Warm, comforting, loving. Those are the words that describe my Mom’s chicken soup.
However, being under the weather last week and her not being in Tanzania, I couldn’t get my hands on a bowl made by the master, so I asked her to send me step by step instructions and muddled through. This is her recipe with some slight changes, because now I’m much more concerned with the amount of greens in my diet than I was as a child. But I think the bright green leafy colour adds an extra freshness.
4 sticks celery *
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
4 whole peppercorns
1 roast chicken carcass, with leftover chicken attached
Cold water, enough to cover the carcass **
1 large knob butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1 cup rice or green lentils (optional to add a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped)
2 handfuls seasonal greens, such as kale or mchicha washed and shredded
200g spinach, roughly shredded
*Note: Tanzanian celery is quite potent so you may need to adjust amount to meet your personal tastes. If you’re like me and not a big fan of the celery flavour, reduce it to two pieces and only use when boiling the base stock.
**Note: When making chicken stock, the water really must be cold when you start, or the collagen won’t melt properly and you won’t get any gelatin in your stock.
1. Wash 2 of your carrots and 2 of your celery sticks and roughly chop them. Add them to a large saucepan with the onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, a pinch of sea salt and the chicken carcass. Fill the pan with cold water so that everything is covered, then place on the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface from time to time.
2. Peel your remaining carrots, wash your remaining celery (if desired), and slice them nice and evenly, about ½cm thick. In another large saucepan on a low heat, melt your butter with a Tb of olive oil. Add the garlic, shallots and chopped parsley stalks and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. When your stock is ready, remove the chicken carcass, pull off any remaining pieces of meat and leave to one side, then discard the carcass. **** Strain your stock through a sieve into the pan with your sautéed vegetables and lentils or rice. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Add your seasonal greens and cook for a further 10 minutes, adding the spinach for the last minute.
4. Add a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Include any leftover chunks of chicken, a sprinkling of parsley leaves and a good bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Note: A lot of cookbooks advocate the skimming of the fat from the stock. If you let the fat settle in a layer on top of the stock as it cools, the fat will act as a protective layer against bacteria, which is found in the air. The stock will last longer in the refrigerator if you keep the fat layer on it. Just lift up the layer of fat and remove the stock when you want to use it.