Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Catching up

WHERE has the time gone??  We have had a frantic couple of months, for reasons I won't go into for fear of boring you to tears.  Suffice to say very little time has been spent inside as the garden is absolutely humming  and bursting with the fullness of spring so keeping up with the lawns and weeding is a constant battle.
I haven't even had time to report on my wonderful trip to the Agrarian Kitchen back in August, which I promise to do very soon, maybe if we get more rainy days.  Yes, this spring is throwing everything at us:  it was 26 degrees on Saturday, pouring with rain and 12 degrees today.  When I was driving back from Robe last week it was hailing so hard it looked like there was snow on the road and I had to pull over:
No wonder there are so many people suffering from nasty colds and flu, including the poor 'usband who can expect divorce proceedings if he doesn't get rid of the shocking cough/chest infection that has been plaguing him for the last couple of months.  My sympathy is waning and let's face it, men are not always the best at looking after their health.  Despite several courses of antibiotics he has coughed his heart out for ages (often all night) and is only just getting better.  It is quite possibly genetic.  My poor mother in law is enduring a nasty bout of bronchial pneumonia and has required some nurturing.  When you are feeling rotten and can't face cooking the thing you really need is nourishment in a bowl.

RESTORATIVE CHICKEN SOUP - makes a big batch, you can use some and freeze some

Chicken soup is the perfect remedy:  loads of vegetables and a hit of protein that has not had the life cooked out of it, steaming hot and life affirming.  

1 nice free range chicken
1 onion, don't bother peeling, cut into eight wedges
1 tblsp olive oil
2 celery stalks with leaves (use one and the leaves for the stock, one for the finished dish)
2 big carrots (again, one for the stock, one for the finish)
1 bay leaf
1 teasp black peppercorns
good handful of parsley, stalks and leaves
Noodles optional, any will do but try Wiechs, from the Barossa Valley in SA....hands down the best for the job.

Preheat the oven to 200c.
Place the onion on a roasting tray.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
Place the chicken on the onion and roast in the oven for 30 minutes until it is nicely brown on the top.  This will help the stock to be a beautiful golden colour.

While the chicken is cooking prepare the stock.
Into a stockpot put one chopped stalk of celery and its leaves, the carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns and the parsley, leaving a bit for garnish at the end.  Fill the pot about half full of water.

Take the chicken out of the oven and gently place it in the water.  Scrape the onions and any pan juices into the pot too.  Fill the pot with water until the chicken is covered.  Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 45 minutes (you can do this in the Simmer oven of the Aga, it may take a little longer).
While that is cooking neatly chop up the remaining celery and carrot.
Check the chicken after 45 minutes, you want it to be just cooked.  Take out the chicken and put it on a plate to cool.  Strain the stock and return it to the cleaned out stockpot.
Bring it to the boil and add the chopped vegetables and a good few handfuls of noodles (dried ones will take as long as the veg to cook, fresh ones can be put in at the last minute).  Give the soup a bit of a skim and keep doing this as it cooks.
Take all the meat off the chicken and remove the skin. Shred it and add to the soup just before serving.
Check for seasoning and scatter over some chopped parsley.
And give it to someone you love.

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