It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am extremely influenced by anything that I read or watch. Spend an afternoon watching interviews with actors? I could be an actor! Binge-watch a season or so of White Collar? I should get my artistic ability to that of a master art-forger, it’s definitely a plausible goal! And clearly my life goal really should be a successful career as a high-paid city lawyer (à la Suits). Ok, so that last one to be fair is potentially achievable, if I weren’t 100% certain of the fact that I’d hate it. Doesn’t stop me daydreaming though.
Recently I finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Whilst it actually, for once, had little influence on my desire to be a chef (something that crops up every few months anyway before I remember the hours working in a kitchen requires), it did send me into my own kitchen pretty quickly. It was the descriptions of big vats of stock simmering away during the day whilst other prep activities were taking place. I’d made my own stock out of bones and scraps of meat before, but I’d never really paid much attention to what I was doing or the depth of flavour that was being created. I think my previous water:ingredients:time ratio had been a little off as well.
This time, however, I was determined to make the best stock I could possibly make. As luck would have it, I had six chicken thighs waiting for me in the fridge, ready to be roasted and cut up for the following few day’s lunches. As nice as that sounded, I was far more interested in making a good, intense stock. Adding the chicken bones, a couple of cloves of garlic and a few mushrooms to a panful of water, I let it simmer away for the afternoon, disturbing it occasionally to skim any impurities off the surface. And lo and behold, when the stock was done I had the richest, clearest stock I’d ever made.
Now if only I’d had a plan of what to do with it?
The following day just turned into one of those days. I needed a pick-me-up that would make me feel both refreshed and clear-headed, and as if I’d been wrapped up in a blanket. Chicken soup is the go-to comfort food for colds/illness, but depending on the type it can often feel quite heavy – warm and comfortable but leaves you feeling a bit stuffy.
This chicken soup is rich and full of flavour, clear garlic-y chicken broth (dairy-free) that is full of vitamins and minerals (as well as garlic potentially having anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiviral benefits) and doesn’t leave feeling more phlegmy than you started, brown rice to give you energy and roast chicken to help you keep your strength up. The onion adds extra texture, flavour and the ability to improve the working of vitamin C in the body (as well as also being full of vitamins and minerals) to bring the whole dish together. It’s the perfect pick-me-up for when you need a hug but have to get straight back on with the day afterwards, and it’s so simple to make!
Cleansing (and Comforting) Clear Chicken Soup
You will need:
1 cup (240ml) clear chicken stock
1/2 medium brown onion
2 roasted chicken thighs, sliced
1/4 cup brown rice (adjustable to however much you want to eat)
2 cloves garlic (optional, see note in recipe)
Prepare the rice according to the instructions on the packet. For many types, including the one I used, simply add to boiling water and cook for 25 minutes. Some brands of rice may advise rinsing beforehand. Whilst the rice is cooking, pour your stock into a second saucepan and start to heat, gently. You don’t want the stock to boil vigorously for entire time it takes for the rice to cook or you’ll end up with hardly any left. We only started with a cup (or thereabouts), we want to make sure there’s a bowlful left at the end.
Next, thinly slice the onion before adding to the stock.
Note: Both my stock and my roast chicken already contained garlic from when I made them initially. If yours does not – for example, if they’re store-bought, – then thinly slice the two cloves of garlic and add to the stock along with the onion. These will cook into the broth – the onion and garlic themselves will soften, and their flavour will infuse into the liquid.
All that’s left to do when waiting for the rice and broth to cook is to slice the chicken thighs. Make sure they’re bite-sized thinness – you want to be able to eat this with a spoon.
When the rice is cooked, the onions are soft and the broth is hot, it’s time to assemble! Grab your big, favourite bowl. Drain the rice and place in a neat pile at the bottom of it.
Then layer on the chicken thighs.
Finally, gently add the hot broth. If you’re determined to keep everything looking neat, you could spoon the onions out into the dish before adding the liquid.
And there we have it! A very quick, comforting, cleansing chicken soup. Perfect for those not-so-great days, cold winter lunchtimes, or when you just want to play around with making stock!
- 1 cup (240ml) clear chicken stock
- ½ medium brown onion
- 2 roasted chicken thighs, sliced
- ¼ cup brown rice (adjustable to however much you want to eat)
- 2 cloves garlic (optional, see note in recipe)
- Prepare rice according to the instructions on the packet.
- Whilst the rice is cooking, pour the stock into a second saucepan and start to heat gently.
- Thinly slice the onion then add to the stock.
- (Optional) If your stock and/or chicken thighs do not already contain garlic, thinly slice two cloves of garlic and add to the stock and onions.
- Whilst the rice and stock is cooking, slice the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces.
- When the rice is cooked, the onions are soft and the broth is hot, it’s time to assemble! Drain the rice and place in a neat pile at the bottom of your favourite bowl.
- Next layer on the chicken thighs.
- Finally, gently add the hot broth. If you’re determined to keep everything looking neat, you could spoon the onions out into the dish before adding the liquid.
- And there we have it! A very quick, comforting, cleansing chicken soup. Perfect for those not-so-great days, cold winter lunchtimes.