Tag Archives: chicken

A Celebration of Old Classics: Chicken, Asparagus and Gruyère Crêpes

Harvesting Dinner is barely two years old and I have enjoyed writing every single post!While I jumped in blindly with little direction, knowing only that I wanted to share my insane attraction to our edible world by writing recipes, telling little stories about my life, sharing the joys of eating out or the effects of eating too much, I didn’t know what personality this little diary of mine would take on. If I were to choose a new name, I may be tempted to select something like “Heritage Kitchen”, “Legacy Cooking” or “A Mother’s Pantry”, which would surely better capture the essence of this blog… I seem to gravitate towards heirloom recipes and stories; I am inherently attracted to the cooking of the mothers in my life… I love the mixed heritage of my kitchen where French Canadian, French (from France) and East European all collide with international cuisines! And I am deeply rooted to my family’s origins through the traditions and knowledge these humble home cooks have imparted on me. In my home, I tend to prepare the simple yet comforting dishes of everyday cooking when a budget needs to be respected and time is often elusive. Although I have the expertise to take on intricate recipes and I do enjoy cooking elaborate meals from time to time, this type of cooking does not portray what goes on in my everyday kitchen which is the one I share with you most often. I will seldom post dishes that require extremely elaborate preparations within this blog unless I decide to share a culinary experience that is well worth it. As simple as it is, my cooking is no less inviting: it is all about awesomely good food, warm & comforting, served with love and abundance, to enjoy in the presence of people who truly matter. Whether it is a simple weeknight tête-à-tête with the King , a small gathering of the family or a grand celebration, I aim to serve foods that beg for seconds and “take home” care packages. I also like to «be» with my peeps at mealtime and I will favour dishes that can be prepared ahead so that I am free to partake in all the conversations that are happening at the dinner table. I am definitely the queen of one pot dinners, of tough pieces of meat bubbling away  softly in a fragrant broth until they render their full potential and fall off the fork tender. I love simmered dishes the most: those that fill the house with mouth-watering aromas for hours until you can’t stand it any longer and must dig in. I also enjoy the carefree approach to summer grilling paired with fresh produces enhanced with perfectly balanced vinaigrettes.

I do favour simple cooking over intricate, that is for sure.  Yet, simple does not necessarily mean quick! There are times when you just need to soak things overnight, simmer all day or spread the prep over a day or two… The time spent preparing a meal is not a reflection of how difficult the recipe is; it simple means that the recipe requires a bit more planning. For me, simple cooking also means familiar: food prepared with “easy to find” ingredients (not too many) that are budget friendly. I love old classics and appreciate having been taught the rudiments of French cuisine: I can whip up a great hollandaise, make my own mayo, serve a silky smooth sabayon and bake bread. And although I often refer back to recipes for proportion, especially when it comes to baking, I can make a bechamel sauce without even taking a peek into a book!

One classic preparation I am particularly thrilled I have learned to master are crêpes; they are so versatile! They really are easy to make: the most difficult part of making crêpes (if one can call this difficult) is knowing how much batter to pour into the pan to ensure the right thickness and size. It really isn’t that hard: I always mess up the first one which I am sure I subconsciously do on purpose so that I can eat a hot crêpe right away!!! There are many things I love about crêpes: they can be done in advance, they can be sweet or savoury, they can be served hot or cold, they can be filled, rolled or drenched in syrups, whatever your fancy! They are neutral enough to be a perfect vehicle to an infinite combinations of ingredients yet are just as delicious sprinkled lightly with sugar… What matters most to make really great crêpes is time: the batter really needs to “relax” in the fridge for several hours, preferably overnight. It only takes about 10 minutes to whip a batter up in a food processor or a blender and just a tiny bit longer if you have to whisk everything by hand. What takes the longest is the cooking time as each crêpe must be done individually. There are pans that are specifically designed to make crêpes and they work extremely well. However, any good old frying pan you have on hand will do. I made crêpes for decades before I splurged and bought a crêpe pan…

This savoury crêpe recipe I am about to share with you is a long time family classic. It does require planning and involves several steps but none of them are difficult. What I like best about this particular recipe is that it can be prepared entirely in advance AND the ingredients are easy to find. Simply pop it in the oven one hour before serving. Pair with a nice crisp salad and you have a festive meal that will make your guests very happy!

I recently made this dish and took the opportunity to take plenty of pictures at every stage. Then our guests arrived and ya know, we got into cocktails and instant conversation… I was way too happy being with my friends than hidden in the kitchen and not only did I completely forget to set my timer, I also forgot to check in on the crêpes! A lovely intense smell of melted Gruyère eventually got my attention and as a result, I over baked the crêpes by a good 35 minutes. The verdict? Although the crêpes were still very delicious, they had absorbed most of the sauce. I hesitated to add the final picture because it should be much saucier but then I figured that mistakes happen even with the best of techniques and planning. So expect a saucier dish if you decide to make this recipe: that is how it should be 🙂

Chicken, Asparagus and Gruyère Crêpes

This recipe serves 4 and can easily be doubled (I always double, left overs are great!)

image
The result of overbaking: a little «dry» yet still delicious

 

Part 1 – Crêpe Batter

What you need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (250ml)
  • 1 cup milk (250ml)
  • 1/2 cup water (maybe a bit more) (125ml)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (2.5ml)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (30ml) plus 1/4 cup (65ml) melted butter for cooking

How to make it:

  1. Using a food processor, blend together the eggs, flour, milk, water and salt until well blended. With motor still running, pour in the melted butter and whip until well blended.
  2. Transfer batter in a jug or a bowl, cover and refrigerate 2 to 12 hours.
  3. Making the crêpes: strain the batter using a small sieve to remove any lumps. The batter should be silky smooth. Add  water if the batter is too thick, a little bit at a time: it should have the consistency of buttermilk or hollandaise.
  4. Heat a wide pan over medium-high heat. Using a pastry brush, coat the pan with a small film of butter. Drop about 1/2 cup of batter in the pan spreading quickly by tilting the pan in a swirl motion. How to video, click here
  5. Once all your crêpes are done, set them aside. You can stack crêpes in a plate, they will not stick together. Crêpes can also be done a day ahead and refrigerated : simply wrap very well with plastic wrap to avoid drying and refrigerate. Crêpes also do well in the freezer for a few weeks.image

Part 2 – Chicken and asparagus filling

What you need

  • 2 large chicken breast, with skin and bones
  • 1 onion, peeled and left whole
  • 2 carrots, peeled and left whole
  • 3 celery branches, with leaves if possible
  • 2 bay eaves
  • 1 tbsp salt (15ml)
  • 1 tsp pepper (5ml)
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus
  • 2 shallots finely chopped (or 1/2 cooking onion)
  • 1/4 cup butter (65ml)
  • 1/4 cup flour (65ml)
  • 4 cups milk (1l)
  • 1 tsp salt (5ml)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (fine grind)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, 35% (180ml)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère* cheese (500ml)

*Swiss cheese will do but Gruyère really takes it to the next level… If you can splurge 🙂

How to make it

  1. Cook the chicken: In a large stock pot, place chicken, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add just enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a full boil on high heat, then reduce heat and cook over a gentle boil, partially covered. the chicken should take about 30-40 minutes to cook through.
  2. Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool before removing the skin and bones.
  3. Meanwhile, discard the celery and onion from broth. Remove the carrots and set aside. Strain the broth in a fine mesh sieve. Return carrots to broth and save for another time. The broth will not be needed in this recipe
  4. Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove skin and bones. Chop meat into cubes: this should yield 3-4 cups of chicken (750-1000ml). This variation will not impact the recipe much. Refrigerate
  5. Set a pot to boil filled with plenty of salted water
  6. Chop the shallots and grate the cheese
  7. Prepare the asparagus: clean well snap off the hard woody part off the stem, normally a lighter green that the rest of the asparagus. Cut asparagus in pieces about 1 inch long (2-3cm). Once the water is at a full rolling boil, add the asparagus. They will cook very quickly. I find that they are done once the water reaches the boiling point again, usually 3-4 minutes. As soon as the water starts boiling again, strain the asparagus and immediately immerse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Change the water frequently until the asparagus have cooled, strain and reserve.
  8. Make the bechamel sauce: in a mid-size saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to foam slightly. Add the shallots (or onions) and cook until translucent 1-2 minutes. Add the flour and stir well, cooking for an additional 23 minutes. The only trick here is that you want the flour to cook without browning. Slowly start pouring in the milk, whisking well as you incorporate. I usually add about half first, whisk well and then pour in the rest. To avoid lumps, it is best to use cold milk. Because this bechamel has shallots in it, you will not be able to strain it to remove the lumps. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Continue whisking over medium heat until the sauce reaches a soft boil and it has started to thicken. Remove from heat, whisk in the heavy cream. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap by sticking directly onto the sauce to prevent a crust from forming. Set aside to cool.image

Assembly:

image
This is a double batch
  1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, the asparagus, 1 cup of cheese and just enough bechamel (about half) to moisten the preparation.image
  2. If you plan on baking right away, preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Butter the sides and bottom of a large casserole dish, like a lasagna dish for example. If you do not own a large dish, use two smaller ones.
  4. Spread the filling evenly between each crêpe. Roll by first folding the left and right side towards the middle, then rolling to close. Place the crêpes seam down in the baking dish. Do not stack crêpes on top of one another: if you run out of room, it is best tu use a second baking dish.image
  5. Spread the remaining bechamel evenly over the crêpes, sprinkle with cheeseimage
  6. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the cheese starts to take on a golden hue and bubbles lightly at the edges
  7. Let sit 10 minutes before serving

Notes:

  • The baking time may need to be increased slightly if the crêpes have been refrigerated
  • The entire dish can be prepared a day in advance, which makes it a great party dish!
  • This dish also freezes very well: freeze in individual portions for easy weeknight dinnersimage

 

Advertisements

When fall returns to haunt June weekends… Fragrant Moroccan Chicken Stew

Note: this dish can be entirely adapted to accommodate a vegetarian diet. In lieu of chicken, double up on the chickpeas and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

It’s been cold, damp, windy and simply unspring like over the past few days… You are not playing nice Mother Nature! This kind of weather begs for a warm hearty serving of some sort of simmer. Not that I necessarily wait for cooler days to make this beautifully fragrant dish: I do not own a BBQ in my city home therefore summer grilling is reserved for the cottage. I must admit that not having a BBQ at home is a bit of a challenge, especially when the mercury hits the sizzling hot zone. On those days, I wish I could simply throw a chunk of meat of the grill, serve it with a huge salad and call it a day. Easy grilling days not being a dinner option in the city, my stovetop remains my “go-to” cooking tool, even in the middle of the summer. When the work days wipe any dinner creative energy out of me, on those days, our go-to easy summer meal is more likely to be a sandwich or an omelet. And I am very grateful for air conditioning which permits me to cook with abandon using a hot stove or oven even during heat waves.

For the most part, I cook a full meal nearly every night of the week. Well, ok, maybe not every night, that would be a slight exaggeration! I often tend to make enough to have left overs for at least a second meal… Sometimes we even get tired of eating the same stuff a few days in a row… Oh well, even though he is The King, he can’t expect to eat like one every single day!!! Like come on now, a girl needs to do other things once in while other than working and cooking right? Although Jamie Oliver and a few others try to makes us believe a fully cooked dinner from scratch can be dished out in 15 minutes, I beg to differ. There is absolutely no such thing as a 15 minute meal unless there are little minions living in your house who gather ingredients, portion the meats, wash all the produce, take out all the required ingredients and clean up the entire mess after you. I have no such minions, do you? I consider myself a pretty skilled cook, with solid organization and planning strategies. I can handle a knife with certain ease (although not a pro) yet dinner prep in my house averages at about 1 hour. I clean up as I go usually leaving only the service dishes and pots for the after dinner clean up crew (luckily, I have one of those). I do not mind that 1 hour prep time at all. I never set myself up for disappointment since I never, ever expect to make a meal under an hour… Except when there are recipes such as this Moroccan Chicken Stew! So simple and so easy to throw together that you wonder why you don’t make it more often!!! This one truly takes maybe up to 30 minutes to assemble including prep AND cleaning up as you go. And then, it takes maybe 30 minutes to cook (which allows me plenty of time to check what is going on in the world via my beloved I-Pad). When I last made this dish, it was ready to serve in less than one hour; almost faster than firing up the grills!

In Morocco, the weather is warm nearly year round and although they can whip up some fantastic grilled meats, some of their most famous dishes are slow simmers using tagines. Tagines are clay cooking pots with lovely cone shaped lids which allow the steam to build up, get caught up at the top of the cone, condense again and the trickle back down to the food, constantly bathing what is cooking inside and infusing all the flavours and aromas. I do not own a tagine (yet) but I have had the pleasure of eating delicious Moroccan food cooked in this traditional utensil. So even though the weather is very hot in Morocco, I bet these stews are popular not only because they are so delicious but most likely because they are very economical to make: they yield large portions of food using humble ingredients while showcasing masterfully blended spices such Raz el Hanout. Here is a interesting little tidbit info capsule that may also explain the popularity of tagines: fresh bread is sacred in this country and baked daily in wood burning ovens. Although the dough is prepared everyday at home, the raw loaves are brought to a communal oven where the master baker bakes all the loaves. These ovens are quite large and will retain residual heat for a long time even after the rush of bread baking has come and gone which is where the tagines end up later in the day to simmer slowly. Such stews, served piping hot over a bed of couscous, are always a crowd pleaser! My Moroccan Chicken Stew may not simmer slowly in a tagine nestled in a wood burning oven yet it still manages to evoke images of Marrakesh, white washed homes, blue mosaic tiles frescos and bustling spice markets.

I have adapted this recipe from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart which has now become a family classic because it is super healthy, packs a ton of flavour yet is so easy to make. There is no “heat” to this recipe either, for those who are sensitive to spicy foods.

image

Moroccan Chicken Stew

serves 4 generous portions

What you need:

Don’t overlook making this dish because the ingredient list seems too long. Apart from the spices, there are very few ingredients needed and very little preparation required. You can replace Ras el Hanout with chili powder and garam masala (1 tsp each). Sumac and parsley add an extra dimension but can easily be omitted

  • 8 pieces of chicken, skinless, bone in
  • 2 cups of carrots peeled and cut into 1.5 inches long pieces then halved or quartered depending on the size of the carrots
  • 2-3 medium yellow onions, thin sliced
  • 1 small can stewed tomatoes, whole or diced (14oz or 400ml)
  • 1 small can chickpeas, rinsed or 2 cups cooked chickpeas (14oz or 400ml)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (500ml)
  • 1.5 cups dried fruits of your choice: figs, prunes, raisins, apricots**
  • 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp. dry
  • 2 heaping tsp. Ras el Hanout***
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. sumac (optional), adds a citrusy flavour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Plenty of pepper
  • 2 zucchinis cut the same way as the carrots
  • The juice of 1 lemon (preserved lemon pieces would be a great substitute)
  • A generous handful of fresh chopped parsley if you like but not necessary
  • Couscous

* I like to use a combination of thighs, drumsticks and halved breasts with the bone in because it yields maximum flavour. This dish can also be done with boneless chicken pieces of your choice which will slightly reduce the cooking time.

** I like to use figs and prunes which I cut in half.

*** Ras el Hanout has become much easier to find recently although if at all possible, I strongly recommend sourcing a good blend from a small spice store instead of a grocery store. Raz el Hanout’s personality varies from one master spice blender to another. It is the North African equivalent to India’s garam masala. It evokes sun drenched spice markets of the Mediterranean.

image

How to make it:

  1. Now this is where it gets really easy: add everything to a large pot except the dried fruits, zucchinis, the lemon juice and the parsley.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes (15 minutes if using boneless meat).
  3. Add the zucchinis and fruit, simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the meat is cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package instructions. Couscous is normally ready in about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir lemon juice and fresh parsley in the stew
  6. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
  7. Ladle over couscous and serve.

A Taste of the Sunny Far East: Coconut Lime Chicken with Mango Salsa

Sometimes, it really doesn’t take much to bring home flavours of exotic cuisines… Of course, some specialty meals are so complex it may be a much better idea to go out to a restaurant to enjoy instead of making them at home. I have shied away from making certain dishes because the ingredient list alone is daunting, let alone the techniques used and the equipment required. I don’t think I will ever attempt to make those Asian «pulled» noodles for instance… But there are other dishes, like this Coconut Lime Chicken, that is a reminiscence of fragrant dishes from Thailand or Cambodia yet is extremely simple in its preparation. I created this dish a few years ago wanting to enjoy a «Thai like» meal without leaving my house… I am sure I must have been inspired by a recipe I saw somewhere but honestly, I cannot remember what the source was or how much I deviated from it…  As well, the ingredients are very easily found in any grocery store. This dinner is bright, fresh, easy to make and relatively healthy depending on what your thoughts on good fats are. If you do not cringe at the fat content of coconut milk, then you will enjoy every single bite of this dish; I prefer to use whole coconut milk although I presume it would still taste great if it was swapped for light coconut milk.

Although the chicken would probably benefit spending a bit of time in the marinade, it is also possible to infuse enough good flavour even if it only marinates during the time it takes to pull together the other components of the recipe. The mango salsa is pretty amazing on its own; as a matter of fact, it could be used as a condiment in many preparations. I suggest serving this dish with basmati rice however, you could also use the coconut milk poached chicken in lettuce wraps and instead of making the sauce using the carrots and zucchini, you could top the chicken lettuce wraps with  mango salsa and the grated vegetables.

If you decide to make this recipe, I would be thrilled to hear how it turned out :)!

Coconut Lime Chicken

COCONUT LIME CHICKEN WITH MANGO SALSA

What you need:
Marinade:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in thick strips
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper

Mango Salsa

  • 1 ripe mango cut in small cubes
  • 1/3 large red onion finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, finely diced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 each grated carrot and zucchini, yields a generous cup of each vegetable
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • fresh cilantro

Cooked basmati rice

How to make it:

  1. In plastic airtight container, toss together chicken with coconut milk, lime zest & juice and salt & pepper. Let marinate in refrigerator while you prep the rest of the recipe or up to 12 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, toss all the ingredients for the salsa together. Adjust seasonings and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours if possible. Adjust seasonings again to taste as flavours will evolve while resting.
  3. Pour chicken and marinade in large skillet or stove top pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and poach gently until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove chicken and set aside. Add zucchini, carrots and honey to cooking liquid and simmer until sauce has reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon basmati onto serving platter. Pour half the sauce over the rice. Add chicken strips to rice. Pour remainder of sauce. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve cold salsa on the side.

Variations:

  1. Making wraps: why not marinate and poach a little extra chicken breast to use later in wraps? Grate a little extra carrots and zucchini too. Refrigerate this extra chicken; once cooled, take large lettuce leave, rice wrapper or tortilla. Add chicken, top with some grated carrots & zucchini,  add salsa and voilà! Lunch in a jiffy!
  2. Playing with flavours: why not add green, red or yellow Thai curry paste for a completely different meal? Any curry for that matter will radically change the meal. The base is simple yet so versatile.

Chicken Soup Does Not Cure Everything…

I am in mourning… My blog has been put to simmer on the back burner these past several weeks (excuse the pun)… Actually, cooking at home has become more mechanical than joyful since early January; I was not feeling one iota of interest in playing in my kitchen. I have resorted to cooking the necessary daily meals using good old faithful recipes that require little preparation and zero flashes of genius. Even more so: I have cooked big batch meals ensuring I had enough leftovers from one meal to keep me away from the stove for a few days in a row… Even as I am trying to write this, I find myself struggling for words… So I will say it as it is: on January 24th, a friend’s child passed away. She was only 15 and she was rudely taken away by osteosarcoma. She was such a beautiful girl: so smart, so loving, so full of joy, so full of promise. An only child… It took 9 months for the evil disease to invade her body. And even though we rallied around her, that big community lovefest was not strong enough to beat the beast. They say it takes a village to raise a child. But is also takes a village to support a family that is going through such an ordeal. Everyone rallied together: messages of hope & love were sent, meals were made & delivered, crafts were created, fundraisers were organized, love was freely distributed… I myself, made a lot of chicken soup. I am not sure what it is about really good home-made chicken soup but to me, it is like getting a huge comforting hug from my own mother. It soothes many ailments from colds to tummy aches and it also soothes the soul and the heart. Sadly enough, in this case, chicken soup did not win the latest round. No matter how much love was served with every ladle, no matter how much care was taken selecting ethical and organic ingredients, when cancer decides it is boss well, it simply is…Maybe it is why so much joy has left my kitchen lately. That is until this past weekend, where I felt a faint urge to dabble in my favorite quartz and stainless steel laboratory again. I suspect my need to write about my culinary experiences on a more regular basis will resurface soon. But for now, I think I need to mend my broken heart. Making chicken noodle soup for Flavie on demand was not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but hopefully brought a bit of comfort to her and her parents’ tummies and souls…

So needless to say, I make a wickedly good chicken soup and I have perfected broth making over the years. If you are in need of really yummy comfy chicken noodle soup in your life, this recipe may just be the ticket home. I never thought I would feel the need or see the benefits of writing an entire post on making chicken broth/soup. However, in discussions about food with friends, many have shared that they do not get the expected results when making chicken broth. I am often asked what is the secret to my soups. I say it all begins with a good broth! I have scoured numerous recipe books looking for decent step-by-step instructions on making chicken broth, but few actually offer enough details. I also often read about using left over carcasses of roasted chicken (and turkey) to make a broth. From personal experience, I find these broths always come out flat. My unscientific deductions on the subject of using cooked carcasses for broth:  the bones have already released most of their flavour during the roasting of the fowl. The following recipe may not be of interest to those of you who are masters in the kitchen but it may help the rest of the gang who would love nothing more than to serve an awesome chicken soup!

To make a really flavourful chicken broth, you need fresh uncooked chicken, of course, and a bit of patience too. I normally buy whole organic chickens from my butcher. I find  the cost of a whole chicken, even organic and ethically raised, is by far more economic than buying traditional grocery chicken pieces. I recommend buying 2 chickens at a time. I spatchcock one chicken, which is the activity of cutting a chicken’s back side so it will lay flat when roasting. Spatchcocking a chicken reduces the roasting time in the oven and increases the surface of skin that will get crispy and golden: BONUS (see picture at the end of this post)! Spatchcocking chicken allows to remove excess pieces such as neck, ribs and skin to be used for making broth.  Some butchers also sell chicken bones and scraps for cheap, a great option for making broth without spending time in the kitchen cutting up loads of chicken! Another tip: keep a freezer container with trimmings from butchering fresh chicken, especially if you do not have enough trimmings to make a broth. The second chicken, I usually cut the wings and legs away and save for another meal. I keep the entire double breast portion as is. Now, from my 2 chickens, I have 1 Spatchcock chicken for roasting, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 1 double breast on the back bone and a fair bit of trimmings. Freeze or save your good chicken pieces for another meal. Now on with the broth and the soup. If you have made it so far, you have completed the yuckiest part of the job!

Really Good and Hearty Chicken Broth

1  double breast of chicken, uncooked, skin and bones on

About 6-8 cups of uncooked chicken trimmings (give or take)

The foot and leaves of a celery, plus a couple stalks

4 carrots, trimmed and peeled but left whole

1 large yellow onion, peeled

3-4 large bay leaves, fresh or dry)

a good handful of fresh thyme (I do not recommend using dry thyme)

1 tbsp of fresh summer savoury

1 generous tbsp coarse salt

pepper to taste

1 large stock pot

1 fine mesh sieve

Instructions

Clean all the vegetables; the celery foot is often discarded but it is full of flavour yet perfect for stocks. Just make sure to clean the creases very well. Peel the carrots and leave whole: they will be used later for the chicken noodle soup.

Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot. Add just enough water to cover everything by no more than one inch. Bring to a rapid boil but then, reduce to keep just a gentle bubbling going on. It is important to not vigorously boil the chicken as it will toughen instead of staying moist. Simmer for about one hour, partially covered. Remove breast from broth as well as the whole carrots. Leave the rest of the chicken pieces in the pot and leave to simmer. Set the carrots aside. Let the chicken breasts rest until cool enough to handle.  Once you can handle without burning your fingers, remove the cooked breast meat from the skin and bones. refrigerate the breast meat for later and return the skin, bones and any accumulated broth to the stock pot. Continue the simmering process until the liquid levels have dropped by about one third. This is where patience comes into play: it will take 2-3 hours to bring your broth to its glory! Let cool completely then pass the broth using the sieve to remove all the solids. Adjust seasoning to your taste. If you have reduced the broth too much and find the flavours overly concentrated, just add a bit of water until you are satisfied with the final product. Degrease the broth either using a ladle to scoop off the excess fat that accumulates to the surface or refrigerate until the fat congeals; it is much easier to remove when cold! Your broth is now done! You can freeze in batches, use for any broth base soups, save some for gravies and sauces, make chicken à la King… Home-made chicken broth is divine!!! Once your broth is made, making chicken noodle soup is breezy easy!

Assembling Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken broth (of course!), about 3 litres

3-4 finely diced celery stalks

Reserved chicken breast and cooked carrots, diced

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

3/4 cup of your favourite soup noodles* or more if you like your soup very “noodly”

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

A dash of ground sage, rosemary and savoury (optional)

* I like acini di pepe, which is a tiny round noodle that resembles couscous. I like that it doesn’t turn to mush, even after freezing the soup. And I also like that it is easy to slurp up without splattering soup all over my face! Acini di pepe is found easily in most grocery stores and at Italian speciality food stores.

Bring broth back to a soft boil. Add the celery and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except for parsley, bring back to a soft boil and cook until the noodles are tender. Add the parsley, adjust seasoning to your liking and serve.