This is a recipe for a chicken soup that Louise Marchionne used to make when she cooked for us at our sister cafe The Folk House Cafe, on Park Street. Lou is a nutritionist and fantastic cook - this soup would always appear this time of year as people began to start sniffling and sneezing (never a good thing in a kitchen) and complaining of the ague (not that anyone knew what that was but it sounded serious and requiring of soup).
It is packed with nutrition - ginger for circulation, garlic as antiseptic and both anti-inflammatory. Miso is fermented soya beans which makes it incredibly good for your gut, and helps give a real depth to the flavour. Chicken broth is good for everything as any good Jewish (Italian, Asian, Any) Mama will tell you, it is simply magic stuff.
Lou could tell you much more and you can now find her behind the counter of the Better Food Company’s deli counter on Whiteladies Road where she produces delicious, fresh salads and beaming ‘Hello Darlings’ for the lucky customers there. She can also be contacted via her website and is available for dietary and nutritional consultations.
Chicken miso soup.
To make chicken stock:
1 roast chicken carcass
2 sticks celery,
3 bay leaves
6 or 7 black peppercorns
5 cloves of garlic
1 large ‘thumb’ of ginger
Put everything in one large pot.
Fill pot with water to cover the carcass. Bring this to almost boiling point then turn right down to lowest flame and simmer for 2-3 hours, with lid loosely over the pot until the last half hour when you can reduce the liquid slightly by removing the lid altogether. Top up water if necessary but don’t dilute it too much..
Note: If you want a clearer cleaner stock then use a raw carcass, if you want a deeper darker stock then use a roasted carcass. For this soup roasted is better for flavour but both equally good nutritionally.
Strain the liquid, holding back the bones etc. The bones can be picked over for meaty bits, then discarded along with everything else.
Put the stock back in the pot and add:
1 small leek and 1 - 2 carrots very finely sliced, or ‘julienned’.
1 handful Arame seaweed – only needs rinsing and rehydrating for 15 or 20 minutes (optional but delicious and nutritious)
2 handfuls finely shredded kale or dark leafy greens.
Heat gently until the vegetables are cooked but still al dente.
Add 2 tablespoons of light Miso, a good splash of Tamari soya sauce and freshly ground black pepper. Taste it. Adjust accordingly.
Place some pre-cooked rice or buckwheat noodles in the bottom of the bowl.
Pour in ladle full of the chicken soup.
Add a few slices of spring onion and some coriander leaves on top.
Eat - it cures everything!
Substitutions and add ons…
You can substitute or almost any greens - broccoli, cabbage, spinach, chard, spring greens, lettuce, pak choi - just be aware of different cooking times. The stock is the most important ingredient - just remember that.
You can also add very finely sliced radish at the end, for some peppery crunch and a bit of colour. Also some micro greens would work very well, now grown right here in Bristol by Grow Bristol (and sold in Better Food) - pretty, delicious and nutritious - astonishing what you get in one tiny leaf! If you want to beef it up (s’cuse the pun) you can add lots more chicken meat - I would shred it.
I would avoid chunky vegetable as they would change the nature of the dish too much. Finely sliced mushrooms are a lovely extra too - it's hard to know where to stop sometimes but once you have made it a few times you will settle on your favourite way, or just get creative with whatever you have to hand, just remember it's all about the stock.
If you want to make it vegetarian/vegan you would need to make your own strong and clear veg stock, using garlic and ginger as in chicken recipe. I would also use dried mushrooms for a bit of oomph, and definitely add some fresh ones at the end. Veg stock will be another post - keep an eye out!