportion of the food that we cook comes under the heading of ‘comfort food’. Think minestrone, roast chicken, bolognese sauce, et al. Lately, we have been preparing a lot more of these types of dishes. Not for us, but for two of Maggie’s colleagues, who are in great need of comfort.
One is a youngish woman, married barely two years, whose husband is gravely ill with an aggressive cancer. Their extended families live in a town located a day’s drive from Melbourne, so their local support network is relatively small.
The other colleague is being treated for breast cancer and her prospects are reasonably good. However, the treatment process has debilitating side-effects and she is the single mother of two pre-teen boys. Yes, she has the benefit of living in her home city, with family and friends around her, but it is still a tough gig.
So, as we like to do in such situations, we’ve been preparing and packaging a range of easy-to-put-on-the-table dishes, including minestrone, lasagne, quiche, poached pears and, for the ailing husband, basil pesto, one of his favourite foodstuffs.
Then I remembered another hearty soup, from the same genre as minestrone, which I hadn’t made since my parents went into care four years ago. The original recipe, now modified in various ways, came from an Italian cook and she called it a ‘brodo’, which literally means ‘broth’. But we won’t quibble about such things!
On this occasion, I made it using chicken breast meat but the flavour might be better if you use thigh meat. And it definitely needs plenty of seasoning, especially if your stock has a low salt content.
If I make it again, we’ll add some photos to this post.
½ kg chicken winglets
½ kg skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
salt & pepper
2 litres chicken stock
½ cup arborio rice
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
3-4 cups water
4 sprigs oregano or marjoram )
4 sprigs thyme ) wrap in muslin as
1 fresh bay leaf ) a bouquet garni
4 sprigs parsley )
½ cup corn kernels
50g spaghetti, broken into short pieces, or 50g rice-shaped pasta
2 medium zucchini, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 170C. Toss chicken winglets in 10ml of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes.
- Place wings and chicken meat in a large pot and cover with stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain liquid, reserve the meat, and set the liquid aside to cool overnight, before skimming off any fat the next day. When the meat has cooled, dice the larger pieces and remove the bones and gristle from the winglets.
- The next day, cook the rice in plenty of salted water until it has released most of its starch (about 12 minutes). This will prevent the soup from becoming too gluggy.
- Heat 50ml olive oil in the stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, then add fennel, carrot and celery and cook for 12 minutes. Add chicken meat, reserved stock, part-cooked rice, water, bouquet garni, corn, pasta and zucchini and bring to the boil over high heat, stirring to ensure the rice and pasta don’t stick to the bottom.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Add peas and season well. Simmer for a further 7 minutes.