These are two of my favourite soups. Chicken broth is perfect for when any member of the family is suffering from Man Flu (I’m not being sexist, I’m the worst offender) because it tastes both comforting and cleansing.
Palestine Soup – so known because it’s made with Jerusalem artichokes rather than for any reasons of geography – I think is one of the most delicious ever invented.
The flavour is subtle and the famously flatulent effect of the artichokes seems to be somewhat reduced by making them into soup, though I make no promises.
Chicken and Vegetable Broth
This soup can be tweaked to suit your mood.
Add fresh vegetables at the end, just cooked, so they’re still al dente – try leeks or asparagus.
Make avgolemono by swirling in some beaten egg and lemon juice just before serving.
Bulk it up with pearl barley, rice, or broken-up pasta or make light little parsley dumplings to float on the top.
Give it an Asian twist by adding lemongrass, fresh root ginger, a few slices of chilli, chopped coriander and finely sliced spring onions.
Or go for an Italian flavour by cooking a rind of Parmesan in the stock and adding a drizzle of pesto when you serve it.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to have a strongly chicken-flavoured broth as your basis, so stock cubes alone won’t do here.
You can poach an entire chicken, which gives you lots of lovely meat to do interesting things with (I favour a stingingly-hot garlic mayonnaise and steamed veg in the style of a Grand Aioli) or keep it simple with a few chicken joints, as here.
Ingredients for the basic broth:
1k bone-in free range chicken joints (legs, wings, thighs)
1 large onion, topped and tailed, skin on, roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, washed and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
A handful of chestnut mushrooms or mushroom stalks, sliced
The stalks from a bunch of parsley (you can keep the leaves for stirring in at the end)
A splash of dry sherry (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 chicken stock cube (optional), crumbled
Water to cover
Put all the ingredients into a large stockpot and cover with water. If you add salt, don’t overdo it, as you’ll be reducing the stock: you can add more at the end.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for an hour and a half, skimming any scum off from time to time.
Strain the stock into a large bowl, set the chicken aside and discard the veg.
Put the stock back into the cleaned pan and reduce until you have a strong, chickeny broth.
Add any extra veg from the suggestions at the top and cook until they’re done to your liking.
Remove the chicken meat from the bones, cut into neat pieces and add to the broth to warm through. Check the seasoning and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Drop in the dumplings now if you’re using them and pop a lid on until they’ve fluffed up.
Serve the broth in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of herbs, a tiny squeeze of lemon juice and if you’re using it, a drizzle of pesto.
My copy of Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book falls open at this page. Perfection. I have reduced the fat content slightly. Vegetarians can of course omit the bacon and use vegetable stock.
500g (1lb) Jerusalem artichokes
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 stick of celery, cleaned and chopped
2 rashers of unsmoked bacon
1 litre (1 3/4 pt) chicken stock or water
1/4 litre (8 fl oz) milk, optional
Salt and pepper
A few tablespoons of cream
Chopped fresh parsley and chives
Scrub the artichokes and boil them in salted water for 5-10 minutes then run them under the cold tape and peel and dice them.
Melt the butter in a pan and put in the artichokes together with the chopped onion, garlic and celery. Put a lid on and sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time.
Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes more.
Pour in the stock or water and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked.
Blend, then reheat, adding more water or milk to taste until you get the required consistency.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, add the herbs and cream. This soup freezes beautifully.