Who doesn’t like to sit down to a bowl of some variety of chicken noodle soup? Surely, only a hard-hearted soul would not yield to its comforting flavours and textures!
In the Wikipedia entry for chicken noodle soup, a section headed ‘In different cultures’ has 25 entries – including at least one from every continent except Antarctica – plus a sub-section in the United States entry for canned soup.
Over the years, Maggie and I have used two quite different recipes, one for each of us. Maggie’s version was relatively uncomplicated, as she usually made it to cater for the young palates of her daughter’s children.
I preferred a more elaborate production, which was adapted from a recipe by a local chef with both Italian and French heritage. You can find my recipe here.
A few weeks ago, Maggie found another recipe, from a renowned Sydney chef, that she thought might appeal to both of us, including my liking for multiple steps in a cooking method.
The first half of the recipe involves poaching a whole chicken to yield both the stock and the meat for the soup. We by-passed most of that rigmarole, using a blend of a good-quality commercial stock and some stock we had made using the carcass of a rooster or cockerel. (The latter is another story, saved for a rainy day!) And, for the meat, we simply poached some pieces of skinless chicken.
Secondly, we made several changes and additions to the recipe for the soup itself. We were very happy with the end result, so much so that we have it twice more since then. Maggie will take the latest batch to her daughter’s house today, to serve to the now more sophisticated palates of those grandchildren, for a school-holiday lunch.
Here is our recipe.
350-400g skinless chicken breast or thigh fillets
2 medium-sized leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways and finely sliced
2 long sticks of celery, chopped
½ large turnip, peeled and diced
6 cups (1.5 litres) chicken stock
100g spaghetti, broken into short pieces
100g fresh peas
1 cup shredded baby spinach leaves
salt and black pepper
- Well ahead of time, place chicken meat in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave the chicken in the cooking liquid for a further 10 minutes. When the meat has cooled, dice it finely.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan or stock pot, add the leek, celery and turning, and cook gently for 7-8 minutes to soften the vegetables.
- Meanwhile, cook the peas briefly in simmering water, ie a couple of minutes less than you would to serve. Drain and refresh with cold water to prevent them cooking further.
- Add stock and chicken meat to the large pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in salted, boiling water for about 5 minutes. This part-cooking step reduces the amount of starch released by the pasta into the actual soup.
- Add the pasta to the pan and simmer for a further 4 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper, then add the peas and spinach, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning, serve and enjoy the colourful mix of green and white ingredients.
If you happen to have an egg-white leftover from some other cooking activity, you could continue the colour theme by heating enough soup for two bowls and whisking the white through the hot liquid. This adds a lovely textural element as well.
Cheers for now!