Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Chicken Soup for the Soul

There is nothing worse than feeling poorly when you are away from home. Our poor house guest Maren has been poorly for the last two days and in bed and I have been trying my best to make her feel better. There is nothing nicer when you are feeling under the weather than chicken broth so this is what I made yesterday evening for Maren. Giancarlo Caldesi, when I spent time in his kitchen, taught me the importance of making a proper soffrito for the base of any soup. Although it takes a little extra time, it gives a delicious flavour. It seemed to work as by bedtime yesterday evening Maren was feeling a little better. Get well soon Maren xxx

Serves 4
Preparation time 35 minutes, cooking time 1.5 - 2 hours
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots
2 small leeks
1 red onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 large sprig rosemary
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp brandy
6 chicken thighs (skins removed)
2 litres chicken stock

Peel the carrots and onions and trim the leeks. Finely dice the carrots, onions and leeks by hand - as small as you can (Giancarlo says that chopping in a food processor just won't do - although if you are short of time you can of course use a food processor) Add the oil to a large saucepan and saute the vegetables, together with the sprig of rosemary (leave whole as you don't want the rosemary in the soup, just for flavour) and bay leaves. Crush the garlic clove under the flat blade of a large knife so that the flavour will be released but the clove stays whole and add to the pan. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes over a gentle heat until the vegetables are very soft. Remove the rosemary, bay and garlic clove and discard. Add the brandy to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season the chicken and add to the pan (pushing the vegetables to the side of the pan so the chicken is in contact with the base of the pan) and brown gently. Once the chicken is browned, add the stock to the pan and simmer for 1 1/2 hours over a gentle heat. When the soup is ready, use a slotted spoon and remove the chicken from the pan. Chop into small pieces (allow to cool a few minutes before you do this as the chicken will be hot). Strain the vegetables from the soup so you are left with the clear soup base (but keep the vegetables as you will return them to the soup shortly). Skim the soup to remove the oil that will cover the surface using a large spoon or a gravy strainer. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty bread and you are sure to feel better soon.


Bellini Valli said...

This soup will fix anything...the powerhouse of foods!!!

Sadie said...

ooh yes, that looks like a yummy soup that could cure all. Hope your guest is feeling better soon :o)

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

today was my lucky day..i found YOU!

i am in love..this is all so wonderful....

LOVE your new cookbook..i have to get it....

love all the great cooking going on here..the soup looks wonderful....so good.....

i'll be back very soon


Marie said...

Chicken soup makes all things better for sure. Yours looks fabulous!

LenaL said...

Oh, it sounds lovely! Have to try that, I'm sure it's perfect for a cold, snowy, ugly winterday as well!