As I wasn’t able to buy fresh coriander (cilantro) for my pineapple salsa last weekend I went with chicken as planned. And in using a large, almost branch, stem of my thyme that’s been thriving all year on a south-facing window sill. The stem was falling over it was so heavy, so that was snipped to encourage new basal growth for more pickings toward the end of summer. I’d kind of forgotten just how good the very traditional usage of thyme with chicken can be, and how ridiculously flavoursome this Chicken and Thyme Soup turned out.
Those first few sips had me almost reeling, cursing myself for usually adding so many other ingredients – no matter how good those stocks have been. Normally I would add lots of juniper berries, but I’m out of those right now and probably won’t buy them in again until Autumn. And what I’d completely forgotten to use was cayenne pepper. Guess what, it’s not needed!
Chicken and Thyme Soup, with pan-fried white turnip discs & root vegetables
For the soup:
- 100g (3.52 0z ) x dried cannellini beans, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight
- 2 x medium white turnips (about 10cm or 4in in diameter), trimmed, sliced into discs crossways and peeled
- flat leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
- sour cream, to serve – optional
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
For the stock:
- 250g (8.81 oz) x onions, peeled, trimmed and cut in half
- 3 x carrots or 200g (7.05 oz), peeled, trimmed and kept whole (if they fit into the saucepan)
- 3 x parsnips or 200g (7.05 oz), peeled, trimmed and kept whole
- 3 x dried bay leaves, split
- 10 x whole black peppercorns
- 5 x organic garlic cloves, root end cut of and discarded, cloves peeled and kept whole
- 500g (17.63 oz) x chicken leg quarters (that includes the drumstick and thigh), skin and excess fat removed and discarded
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x cold water
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 1 x very large or 3 sprigs fresh thyme, remove any wood and discard
- 3 x flat leaf parsley stems, rinsed
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- After soaking the cannellini beans overnight rinse thoroughly in plenty of cold running water. Add to a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add a lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). Bring to a boil, remove from heat and carefully strain the beans into a metal colander. Return to the saucepan and repeat the same process. Third time cover with plenty of cold water, bring to a boil then simmer until cooked. The cooking liquor can be used to help flavour the soup if needed. Until then set aside.
- Add all of the stock ingredients to a large saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). Bring to a boil, stir briefly and make sure chicken pieces are fully submerged. Remove the carrots and parsnips if those are to be served with the soup and set aside. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer the stock for up to an hour (with the lid on), longer even better.
- When stock has simmered removed the chicken pieces and garlic and set those aside. Strain the stock through a metal colander into a large suitable bowl. Then grab a large metal serving spoon and squish the remaining veg with the back of it to extract as much of their juice and nutrients as possible. Discard the pulp that’s left. Then strain the stock again through a fine wire metal sieve into a large saucepan. Add the garlic, chicken, cannellini beans, carrots and parsnips and put on a gentle heat.
- In the meantime put a large heavy-based pan or skillet on heat No 3. When hot add a little oil. Place the white turnip discs into the pan and pan-fry on both sides until golden, removing those that are cooked and keeping them warm.
- Serve the soup with freshly chopped flat leaf parsley and a dollop of sour cream.
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