Thursday, 28 November 2013

Chicken, Leek, and Sweetcorn Soup

Chicken, leek, and corn soup (with carrots)

One of my favourite soups this time of year is a chicken, leek, and sweetcorn soup.This particular recipe that I use is so easy that anyone can make it. I generally make a soup a day or two after cooking a roast chicken dinner.The chilli serves to lift the flavour without adding spicy heat. However, feel free to leave it out should you not want it.

Recipe

Main ingredients
You will need:
  • 4 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 - 2 cups cooked chicken meat
  • 2 leeks cleaned and chopped
  • 4 ears corn (Or 1 cup frozen corn)
  • 1 red jalapepeno chilli deseeded and diced
  • Optional: 1 x 400gm tin creamed corn 
  • salt and ground back pepper

Instructions
  1. Add all of the ingredients to the chicken stock. Bring up to a boil, decrease the heat and cover. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add other root vegetables if desired, just chop into bite size pieces first.
  3. Serve with crusty bread or rolls and butter.

Leeks

Leek
Leeks are a vegetable that grow partially in the ground, partially above ground. They are alliums and related to onions and garlic. The leek has a mild onion-y flavour and goes very well as a stand alone vegetable or combined with mild flavoured foods such as with chicken, pork or some types of fish.

The leek will need to be trimmed, cleaned, and sliced. Then slice the leek in half length-wise and cut each half into 1/4 - 1/2 inch wide strips.

How to clean a leek
The key to cleaning a leek is plenty of running water.

1. Peel off the outer leaves.
2. Trim off the darker part of the stalk. Save those for making a stock.
3. Trim off the root fringe and about 1/4 inch of the stalk.
4. Pull back the outer leaves enough to see where the dirt is hiding, hold the leek under running water, and rinse off as much as you can find.
I prefer not to cut the leek down lengthwise every time though this does make cleaning easier. In some dishes I want to cut the leek into rings, which is not really possible if I've sliced it in half already!.

Chicken

Chicken stock
Use a whole chicken or leftovers from a roast chicken dinner. Or do as I like to do and use reserved chicken carcasses plus the wings that have been kept in the freezer.
Place the chicken in a pot, add in the reserved leek stalks, a few black peppercorns, a bay leaf, some thyme, and a bit of salt.
Add in enough water to cover.
Place on the heat and bring up to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat, and let it simmer for at least 40 minutes. The longer you can leave it to cook, the better the stock will be and the more tender the chicken.
Once cooked, remove the chicken. Let the chicken cool and strip off all the meat.
Strain the liquid and return it to the pot.

Sweetcorn

sweetcorn
You can, of course, use frozen corn for this dish, but if corn is in season it's a good time to get a few fresh ears and trim the kernels off yourself.

Parboil the corn to start. Place the ears in a deep pot. Add in just enough water to cover and boil the ears for about 5 minutes. If you picked the ears yourself, they're probably quite fresh. If you bought them from the grocery store or supermarket though, there's a chance the ears are several days old, in which case the sugars will have started to break down.

Counter this and bring the sweetness of the corn out by adding a teaspoon of vinegar (cider vinegar works well) to the water.

Once cooked, remove from the water and cool. Then you can easily remove the kernels from the cob.

Do this using a sharp paring knife. Hold the ear at a 60 degree angle from the surface on a cutting board. Using a sawing motion, cut down each side of the cob to remove all the corn.

Strain and add the cooking water from the corn to the chicken stock if you want.