Sunday 5 January 2014

Vaguely Iranian chicken, lime and rice soup

My first frugal recipe of 2014 is not an unfamiliar one. Chicken soup made with the carcass of last night’s roast chicken. You might think there wasn’t much new to say about that but a couple of twists transformed it from the commonplace into something quite satisfyingly exotic.

First the stock - made the usual way (carcass in a saucepan, half an onion, a bayleaf, a few peppercorns, cold water to cover, brought to the boil and simmered very slowly for a couple of hours).

I then drained and skimmed the stock which tasted so good it seemed a shame to use it as the base for something rather than a soup in its own right.

I had some leftover carrots and about 100g of brown chicken meat. I added a handful of rice and two dried limes which I pierced with a sharp knife. A handful of chopped dill (also in the fridge), a squeeze of lemon and that was that. A fragrant, nourishing Sunday night supper for next to nothing*.

The point is you could take this anyway you choose - you just have to work with what you’ve got. Which is why it’s useful accumulating a good collection of spices and seasonings.

Makes 4 bowls though we managed to demolish it between the 2 of us

1 chicken carcass
1 small or half a medium onion, peeled
6-8 peppercorns
1 bayleaf
Leftover cooked carrots or one carrot, peeled and finely sliced
About 100g of leftover chicken meat, preferably brown meat
a handful of basmatti or other long grain rice
2 dried limes (available from Asian and middle eastern shops)
A handful of fresh herbs. I used dill because that’s what I had in the fridge but you could use parsley, coriander, mint or tarragon or a combination of two or three of those (not mint on its own. Too strong). At a pinch you could use dried tarragon.
Salt and a squeeze or squirt of lemon

Put the chicken in a large saucepan with the onion, peppercorns and bayleaf. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down and simmer for at least an hour and a half, maybe two. Strain and skim the stock.

Return the stock to the pan with the carrots and chicken, season with a little salt and bring back up to simmering point. Pierce the dried limes in two or three places with a sharp knife or skewer and add to the pan along with the rice and simmer for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Remove the limes and add the chopped dill or other herbs, Add more salt and a squeeze of lemon if needed. Serve with flatbread or pitta bread.

* and a real flu-beater, I reckon.