Chicken Soup For The Tum

Chicken soup is touted for its restorative properties when one has a cold. I’m not entirely sure about that and I don’t really care. I only know it’s simple to make, delicious and healthy.

When you grow up, you’re going to make a great pot of chicken soup…

I love adding lots of vegetables to my chicken soup.

It almost ends up as vegetable soup with chicken. There’s the standard carrots and onions (no celery as my DCM doesn’t like it) of course. I also like adding bamboo shoot slices, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, baby Chinese spinach, corn kernels, lotus root slices, mushrooms and watercress. You can add anything you like. While all that gives the soup more flavour and texture, a good chicken soup starts with a good stock.

Martin Yan said that with “a good stock, you can make a good soup”, According to him anything can be done with soup stock as “it’s like a strong foundation” from which “everything tastes good”. I concur! And you also know what else Martin Yan says right? “If Yan can cook, so can you!” That line never fails to amuse me. I digress.

 A soup stock consists of water, protein and aromatics. For chicken soup, I throw two to three fresh or dry bay leaves, a whole chicken breast on the bone, chicken wing tips, the chicken spine, neck and feet, an entire bulb of garlic or more simply halved horizontally with the paper left on and a knob of unpeeled ginger roughly sliced into a big pot of boiling water. There’s no fixed amount of how much of each ingredient goes into the stock. If you want a richer stock, throw in more chicken bones. If you like or do not like garlic or ginger add more or omit. If you have dry or fresh thyme, rosemary or any other herb you like, add that to the stock as well.

After all the ingredients are in the pot and the water comes to a boil again, I turn the fire down as low as it can go, cover with the lid and allow it to barely simmer undisturbed for hours. Allowing the stock to boil causes it to turn chalky. This does not affect the flavour of the stock and some like it as they claim it releases collagen (I don’t think chicken has much collagen to release).

I do not like a big boil as it dries the chicken meat, causes it to leave the bone and the meat sort of gets jumbled up with the other ingredients. It’s just messy. I usually start chicken soup stock in the morning and just leave it there till dinner time. At the end of all those hours of slow cooking, you get a flavoursome chicken stock with the chicken breast meat intact, tender and ready to fall off the bone. This saves on having to peel the chicken and getting my fingers and manicured nails dirty. Once the stock is strained, it can be stored away or used immediately.

Chicken soup makes a good one dish meal for my DCM who likes his soup with a bit of bread. It’s light yet filling enough that should he come home late from work, he won’t feel too heavy before bed. I always make extra so I have enough for lunch the next day. See recipe here.

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