Flavourful stock, freshly cooked chicken, root vegetables and noodles make a classic chicken soup. Every country in the world has its own version. I like to use orzo, which is a rice-shaped pasta. Each grain is slightly smaller than a pine nut and is made from hard white semolina. In Italy, orzo is frequentlyused in soups such as this one.
- 1.5kg (3 ¼lb) whole chicken
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2.5 litres (4 ½ pints) water
- 2 celery sticks, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 200g (7oz) orzo pasta (or similar small pasta shapes)
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the whole chicken in a large stockpot or pan over a medium heat with the celery, onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and water. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer very gently for 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through. Use a metal spoon to occasionally skim the foam from the surface.
Remove the chicken from the stock and allow it to cool slightly. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables – you should have 2.5 litres (4 1/2 pints) in total. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Set the meat aside.
To finish making the soup, return the stock to a clean pan over a medium heat and add the celery, carrots, orzo pasta and thyme leaves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the pasta is just tender. Add the cooked shredded chicken, then bring back to a simmer and cook for another 2–3 minutes, until the vegetables are just cooked. Stir in the parsley and season to taste. Ladle into bowls to serve.