I spent the last week in Austria, accompanying the children I am teaching on a skiing holiday with their parents and some family friends. Unfortunately part way through the week, most of the adults were struck down with a fever and so I valiantly followed the fearless children in their endeavors off-piste… In order to rally some more support in this, I decided to make my chicken soup – something the Italians are complete strangers to, and hope that it’s comfort giving warmth would provide me with more adults the following day!
Chicken soup (serves a lot)
5 chicken thighs and legs (essentially 2 and a half whole chickens, minus the breasts), 2 leeks, half a kilo of carrots, 1kg of potatoes, a stick of celery, a big handful of kale chopped fine with stalks removed, bulb of garlic.
Firstly, roast the chicken with butter under the skin and seasoned with plenty of black pepper and rock salt. Cut the garlic bulb horizontally and put this in with the chicken. Leave to cool and then pick the bones clean. Put the meat to one side and the bones in a saucepan with chopped celery, a chopped carrot, the kale stalks and the tops of the leeks. Cover with water and simmer for ages, until you’ve made a tasty stock. Strain the liquid from the stock veg and bones, put the liquid back in the pan with cubes of potato, the sliced carrots, kale, leek and chicken meat. Add the soft flesh of the garlic roasted earlier, plenty of salt and pepper and boil until the potatoes and carrots are soft. Serve with plenty of fresh, crusty bread and a glass of a full bodied red wine.
My mother’s variation is to use sweetcorn not carrots and to blend the whole lot until smooth. I remember it fondly as a child, coming in from a cold and rainy day at school and having this soup to keep away the winter chills. I hope it warms you’re cockles as well.