Asparagus, Chicken and Pea Soup, with rice and boiled egg

Asparagus, Chicken and Pea Soup, with rice and boiled egg

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

INGREDIENTS:

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
  • oil
  • 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.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • 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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All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


56 comments

    • Thank you! Yes, throat isn’t nearly as bad already with gargling. A couple of Hot Toddies would go down well!
      Yes, it was only in Spain where I’ve had this type of thin broth-like soup with both hard-boiled eggs and rice. It’s a simple combination but works really well. It’s odd that I’ve never forgotten about it. What with my memory!

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        • As this cold started yesterday I made the stock last night. Really don’t know if that makes a difference to the overall taste. I just find it easier to do that way.
          Hah! I don’t do brandy. Nor whiskey, except when feeling poorly the occasional time.

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  1. The egg looks fab in this soup! I’m posting again on Tuesday with more tips for the healthiest soup stock ever 🙂 – also in honor of Mom, who left this little treasure behind in an old recipe book

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  2. First –congrats on your 200th post –big milestone! Second –this soup sounds divine! I love the idea of rice and hard boiled egg in here. It’s perfect for this cloudy/cold weather we are having. Lastly –keep up the fabulous work and I look forward to reading more of your posts. I hope you feel better soon. You should –this soup would make me feel better for sure! 😉 Beautiful photos as always.

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    • Thank you. Can’t quite believe it.
      Yes, anything with rice and potatoes really can help with soaking up bacteria. And even though I really wasn’t in the mood to do this post I’m glad I did. Partly as it took my mind of smoking roll-ups! Ouch!

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  3. I’m keeping this recipe for the winter months coming in Australia… It looks really delicious, good on you for making this while sick, bet it made you feel all warm & fuzzy on the inside.

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    • To be honest I’ve been feeling too warm and fuzzy all day! I’m still a bit shivery as well. Just about to make a ginger, clove, lemon and honey hot drink. Yes, this is a nice combination. I’m not sure if you can find asparagus all year. I’m sure you’ll come up with an alternative. Thank you.

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  4. Aw no! Sorry to hear that you’ve been unwell Johnny… interesting to think it might be something to do with the Omega 3 (amazing how much of an impact food has on our health… it all makes sense, but it’s easy to forget at times). This soup looks delicious. So do the new photos on your previous cauliflower and swede recipe (though to be honest, I loved your old ones… you have such a knack with food styling!). Take care, hope that you feel better soon. Congrats on your 200th post, woop!!! I am only up to… uh, 40? Something like that!

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    • – It might be the effects of a long winter where too much alcohol was drunk at times, and too many roll-ups smoked. No booze for a while and cutting right back on tobacco.
      – Thanks for having a look at the cauliflower post. I’m sort of pleased with a newish look, especially the landscape photo as I very seldom do those.
      – I know! Can’t believe that. This post isn’t what I’d intended but this cold changed all that. Glad I’ve gone with 🙂

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  5. Dear Johnny, Happy 200th! Today was my WP 1st year anniversary… I started 8 months after you. yes, it is unbelievable how quickly the number of posts add up.
    A soup with substance…hope you quickly feel better.

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    • Thank you! And Happy First Anniversary. Yes, I’m quite shocked at reaching 200.
      Hopefully the soup will help. I’m doing another vegetarian soup tonight as I can’t really be bothered to cook. Soups are so good for those times.

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    • Yesterday, I figured that if the soup looked okay on the plate I’d do several shots really quickly. Surprised at how they turned out. Do hope, if and when you make this, that it turns out okay for you. I’m sure you can find really nice and tasty asparagus as I haven’t used much of it.

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    • Thank you so much. Less sick, just lost my voice and very tired. Yes, this soup should help. Shame I forgot to store the stock properly last night so wouldn’t go with that today. Still, I had the chicken and other stuff.

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  6. Hope you are feeling much better by the time you read this comment …. and it is to say that it is hardly ‘soup’ : it is a veritable meal in itself! Brilliant… just brilliant (shame about the asparagus not tasting nice enough but that’s the fault of the asparagus). Oh … and by the way … apparently there is a lot of truth to chicken soup being a wonderful cure for colds!

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    • Thanks, Jo. Well, I actually managed to talk earlier, albeit in a very hoarse whisper, to a man in one of the local stores. I’m not sure if he understood me! My voice is coming back to me. It’ll take a few days. Too many roll-ups no doubt!
      Yes, this particular soup is intended to be as much or as little as you want. Just by adding a little more rice, egg and peas. Casual but smart looking at the same time. Yes, there’s something so warming about soups when I’m feeling under the weather. So good to replenish the system with them. Another one tonight, then.

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  7. Congratulations on your 200th post and hope you are feeling better! Soups are my favourite food whenever I’m not feeling well, a bowl of nutritious comfort!

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    • They are exactly that. I do love soup at all times, which is why I’m keen on developing more of these thin and spicy soups. I suppose they’re probably more usual within Far Eastern cuisine? It’s getting the stock right, especially as I’m not overly keen on going the miso route – even though I love those soups.
      Thanks, re 200th and feeling better.

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      • I’m not very fond of miso either. In my house, we try not to use too much of stock cubes, my mom will simmer pork ribs for 2 hours to extract the flavours. Hope I’ll have the patience to try making my mom’s soup one day haha. I’m glad you’re feeling better! Take care!

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        • I really like miso, especially soups that I used to get in Wagamama’s in London. As for stock cubes I only ever use a reputable brand here that do a really good organic veg stock cube. Always useful to have in my cupboard.
          Yes, I hope you’ll learn your Mother’s soup, one day.

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    • Thanks. As far as allergies go I don’t really have any. However, I think Omega 3 may be difficult for some men to absorb and or extract. Nearly certain I read that quite a few years ago. That could be the reason. Whatever the reason it’s a bit of a wake-up call 🙂

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  8. 200 posts! Well done and looking forward to more. The soup looks wonderful, with colour, texture, and ingredients that haven’t melted into each other. Hope you feel better soon.

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    • Thanks! I’m slowing down right now. Max 2 posts per week.
      Yes, the idea of the soup was to emulate the soup I had in Spain all those years ago. I just wanted to go spicy with these new and delicious chillies I can buy now.
      It’ll be a few more days yet to get back to normal. This cold has really floored me!

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    • Thank you. Well, I may call this a cold. But it has been wretched. However, it was so nice to head off earlier as it’s a Bank Holiday or public Hols here and the beach was packed! Looked and felt Med-like. Possibly exaggerating there a little. And no, I wasn’t on the beach. Still too cold for me today.

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  9. You´ve been to Toledo? Its beautiful 🙂 Funny what you say because Spaniards eat quite a bit of asparagus (ok I live in Barcelona and theres always that thing that they don´t consider themselves Spaniards but lets not go into that!) but the truth is that they´re not that adventurous in making it. I hope you´re feeling better!

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    • Yes, Toledo is beautiful. So much of Spain is. Including Barcelona. And yes, they do eat a lot of white asparagus. Although those were usually bought in jars. For salad? I never did find out what they did with them 🙂
      Perhaps over the worst (I’m hoping) but nowhere near better. Thanks for your comment!

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  10. Never had asparagus in a soup – absolutely have to try it! Also big like for photos, love dark moody atmosphere it really pop out the dish!

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    • I’m not sure if I’ve had asparagus before within a soup. I made a mistake, that I only realised last night, and that is not to boil or cook the chopped stems in the stock! I was wondering why they were so tasteless! They need to be steamed, griddled or pan-fried, then added to the soup. Otherwise they loose their delicate flavour. Shall update the post today.
      Thanks, re dark mood. Somehow the soup really does jump out at me. Going for a lighter mood today for my next one 🙂

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  11. Hopefully you’re feeling better today, Johnny, but if the cold keeps up, you might consider some kind of sleep aid so you can a full night’s sleep. I avoided most medications for years even when I would be knocked flat with a cold or the flu. One time I bit the bullet and took a sleep aid, and I immediately started feeling better after a day of solid rest.

    By the way, your recipe looks great. 🙂

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    • Thanks re recipe. It did turn out surprisingly well.
      As for sleeping tablets, I’m very non keen on that type of thing. I seem to be especially susceptible to any form of medication, and that can be adversely. I’m drinking lots of delicious ginger, clove, lemon and honey drinks at night so that seems to be helping. Not with sleep. Last night was only four hours again. Oddly I don’t feel that wretched, though.

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      • That’s good that you’re on the mend, Johnny! Even if I don’t take a sleeping aid tablet, I’ve found that something as simple as valerian or chamomile tea can help with sleeplessness.

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    • Thank you for that as I totally agree with you. Earlier in the week I bothered to make Aloo gobi again, and that was wasted on me. I couldn’t even smell the cumin and coriander seeds as they were roasting, never mind savour the spices when cooked. Instead, I’m going with trashy – oh yes, big, bombastic flavours for my next post. Exactly what’s needed!

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