The loving spoonful
Autumn is a time of year for comfort food – and nothing ticks that box better than a bowl of hot soup. Photographs by Louise Hagger
Six years ago today, my husband Karl and I entered into a civil partnership. And six years before that, the first gay civil partnership in the UK took place at 11am on 5 December 2005. So what’s all this got to do with soup? Well, soup will for me always mean comfort and home, and comfort and home will always mean eating at the end of the day with Karl and our boys. Soup soothes and strengthens, and is the very definition of true love.
Shredded chicken with wild mushroom broth
My version of chicken soup for the soul. Serves two to four. For the broth 4 chicken thighs (550g), bone in, 2 skinned, the other 2 left skin-on 1 tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, chopped into 4cm pieces (no need to peel or trim)
3 banana shallots, cut into quarters lengthways (no need to peel or trim) 4 garlic cloves, crushed with the back of a knife (no need to peel or trim) Finely shaved peel of 1 small lemon 1 sprig fresh rosemary
500ml chicken stock
300ml white wine
30g dried wild mushrooms
1 tsp soft light brown sugar
Salt For the mushrooms 10g unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed 150g shimeji mushrooms 180g enoki mushrooms To serve 5g tarragon leaves, finely chopped 5g chervil leaves, finely chopped
Mix all the thighs in a bowl with the oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.
Heat a 30cm-wide, heavy-based casserole pot for which you have a lid on a medium-high flame. Lay in all the thighs (skin-side down for the two that have some), and leave to fry for five minutes, until golden brown. Turn down the heat to medium, flip over the thighs and fry for another two minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, leaving the fat in the pot and the pot on the heat. Add the carrots, shallots, garlic, lemon peel and rosemary, and fry for four minutes, stirring often, then return the chicken to the pot and add the stock, wine, water, dried mushrooms, sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and leave to simmer for an hour, until the chicken is soft enough to pull apart. Pour the contents of the pan through a sieve into a second pan that’s big enough for all the broth, then discard the contents of the sieve except for the chicken (if you don’t want to waste them, serve the mushrooms and carrots with the soup, or eat them as a cook’s treat). Remove and discard the skin from the two skin-on thighs, then use two forks to shred all the flesh.
Just before serving, melt the butter with the garlic in a large, nonstick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Leave to bubble for a minute, then add all the mushrooms and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and fry for eight minutes, stirring often, until golden-brown. Stir in the shredded chicken and cook for three minutes more, until warmed through.
Reheat the broth, if need be, then divide between four shallow bowls. Pile the mushrooms and chicken cken on top, scatter over the tarragon gon and chervil, and serve. Chestnut, fennel seed and caraway soup
Serves four. 6 garlic cloves, 4 left whole withh skin on, 2 peeled and crushed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, ed, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks nks 1 tbsp maple syrup
60ml olive oil, plus a little extra for serving
4 tsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted 4 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted Salt
2 onions, peeled and finely diced 400g ready-cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped 800ml vegetable stock
225ml vegetable oil
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Wrap the four unskinned garlic cloves tightly in aluminium foil and place in the corner of a large oven tray lined with baking paper – the tray needs to be big enough to hold all the pieces of squash.
Put the squash in a medium bowl and add the maple syrup, half the oil, half the caraway seeds, half the fennel seeds and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine, then spread out the squash on the oven tray. Roast for 30 minutes, until soft and golden-brown, then remove and set aside.
Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, nonstick saute pan or saucepan on a medium-high flame. Add the onions, crushed garlic and threequarters of a teaspoon of salt, and fry for about seven minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft and golden. Add three-quarters of the chestnuts, leave them to cook for three to four minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour over the stock. Bring to a simmer, leave to bubble gently for three minutes, then turn off the heat.
Heat all the vegetable oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high flame and, once hot, fry the remaining 100g chestnuts and a teaspoon each of fennel and caraway seeds for four minutes, until the chestnuts rise to the surface. Using a tea strainer, transfer the chestnuts and seeds to a plate l li lined d with i h kitchen ki h towel, l sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then set aside. (Don’t throw away the oil: it can be reused for deep-frying something else.)
Put the squash into a blender, and scrape in all the seeds and oil from the tray. Unwrap the roast garlic and squeeze the cloves out of their skins directly into the blender. Add the onion, chestnut and stock mixture, and the remaining teaspoon each of fennel and caraway seeds, and blitz smooth (depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches).
Heat up the soup, if need be, then divide between four bowls. Sprinkle the fried chestnuts and seeds on top, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Thai pork dumplings and noodles in broth
Pictured overleaf. Fresh kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, shrimp paste, fish sauce: these are all very good reasons to seek out your local Thai shop. All keep well (you can even freeze the lime leaves and lemongrass), so stock up. Pork fat you can buy from any decent butcher: ask them to mince it finely. Serves six as a main course. For the broth 1.5 litres chicken stock
70g galangal, thinly sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, pounded with a rolling pin to break the tough fibres 10 fresh kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn 30 whole white peppercorns (or ⅛ tsp ground white pepper)
60g coriander (leaves and stems) 60ml fish sauce For the dumplings 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes, soaked for a few minutes in 3 tbsp boiling water 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped 5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped →
30g galangal, finely chopped 2 bird’s-eye chillies, finely chopped 10g dark brown soft sugar
15g shrimp paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
1½ tsp ground cumin
10g Thai basil, roughly chopped 15g coriander leaves, roughly chopped 500g pork mince (20% fat)
100g pork fat, finely minced (see introduction)
Salt and ground white pepper To serve 500g cooked thin rice noodles 2 tbsp lime juice
20g picked small coriander stems
Put all the broth ingredients in a big pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse while you get on with making the dumplings.
Tip the chilli flakes and soaking water into the large bowl of a food processor, and add the onion, lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, chilli, sugar, shrimp paste, fish sauce, cumin, basil, coriander and a quarterteaspoon each of ground white pepper and salt. Blitz to a smooth paste, then scrape into a large bowl. Using your hands, mix in the pork and pork fat until well combined, then form into 30 dumplings.
Strain the broth into a clean pot, then squeeze out the aromatics to extract as much flavour from them as you can. Bring the broth to a boil, add the dumplings, bring back to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for seven minutes.
Meanwhile, warm the rice noodles by pouring boiling water over them (if you’re starting with uncooked noodles, cook them according to the packet instructions) and leaving them to sit for three minutes. Drain the noodles, then divide between six soup bowls and put five dumplings on top of each portion. Stir the lime juice into the broth, ladle it into the bowls, garnish with coriander stems and serve • @ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.