Two kinds of chicken soup

This first version is often made a day or two after we’ve had a roast chicken dinner. Tip the leftover carcass, with any bits of meat left on it, into a large pot, cover with water and bring to boil while cutting up the following: 

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • An inch of fresh ginger root, also sliced or julienned
  • A couple sticks of celery, also sliced fine

Throw these bits into the pot. Boil up for an hour or so, removing any grey scum from the surface from time to time. Once the liquid has reduced by about a third, take out the bones and any chewy stuff. When it’s cool, pick any meat there is off the bones. At this point I might put the whole lot in the fridge to deal with the next day. This also makes it easy to skim off the fat once it’s risen to the top as a jelly-like layer.

Dice all the leftover meat finely. Return the stock to the pot with half to one chicken stock cube – supermarket chickens are so bland that generally I do use a whole stock cube. Add one can of creamed corn (not corn kernels). Add the leftover meat. Taste and add the following:

  • Salt and white pepper
  • Finely chopped spring onions and coriander leaves
  • Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar – about a tablespoon

This is quite a rich soup which needs the vinegar to balance out the sweetness. If you are making a large quantity and need to thicken it a bit, add a beaten egg to the boiling soup at the end, swirling it around with a fork to create threads.

I actually don’t remember ever eating this at home in childhood. This version has evolved from memories of soups eaten in Chinese restaurants: ones containing special-occasion ingredients like crabmeat or (I’m sorry to say) shark’s fin – which we wouldn’t eat today.

My children and husband like this rich version. If I’m cooking to please myself, though – and especially, if I’m feeling like I’m about to catch cold – I prefer this recipe on Ann Jebaratnam’s Fabulous Sugar blog (scroll down the page to see her 31 July 2010 post). This version, I wouldn’t tinker with at all; it’s the one that lives in our collective memory, and is just right as it is.

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