Leek and chicken soup

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 leeks, 2 coarsely chopped,
3 thinly sliced
1 chicken, weighing 3 lb/1.3 kg
2 bay leaves
6 prunes, sliced
salt and pepper
fresh parsley sprigs, to garnish


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, carrots, and the 2 coarsely chopped leeks and sauté over medium heat for 3–4 minutes, until just golden brown.
2. Wipe the chicken inside and out and remove as much skin and fat as you can— the breast skin will come away easily with your fingers and the leg skin can be removed carefully with a small sharp knife slid between the flesh and skin. Fat clings inside the cavity and on the underside of the bird.
3. Place the chicken in the saucepan with the cooked vegetables and add the bay leaves. Pour in enough cold water to just cover and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 1–1½ hours, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon.
4. Remove the chicken from the stock, remove and discard any remaining bits of skin, then remove all the meat. Cut the meat into neat pieces. Strain the stock through a colander, discarding the vegetables and bay leaves, and return to the rinsed-out saucepan. Expect to have 5–6 cups of stock. If you have time, it is a good idea to allow the stock to cool so that the fat may be removed. If not, blot the fat off the surface with pieces of paper towel.
5. Heat the stock to simmering point. Add the sliced leeks and prunes and heat for about 1 minute.
6. Return the chicken to the pan and heat through. Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and serve garnished with parsley sprigs.

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