Nana's Comforting Chicken Soup
- 2 chicken carcasses available from the butcher and supermarkets
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 garlic bulb; cloves separated peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup quinoa or brown rice
- 3 carrots grated
- 1 cup grated celeriac OR 4 stalks of celery and green tops finely chopped
- handful parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Place the chicken carcasses in a large saucepan and cover with 3 litres of cold water. Add the chopped onion and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 1 hour. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface with a spoon or small sieve, as this can taint the flavour of the soup.
- Using tongs, remove the carcasses and place it in a bowl. Bring the stock back to the boil and add the garlic, quinoa, prepared vegetables, half of the chopped parsley and salt. Simmer for a further 20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the vegetables are tender. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Meanwhile, remove any meat from the chicken carcass and add it to the soup. Serve garnished with chopped parsley. Freeze extra soup into portioned containers for a quick meal.
My Nana knows how to make a good soup. We often had dinner at my grandparents while we were growing up. Both my parents were busy working so it was not unusual for Nana to pick us up after school and take us back to her place to watch a spot of TV [we didn’t have TV at home so this was quite a novelty] and then help her make dinner. I recall every dinner we made consisted of 3 courses – soup, main (your typical meat & three vege) and always a sweet dessert. How my Nana managed to get 3 courses on the dinner table every night being a busy doctor’s wife with 5 children, I do not know. I struggle some days to even get a single course on the table!
Let’s talk about the first course, the soup. It changed with the seasons, in summer it was my all time favourite chilled cucumber soup, spring called for lettuce soup [sounds strange but it is very yummy], fresh tomatoes from the garden became an autumnal soup, and in winter it was some kind of bone broth and vegetable soup. Scotch broth made with beef bones and barley, or a ham hock cooked with peas to make pea and ham soup, and another of my favourites, Nana’s chicken soup. These 3 winter soups all have one thing in common, they all require long slow-cooking of meat bones. The actual soups contain very little meat but are more a liquid broth flavoured with some token vegetables and grains. The secret is in that slow-cooking of the bones, bones that are full of minerals and iron-rich marrow that seeps into the cooking water to become a nutrient-rich broth.
All through winter we make large stock pots of bone broths – chicken, beef and fish – and freeze them in 1 litre containers to easily thaw for adding to soups / stews / making risotto/ paella /cooking rice/ pasta / vegetables. You name it we add stock to it (OK maybe not sweet recipes!), we must go through about 3 – 4 litres a week in the winter. So my Nana wasn’t too far off the mark with her daily soup eating. She didn’t read it in a book it was just what she did, most likely learned from her own Mother and Grandmother.