Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous

by Kristin on June 28, 2012

The first time I met Shelia Kiely at a food blogging event in Ireland and she let it slip that she has six kids, I’m sure I had the same reaction she gets from just about everyone: “Six kids?” What’s more, that number includes not one, but two sets of twins. And as if being a mother to six children and running her own food safety management consultancy wasn’t enough, she somehow found the time to write a cookbook, Gimme the Recipe, in addition to writing her blog of the same name. So to ask the question I’m sure everyone is wondering: Shelia, where do you get the energy? Or at the very least, what brand of coffee are you drinking?

I think it’s fair to say that Shelia takes the whole working mom thing and raises it to the nth degree. Not surprisingly, her book focuses on good, wholesome, no‐nonsense food. There are lots of family‐friendly and comfort food classics, from soups to stews, meat pies to pasta bakes, and every working mom’s favorite, one‐pot casseroles. But Shelia caters to grown‐ups too with dinner party and girls’ night in suggestions as well as helpful meal planners for special occasions like birthday parties, coffee mornings and the holidays. She covers all the bases.

As for me, I made these easy, tasty, moreish Moroccan meatballs from her book and we all enjoyed them so much that I promptly made them again the next week. With two young kids as judges, it’s as ringing an endorsement as you can get for a family cookbook.

If you like this, you might also like Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Mint Couscous, or see this post for a round‐up of our other meatball recipes.

Moroccan Meatballs
adapted from Gimme the Recipe by Shelia Kiely

Because I was feeling lazy and didn’t fancy lugging out my food processor to make a paste, like Shelia’s original recipe calls for, I adapted it by adding the onion and garlic to the sauce instead of to the meatballs. I also used garam masala instead of the cumin and cinnamon called for (you can see the original recipe here). I serve this with couscous studded with chopped apricots, raisins, a finely chopped sliver of preserved lemon and chopped fresh coriander (aka cilantro).

Serves 4 to 6

2 lb (1 kg) minced lamb
2 tablespoons garam masala
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 x 1 inch (3 cm) thumb‐width piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 x 14 oz (400 g) cans of chopped tomatoes
1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
chopped fresh cilantro (a.k.a. coriander), to garnish
couscous (see intro above) or rice, to serve

Place the minced lamb in a large bowl along with 1 tablespoon of the garam masala and some salt and pepper, mixing well to combine. Form the mixture into small meatballs about the size of golf balls.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat (don’t add any oil because the lamb will throw off a lot of fat). Add the meatballs to the pan in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) and cook for about 5 minutes, until browned all over. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and set aside and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy‐based pot or casserole, heat the oil over a medium‐low heat. Add in the onion and a pinch of salt to stop it from browning and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add in the garlic, chilli (if using), ginger and the remaining 1 tablespoon garam masala and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the chicken stock and season to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and add in the browned meatballs. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with couscous or rice and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro (coriander).

 

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Chicken Canzanese

by Kelly on June 14, 2012

After years of minimal sleep and constant hovering over infants and toddlers, I really appreciate the little things about having older kids. Things like talking with my husband over coffee in the morning (thank goodness for Saturday morning cartoons) or staying up late to watch a boring British mystery movie knowing the kids will sleep in past 7 a.m.  Now that both kids are officially out of diapers, feed themselves, and can talk (not necessarily without whining), a small amount of free (me!) time has even crept into my weekends. This Sunday, I had a chance to sit on the couch and watch a cooking show on television. I know this doesn’t seem like much of an event, but for any reader with young children, it’s momentous. Sam joined me on the couch, pretty unimpressed with the looks of the recipe until I explained that the chefs were cooking the chicken in broth. Sam immediately perked up at the mention of broth. The kid loves anything with broth in it. Weird, I know.

I had most of the ingredients in the house (and garden) to make this Italian‐style braised chicken dish and what I didn’t have, I left out. My stripped down version of the recipe came out great. The chicken was tender, the skin still slightly crunchy, the sauce silky and rich, and the sage and lemon adding a nice spike of freshness. Definitely a keeper.

Italian Braised Chicken

Chicken Canzanese
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 4 to 6

I served this initially with boiled red potatoes and sauteed kale. For leftovers the following night, I made polenta and peas instead. Though both meals were eaten and enjoyed, we slightly preferred the polenta and peas combination.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz (60 g) prosciutto, cut into 1/4‐inch cubes or, if thinly sliced, 1/4‐inch strips
4 medium garlic cloves , sliced thin lengthwise
8 bone‐in, skin‐on chicken thighs (about 3 lbs/1.4 kg), trimmed of excess fat and skin
ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unbleached all‐purpose flour
1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
2 cups (475 ml) low‐sodium chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
12 whole fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Adjust the oven rack to lower‐middle position and heat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy‐bottomed ovensafe skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic slices and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and prosciutto to a small bowl and set aside. Do not rinse the pan.

Increase the heat to medium‐high; add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat until just smoking. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it with ground black pepper. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook it without moving until it is well browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and brown on the second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a large plate.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Sprinkle the flour over the fat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add the wine and broth; bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, 3 minutes. Stir in the cloves, sage leaves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and reserved prosciutto and garlic. Nestle the chicken into the liquid, skin side up (skin should be above the surface of liquid so it stays crisp), and bake, uncovered, until the meat offers no resistance when poked with a fork but is not falling off bones, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Check the chicken after 15 minutes; broth should be barely bubbling. If bubbling vigorously, reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C).

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Remove and discard the sage leaves, cloves, and bay leaves. Place the skillet over high heat and bring the sauce to boil. Cook until the sauce is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups (350 ml), 2 to 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce again and add the remaining lemon juice if desired (I like a nice kick of citrus with chicken). Pour the sauce around the chicken and serve.

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You haven’t seen it yet, but I make a pretty fabulous African influenced braised chicken dish. I adore the succulent melt‐in‐your pieces of chicken that are baked slow and low with a spicy, sweet peanut butter sauce and vegetables. Unfortunately, it’s so gosh darn good that I am always too hungry to take the time to photograph it properly. It is rather “rustic” with lots of shades of brown, which certainly doesn’t help its lens appeal. So tonight, instead of snapping a couple dozen more pictures of the poor peanut butter sauced chicken, I thought I’d experiment with a vegetarian spin on the dish. The bright orange sweet potatoes do look–if not exactly stunning–far better than the chicken, especially when served alongside a little cooked quinoa. It made for a lovely weeknight meal, though I couldn’t convince my almost‐three year old to try the sauce, even with the promise of peanut butter inside.

 

Baked Sweet Potatoes with West African‐Style Peanut Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light, October 2006

This recipe would make a nice light lunch. For a more robust dinner, serve alongside a piece of grilled fish or chicken with steamed vegetables or a green salad.

Serves 6 as a side dish, 3 as a main course

6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs/1.5 kg)
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
8 oz (225 g) tomato sauce
1/3 cup (80 g) peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
chopped fresh cilantro
cooked quinoa or rice (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Pierce the potatoes with a fork, and bake at 375° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool the potatoes slightly.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium‐low heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup water and the next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring until smooth; bring to a simmer. Cook 2 minutes or until thick. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.

If serving with quinoa or rice as a main course, gently cut the potatoes cross‐wise into thick slices. Place the potatoes on the quinoa then top with the sauce and cilantro to taste. If serving the potatoes as a side dish, split the potatoes lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Spoon about 1/4 cup sauce into each potato. Top each serving with a bit of cilantro.

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Chicken and Kale Casserole

by Kelly on April 26, 2012

I know this casserole is not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen on this blog, but sometimes the most homely looking food is the best‐tasting food. And for goodness sake, it’s a casserole. No one expects it to be photogenic, right? Despite it’s ho hum appearance, this baked chicken and rice dish is one of my favorite concoctions. It tastes like the delicious church potluck dishes that I loved as a child but without the Velveeta cheese and frozen broccoli that I detest as an adult. Except for the handful of shredded cheese tucked gently into the rice mixture, it’s healthy — kale, chicken breast, and brown rice — and doesn’t depend on sodium‐laden canned soup for its creaminess. Best of all, it makes for an easy weeknight dinner. You can make the casserole in advance, store it in the fridge overnight and simply throw it into the oven half an hour before mealtime. You don’t even have to come up with a side dish since the casserole covers your four basic food groups.

Chicken and Kale Casserole

This recipe is highly adaptable. Experiment with different types or quantities of meat, cheese, and veggies. Broccoli and cheddar in place of the kale and mozzarella is a great combination. Omit the chicken and it’s an easy vegetarian meal. You can also substitute cooked white rice or pasta for the brown rice, though the texture of the casserole will be softer.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, or 1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed and leaves chopped roughly
8 oz (225 g) crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons (50 g) butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) milk
2 cups (200 g) cooked brown rice, small grain preferably
8 oz (225 g) cooked chicken breast, diced and if not already seasoned, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
4 oz (100 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 2 quart casserole or a 11 in x 7 in baking dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium‐high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in the kale and cook 1–2 minutes, until it starts to wilt. Stir in the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more, until the mushrooms start to soften. Season with salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat.

While the vegetables cook, make the cream sauce. First, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly. The mixture should bubble and cook for 1–2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the mixture or let it take on too much color. Slowly pour in the milk to the flour/butter mixture, whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken as it cooks. You may need to add a bit more milk if the mixture seems too thick. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper to the sauce. Let it simmer for about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Gently stir in the rice and chicken to the vegetable mixture. Fold in the shredded cheese, then stir in the cream sauce. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Pour the mixture into the greased casserole or baking dish and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. If serving the next day, cool the casserole, then refrigerate.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 10 minutes more, until bubbly and slightly golden around the edges.

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Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

by Kristin on April 18, 2012

The first recipe I ever asked my mom for was her turkey meatballs. The first food I fed my infant daughter that wasn’t from Annabel Karmel’s baby food cookbook was those same turkey meatballs, pureed in the food processor, which she gobbled up with delight. And if you’ve come to visit me from America, chances are I made a big batch of meatballs, kept warm in the slow cooker in their sauce, so that dinner could be on the table as soon as I could boil the pasta when the jet lag finally started to get the better of you.

Over the years I chopped and changed my mom’s original recipe until I eventually hit on this, my own version, which kicks things up a notch. I kept in loads of garlic and Parmesan but swapped the turkey, which I came to find too dry, for pork and ramped up the flavor with fennel seeds and lots of herbs. It’s now my go‐to classic comfort food dish. And if and when my kids ever ask for my meatball recipe when they’re older, this is the one I’ll give them, which I’m sure they’ll in turn tweak and make their own.

We love meatballs! Here are some more recipes for you to try:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Makes 40 to 50 small meatballs

My go‐to tomato sauce is Marcella Hazan’s famous recipe, but feel free to use your own favorite recipe or even jarred sauce. To add some extra umami to the meatballs, sneak in a few finely diced anchovies as a secret ingredient. I like to make loads of meatballs so that I can get two dinners’ worth out of them, but they freeze beautifully too.

for the meatballs:
2 lb (1 kg) pork mince
3 cloves garlic, grated with a Microplane zester or very finely chopped
1 cup (50 g) fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (50 g) finely grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 bunch flat‐leaf parsley, chopped, with some reserved for garnish
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the tomato sauce:
5 tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
1 x 28 oz can (or 2 x 14 oz/400 g cans) whole plum tomatoes, with their juices
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb (450 g) spaghetti

To make the tomato sauce, melt the butter in a large pot (one that can also accommodate all the pasta later) over a medium heat, then add in onion halves and pour in the tomatoes with their juices. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, mashing up the tomatoes gently with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Stir occasionally, continuing to mash any large pieces of tomato with the wooden spoon. Taste for seasoning, then discard the onion when the sauce is ready.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper. To make the meatballs, place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix everything together until it’s just combined, trying not to overwork the mixture so that the meatballs stay tender. Shape the mixture into small meatballs the size of golf balls and place them on the lined baking tray. Bake them in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook them or they’ll dry out and become tough.

While the meatballs are cooking and the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. When it’s done, drain the pasta and add it directly to the sauce. Stir the pasta until it’s all coated with the sauce. Divide the pasta between the individual bowls or plates and place a few meatballs on top of each serving. Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and garnish with the reserved parsley.

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I’ve hit on the perfect play date treat with these banana, cherry and white chocolate cupcakes. Unusually for a cupcake these days, they’re not smothered with any frosting, so they’re not messy to eat and don’t make for sticky fingers. Plus they don’t have too much sugar in them, relying on the bananas for sweetness instead, and I always feel like any treat with fruit keeps it on the right side of indulgence. Friends, you’ve had fair warning now — next time you invite me and my kids over, I’ll be bringing a batch of these.

Banana, Cherry and White Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup (60 ml) sour cream or natural yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups (300 g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (40 g) dried cherries, chopped (you could substitute dried cranberries or even raisins)
1/4 cup (50 g) white chocolate, chopped, or use chips or buttons

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone cases.

Melt the butter in a saucepan big enough to eventually hold all the batter. Off the heat, add the sugar, vanilla and mashed bananas. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and the eggs and beat to mix with a wooden spoon. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder, then fold in the cherries and chocolate. Mix until everything is just blended (don’t overmix!), then divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases. Cook for 20 minutes, until golden and springy on top and a tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes in their papers to a wire rack and leave till cool.

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Whenever people ask where I’m from, I always hesitate before answering. Although I spent my teenage years in Illinois, I lived my younger years in Tomball, Texas, a tiny town near Houston. Inevitably, I answer that I was “raised in Texas.” Growing up in Texas during your formative years definitely leaves a mark. The food, the weather, the people all have the indelible stamp of Texas on them. It took me a long time to get over my move to north. While I can appreciate the faster pace of my current hometown,  I still miss many, many things about Texas. The warm and generous people, amazing sunsets, never buying a winter coat, and jalapenos and sweet tea served with every meal.

I am still, after all these years, a homesick Texan. I regularly follow Lisa Fain’s blog by the same name and was thrilled when Kristin sent me her cookbook. I spent the evening reading it–yes, reading it–with that bittersweet ache of nostalgia in my stomach. There is nothing quite like food to trigger memory. A certain conversation or taste or smell that you’ve forgotten for years can come roaring back to life with just the mention of the food that you were eating when it occurred. When I read Lisa’s green salsa recipe I knew I was going to be in for a long ride down memory lane. This salsa is one that I ate constantly growing up. It was (and probably still is) served alongside traditional red salsa at every Mexican restaurant in southeastern Texas. Alas, I never tasted it again after moving up north. Until now that is. I’ve made this salsa five times since Christmas Eve, where I served it as surprise for my Texas‐born siblings. For me, that is an astounding amount of times to make the same recipe. It’s just that good. I can, and have, eaten it by the spoonfuls. It’s topped my carnitas, been served along side yellow rice and a roasted chicken, gone perfectly with tortilla chips, and accompanied tonight’s steak tacos.

Steak & Swiss Chard Tacos

Serves 6

2 steaks (preferably ribeye or flank steak, but sirloin will work in a pinch)
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems chopped into 1/2 inch pieces and leaves roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
12 corn or flour tortillas
toppings (shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, avocado)

Spread the minced garlic evenly on top of the steaks. Sprinkle with the lime juice, cumin, and salt and pepper, to taste. Let the steaks sit for 20 minutes. If desired, steaks can sit for up to one hour in the fridge. Make the salsa while your steaks marinate.

While the steak marinates, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the Swiss chard stems and sliced garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 2–3 minutes until the garlic turns golden. Add the Swiss chard leaves and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted and stems are just tender, another 5–10 minutes. Season the chard with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Preheat a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium high heat. When hot, place the steaks into the pan and cook for 5–8 minutes until nicely seared on one side. Flip the steaks and continue cooking on the other side until cooked to your desired doneness. I like my beef medium rare so usually another 5 minutes will do the trick, depending on the thickness of the steak.  When done, remove the steaks from the pan and let them rest on a cutting board. After letting them rest for 5–10 minutes, thinly slice the steaks against the grain. Serve the steak with warmed tortillas, topped with the swiss chard, salsa and other accompaniments.

***

Houston‐style Green Salsa
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

Makes about 2 cups

3/4 lb (340 g) small tomatillos, husks removed or 1 x11 oz (x310 g) can of whole tomatillos, drained
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 or 2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup (8 g) cilantro
salt, to taste

If using fresh tomatillos, on high heat, bring a pot of water to boiling and cook tomatillos until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatillos to a blender along with the avocado, serrano chiles, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Blend until smooth then add salt, to taste.

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Homemade Chicken Soup

by Kristin on March 8, 2012

It’s been a tough winter in my house, with bad colds, bad backs, the flu, food poisoning and fevers, topped off by my 3‐year‐old getting chickenpox last month. It had been going around his daycare since Christmas, so I had already resigned myself to the fact that he was going to get it; the only surprise was that it took so long. I’ve lost count of the number of pots of homemade chicken soup I’ve made this season, coaxing one or another of us back to health and an appetite.

Chicken soup is one of those things everyone should know how to make. You shouldn’t be able to leave school without knowing how to at least make a roast chicken, chicken soup, an omelette and pasta (don’t laugh — I know someone who didn’t even know how to cook pasta in their early twenties). This recipe is for making stock and soup from scratch, but if you’ve roasted a chicken, you should always make stock with the carcass to extract every last bit of value and goodness from it. It will keep in the freezer for three months, ready for those times when a bowl of homemade chicken soup and a hug is the only thing that will do.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Serves 4

Most chicken noodle soups use wide egg noodles, but I like to use macaroni because it’s easier to scoop up with a spoon, especially for children. If you’re not feeling the best to begin with, you want the act of eating your soup to be as undemanding as possible.

If you’re feeling very organized, prep the soup vegetables when you make the stock and add the carrot peelings, celery leaves and onion and garlic skins to the stock pot. For a stock with an incredible golden color, use a corn‐fed chicken. Using my 5 1/2 quart (5.3 liter) Le Creuset pot, I get 3 pints (1.5 liters) of stock.

for the stock:
1 large whole chicken
3 carrots, scrubbed well but unpeeled and cut in half
3 celery stalks, cut in half (leaves included)
1 onion, unpeeled and quartered through the root end
1 head of garlic, cut in half around its middle to expose all the cloves
10 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of parsley
1 tablespoon salt

for the soup:
olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few handfuls of cooked, shredded chicken
3 pints (1.5 liters) chicken stock
7 oz (200 g) macaroni (use more if you want a more substantial soup with less broth)
a handful of fresh flat‐leaf parsley, chopped
crusty bread, to serve

To make the stock, place the chicken in a large stockpot, one roomy enough to hold it and all the vegetables plus plenty of water. Add in all the remaining stock ingredients, then pour over enough cold water to cover the chicken. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a steady simmer and let it bubble away, covered, for 90 minutes to ensure the chicken gets fully cooked. Partially uncover the pot and continue to let it simmer for a further 30 to 60 minutes to let the stock reduce a bit and get a more concentrated flavor. Don’t be tempted to let the stock boil for more than 3 hours max or the texture of the chicken will get too mushy.

Carefully remove the chicken from the pot onto a plate and allow it to cool enough that you can shred it. Strain the stock through a sieve into a large bowl, pressing on the vegetables with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid as possible out of them, then discard them. If you’re making the stock ahead (or only making stock and not soup), cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the fridge overnight to allow the fat to congeal on the top, then skim it off. Otherwise, don’t worry about it — in fact, it’s said that the flu‐fighting properties of chicken soup are in the fat anyway.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and any other unsavory bits. Dice or shred the remaining chicken. You’ll only need half of it for the soup, so save the rest for adding to pasta, stir‐fries, salads, lentils, risotto, chicken salad sandwiches — you get the idea.

To make the soup, place a pot over a medium‐low heat and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When the oil is warm, add in the carrots, celery and onion along with a pinch of salt (to keep the onion from browning) and some pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but not colored. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chicken and stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to a lively simmer and add in the pasta. Cook for 10 or 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through. Add in the parsley at the last minute and ladle the soup into bowls. Pass around plenty of crusty bread to mop up every last drop of nourishing stock. Serve steaming hot and feel better soon.

 

 

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