Drugs, medicine, alcohol, all those things that soothe and relax the body when you’re feeling aches and pains, they’re really complicated. It’s not as if you can rustle up a bottle of sauvignon from scratch at a moments notice. The same goes for a paracetamol, a pint of decent beer or valium.
Thank goodness for chicken soup. It’s at least as effective as a glass of wine if you’re feeling shitty. The savoury aroma of fresh broth bubbling on the hob is as effective a relaxant for me as hearing a cork being pulled from a wine bottle (is that tragic? probably).
It’s a go-to dish when I’m weary, mainly because it’s so easy to do. A matter of chucking the chicken in a pot with some veg (pretty much any that come to hand) and simmering for an hour and half.
Assuming you use a decent organic or free-range bird, not one of those drug-raddled, water-stuffed, prematurely adult mutants that so many supermarkets are fond of, the resultant broth is gently, but deeply, meaty and warming. You can feel the nutritious liquid glow spreading out from your belly to reach into every part of your body.
God it feels good.
It’s not rocket science.
I use whatever I have to hand, in the past it’s just been ginger and garlic and the results have been good. But it’s always good to have at least an onion and carrot for the roundness and sweetness they impart. Aromatics such as ginger are good too.
This time I chucked in what I had, the tomato added a little piquant sweetness to the broth, the lemongrass a wonderful citrussy note. If I’d had them I would have put in ginger, celery, garlic and parsley as well. But there was none.
Long fat rice noodles added a bit of bulk and a welcome slithery chewiness. You get loads of moist tasty chicken left over for salads too.
For the broth
1 chicken (plus neck if you have it)
1 stick of lemongrass
Pinch of sea salt
To add to the soup
1 carrot – sliced
1 leek – sliced
Peel and chop vegetables into large chunks. Put the chicken in a large pot just big enough to hold it and the veg, tuck all the other broth ingredients around it.
Cover with water and bring to a low simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface, put a lid on, then leave it bubbling away for about an hour and half.
Remove the chicken, strain the liquid through a seive to remove the veg and herbs. Wipe out the pan and return the broth to it. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
Bring to a low boil, add the sliced carrot and leek and cook for 2 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for another 2 minutes. Pull the chicken from the carcass and pull into bite sized strips.
Add the noodles, vegetables and chicken to bowls, pour over the broth and eat.