My Sundays are now an oasis at the end of a week that usually takes everything I have to give. Amazingly the time I spend actively seeking rest and putting busyness and activity away gives me strength for the week to come. The time I spend resting gives me energy for working.
And this chicken soup is a bit like that, a meal that keeps on giving. It takes around five to 10 minutes of prep time depending on what the ingredients are, and it allows for keeping it the same week after week or for a bit of variety if I start to feel bored. But the best part? It feeds us for lunch and dinner on Sunday and then I get to use the left over chicken for lunches for at least two days of the week.
The base of this soup is a whole chicken, cold water, salt and pepper. Depending on the ingredients I have around (and my particular fancy for the week), it turns into a Vietnamese-inspired Asian broth or I go the way of the northern hemisphere and make it into a carrot, leek, thyme and bay leaf affair. The recipe below is for what I made for the past two Sundays. If you make this soup and find that you like the flavours, Smitten Kitchen had a recipe last week for Chicken Pho, which looks amazing.
I usually get it ready on Saturday evening by putting everything into the pot except for the water and returning it to the fridge. It is the most lovely feeling only have to add water before putting the pot on the stove to cook and knowing that our meals for the whole day are done.
1 whole chicken
10 slices of ginger
2 lemongrass stalks, crushed with a rolling pin
3 star anise
3 cardamom pods, bruised
egg noodles (whatever quantity suits your needs)
kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
(For the Asian version of this soup, a variety of veggies would be excellent compliments: mushrooms, broccoli, sliced carrots. Kale was what I had, and it worked very well)
1. Place chicken, ginger, lemongrass, star anise and cardamom pods in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. (I would normally add sea salt and black pepper, but I left it and salted at the end because I needed the chicken to feed Baby who needs everything unsalted right now.)
2. After it boils, lower to a simmer and let it bubble for an hour.
3. After an hour, the chicken should be cooked completely. Remove it from the broth, take the meat off the bones and shred.
4. Bring the broth back to a boil, add the kale and egg noodles and cook according to the instructions on the packet. You could also cook the egg noodles separately and add however much you want. It does lose its texture a bit when it stays in the liquid all day. We keep it like this to serve its simple purpose for our Sunday, but I can imagine it would be better with the noodles left out and added in if you wanted to reheat the soup and eat later.
5. Take out the lemongrass, ginger, star anise and cardamom if you prefer it that way (we like to leave it in), then add however much chicken you want in the soup and put the rest away for lunches (like sandwiches and tacos), serve up in bowls and your done.