Having Asparagus, Chicken and Pea Soup this weekend was well timed. Yes, I have a vicious head cold. No, it’s not man flu. My throat this morning felt like razors. Although, after gargling with salted water it’s eased off a bit.
So, that should help to explain the simplicity of the photos as I really wasn’t in the mood to cook never mind blog. This is along the same lines as a thin broth-like soup with rice and boiled egg I had in Toledo, Spain – years ago. And I hate to admit this but the last time I cooked asparagus was in Barcelona, for a college chum’s barbecue on her roof terrace five years ago. After shopping in a large Mercado nearby, my friend had chosen crayfish which we hadn’t had before. Neither had we tried an egg sausage. One of the great things about shopping in any city with one of the, now, locals was to ask, ‘what is that’ in the local language. So, after trying a piece proffered to us. the egg sausages were hastily bought for starters, along with other bits and pieces. My contribution of a side was thin asparagus wrapped in Serrano ham with a pinch of black pepper, a tiny knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Wrapped in tinfoil those were merely placed to the side of the barbie. The other’s there told me they hadn’t had that type of thing before, which surprised me. I thought everyone had tried that. Anyway, this turned out to be one of the best barbies I’ve ever been to. Okay, I’ve blathered enough. I am aware that this is the first post in a week. I’ve been busy updating my previous post, Cauliflower and swede soup with far better looking food on the plate. Only took the fourth attempt! As for this soup I wasn’t happy with the quality of the asparagus. It may be my palate is a little off today. But I could just about taste it. Must check online for hints on how to pick the best asparagus available. Well, I read last night in a magazine published by one of my local stores, would you believe it, that stems of asparagus shouldn’t be boiled as they will loose their flavour. That’s pretty much what I did as the chopped stems were added to the stock. They must be cooked separately, like the tips, by pan-frying, steaming or griddling. Now I know!
Asparagus, Chicken and Pea Soup, with rice and boiled egg
FOR THE STOCK:
- 1 x onion of about 150g (5.29 oz), cut in half, peeled, trimmed and cut into 6 pieces
- 2 x carrots or 200g after prep (7.05 oz), peeled, trimmed and cut into smallish chunks
- 3 x celery stalks/ribs, washed, trimmed, and roughly cut into pieces
- 5 x garlic cloves, peeled, root end cut off and kept whole
- 5 x juniper berries
- 5 x whole black pepper corns
- 2 x dried bay leaves, ripped
- 2 x small pinches cayenne pepper
- 2 – 3 x sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 x organic vegetable stock cube – optional
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
- woody parts of the asparagus – see notes
- 500g (17.63 oz) x chicken pieces, I used 2 leg quarters that includes the drumstick and thigh
FOR THE SOUP:
- chicken meat from the poached leg quarters
- 150g (5.29 oz) x asparagus, pick up each stem and simply snap. Where the woody parts aren’t tender enough to eat will be where the stalks break off. Don’t use too much force. The woody parts can be trimmed and sliced in half for the stock. Cut the tender stems quite small and keep the heads of asparagus separate
- about 50g (1.76 oz) x frozen peas per person
- about 50g (1.76 oz) x long grain rice per person
- 1/2 – 1 x hard-boiled egg per person
- 1 x medium sized green finger chilli (Scoville rating 50,000), sliced in half
- fresh parsley to serve
- both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Add all of the stock ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and bring to a boil with a lid on pan. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least an hour. After that time I turn off heat and leave the pan covered until it’s cool enough to store overnight. Following day I scrape off any coagulated fat on the surface and discard it. I put the stock back on heat to warm the stock through. Then the chicken pieces are removed and set aside for the meat to be removed. The garlic and bay leaves are picked out and kept. The stock itself is poured through a metal sieve into a suitable bowl underneath, then with the back of a large metal serving spoon I squash the vegetables to extract as much of their juice as possible, then they’re discarded. That way I ended up with 700ml (1.47 US pt lqd).
- To boil eggs: I add them to a saucepan and cover them with lots of cold water. Put on heat No 4 with a lid once they come to a boil the heat is reduced to No 2 and simmered for about 4 minutes. I check them by removing one with a dessertspoon and if the egg dries out quickly it’s cooked. Plunge them into running cold water to prevent any further cooking. Crack them, peel them and add them to the soup when needed.
- For the soup itself I added the chilli, bay leaf pieces and the garlic back to the pan. Put on heat No 4 and then simmered on No 2 until the peas are added and cooked.
- You can either add the cooked chicken meat to the soup or reheat with a little oil. Even a little freshly squeezed lemon can be poured over just before adding back to the soup.
- The chopped stems of the asparagus must not be boiled. Instead, I pan-fry them in a little oil until cooked, adding the tips for several minutes to allow them enough time to cook through. Then they can be added to the soup just before serving.
- Rice needs to be cooked separately. I bring plenty of cold water (no salt added) to a rolling broil with a lid, add the rinsed rice, bring back to a boil and reduce heat to No 2. I simmer mine for around 5 minutes only as the grains I buy are quite small. Do check with the instructions of the packet. When cooked drain and add to the soup to keep the rice warm.
- Remember to add the peas about five minutes before serving. And do check that they’re cooked through. Remove the bay leaf pieces and the chilli halves before serving as well. And serve with lots of freshly chopped parsley.
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