SOUP - Northern Ireland's Best
I promised VinceSummers a recipe for chicken leek broth, though I couldn't provide the Chinese dumplings he was also wanting. I have changed the method of cooking it considerably over the years. The latest change followed from reading 24 carrot diet's recipe for Quebec style pasta sauce. Once I had read it and understood the implications, I applied them in a lot of recipes that used carrots and added carrots to those that had not previously used them! Unfortunately, the 24 carrot diet site is not available at present, hopefully this fantastic recipe for pasta sauce, and the other ones will become available again, very soon. OK, get on with the soup recipe!
I use the stock made using a chicken carcass.
Once the chicken has been cooked and carved and all that's left are the bones and a few scraps, I pop those in the slow cooker, along with 2 fresh bay leaves (or you can use dried) and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, top up with boiling water and leave the whole lot on to cook at the low setting for 36 to 48 hours. Once the stock is ready, I strain out the bones and set the stock aside. Alternatively, get a soup bone from the butcher (one with marrow in it) and slow cook for 2 days of course, this is beef broth, not chicken broth!
After the chicken has finished cooking and I have lifted it out of the roasting foil, I collect the juices that are left behind in a glass jug and let them cool. They separate out into the bottom portion - solid at our room temperature - and a layer of fat on top. I just let those sit with a plate to cover. No need to refrigerate. When I am ready to use this, I scrape the fat off the top and dispose of it and just use the gelatin portion.
I use the following ingredients to make the soup:
4 ounces (125 g) of soup mix. This is a mixture of barley, lentils, split peas etc. It's a dried mixture that we can buy in packets. You can just use lentils if you wish. or dried peas, or split peas or a mix in any proportion. (Dried peas will need overnight soaking)
1 or 2 carrots, scraped and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced (optional)
A pack of soup vegetables. We can buy these fresh (mixture of celery, parsley and leek), needing to clean and chop them finely or in a ready chopped package. (Need 2 of those).
The stock made as above, strained to remove the bones.
1. Wash the soup mix in clean water and put on to boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes. Top up the saucepan if necessary: be careful it doesn't boil dry because the dried pulses absorb water. If you are only using red lentils, just wash them, there is no need to cook them separately. If you use dried peas, you will need to soak them overnight, before cooking. DO NOT ADD SALT. Salt toughens the skins and the barley will never go soft.
2. Add a good knob of butter to a saucepan, let it melt, then add the diced carrots and let them fry gently for about 30 minutes. This is the crucial step is getting really tasty soup. Don't burn them but let them cook gently in the butter. The chemical reaction from this frying is what adds the glorious taste to the soup.
3. Clean and chop the remaining soup veg (leek, celery and parsley and parsnip, if used) and add to the carrots, let the mix fry very gently for about 10 minutes, to let the veg "sweat".
4. Add salt to the veg to taste.
5. Add the strained stock.
6. Add the gelatin saved from the cooking.
7. Check the soup mix (barley etc) has softened and is not chewy and add that. (If you add it before it has finished cooking it will not soften further in the soup because of the salt). If you are using only red lentils, you can just add them (WASHED) at this point to the soup, they do not need pre cooking.
8. Bring the soup to the boil, then simmer gently until all the vegetables are cooked.
9. You can serve immediately with bread or a potato for a hearty meal. It will be even better the following day if you can wait!
Soup Weight Loss
If you are trying to lose weight, substitute one or even two meals a day for this soup (minus the bread or potato). It is nourishing, healthy, low calorie, low carb and fills you up. It's especially nice when it's cold outside. If you need extra fiber, add wheatbran or oatbran to your dish of soup, immediately before eating it. The bran will be tasty and easy to swallow. Drink plenty of liquid with it.
Image Credit » (c) MegL, my own photo