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When it was just my husband and me, we would trot off to the supermarket and buy packets of chicken fillets for a fiver without a second thought. Use them in a curry, or a stir fry. Job done. Fast forward seven years and I’m horrified at the thought. We never buy chicken bits any more, instead we buy a whole bird and strip the meat. I say we, I mean me. I have yet to trust D with such a responsibility, for fear that half the meat would disappear. Now our chicken purchase gives us enough chicken meat for three main meals, plus a soup. Fear not, I shall post the chicken recipes very shortly.

Anyway, we buy a bird. A large one, normally. I have two choices, to poach or to roast. Roasting the meat give a it a real depth of flavour, but poaching equals ready made chicken stock. Your call. To roast a bird, give it a wee massage with some olive oil, salt and pepper and shove it in the oven. Nothing better than salty, crispy chicken skin… mmm. To poach, chuck your chicken in a large pot, cover with water. Add a celery stalk if you have one, a carrot or two, maybe an onion if there is a small, manky-looking one at the back of the fridge. I tend to use stock-making to use up all my limp and dying veg that I would otherwise feel guilty about throwing out 🙂 some salt and pepper, a bay leaf if you have one. Bring to the boil and simmer until done (usually 90 mins or so).

Now, either way, you have a big cooked chicken in front of you. If you have poached a chicken, for goodness sake don’t throw away the cooking liquid. It is culinary nectar. Drain your chicken over another large pot, so you have a cooked chicken and some wet stewed veg on one side, and a couple of litres o chicken stock on the other.

Proceed to strip your chicken. This means take all the meat off it, every last bit you can find. Turn it upside down and inside out. Spare no dignity, the bird is dead. I usually have a large Tupperware pot right next to my chicken, and I pop all the stripped meat into it as I go. If you poached your chicken, you can discard of the carcass now. If you roasted it, use the bones to make stock.

I confess, sometimes after roasting a chicken I can’t be bothered making stock and then soup. But I don’t bin the bones. Freeze them! Pop them in a sandwich bag and freeze them until needed. It makes the Ice-cream rummage more exciting, pushing past the dead animal carcasses encased in plastic 😉 When you are ready to make the stock, simply pop the bones on a large pot of water, add some old-looking veg and seasoning (see above) and simmer for a couple of hours. Stock, done.

Lots of people freeze stock. I never have, I don’t have room. But I always, always make soup.

CHICKEN, LENTIL AND VEG SOUP

Take your pot of stock, pop it under a medium heat.

Finely chop a large onion, three celery stalks and 7-8 carrots. Add a cupful of lentils. Bring to the boil and then simmer for half an hour. Add a few pieces of your cooked chicken.

Either mash up the little veg pieces with a potato masher, or take a hand blender to the soup for a few seconds. It shouldn’t be completely smooth, just no large lumps. season with salt and pepper, and a little more chicken to be truly indulgent.

Delicious. I should know, I’ve eaten four bowls this afternoon 🙂

I promise next entry, I will remember to take a picture.

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