I am ridiculously obsessed with chicken soup. I have many tried-and-tested recipes that I now make my own and I cannot, will not ever eat chicken soup from a tin again.
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I mean people wouldn't write books about chicken soup for your soul if they didn't have an actual bowl first, right? And it made them feel better, right? Right. After doing a bit of research, I have come to two conclusions: scientifically, chicken soup is good for you when you're sick because it's full of water and salt – two things that are depleted when you are under the weather. I know I can't sit in bed and sink gallons of water and potato chips when I'm ill but I can sure guzzle down a bowl of soup. It's also very soothing for your stomach. Nothing too harsh, just gentle flavours that are easy to digest.
Psychologically it's good for you because it is very difficult to make a chicken soup without a little love going into it. Even your mortal enemies' heart will melt a little if they make chicken soup (providing they leave the arsenic out).
My partner "Hairy" was very sceptical when he watched me make this. Probably because there was no oregano or feta in it and his visceral reaction is to discount soup as a proper meal, but when he tasted it he was astounded. He gave it 10 out of 10 – which is a huge compliment from someone so fussy. He claimed it was a great body building meal – full of protein and veggies and not much badness (a hint of butter is good for you). So there you go, from invalids and the ailing to body builders, this soup hits the mark for mind, body and soul.
Zuppa de Polpote (Italian Chicken Soup)
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
500gms chicken mince
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 litre chicken stock
1 small bunch of silver beet
1 leek sliced
1 potato, diced small
Parmesan cheese to serve.
Mix mince, breadcrumbs, egg and parsley together and season with pepper and salt. Roll into small balls – it's much easier to do with damp hands. Bring stock and water to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Place potatoes and chicken meat balls into stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile gently soften the leeks and silver beet in a frying pan in half a teaspoon of butter or olive oil. Remember to thoroughly wash silver beet and leeks always as they love sand and you don't want sandy soup. Spoon these vegetables into soup just before serving. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Watch: Curtis Stone cooks parmesan and Dijon crusted chicken with beans and capers