Coming home from holiday is always a bit of a downer. Especially when the holiday has been all about stunning sunrises, followed by endless blue sky days, gleeful children, crabbing in the rock pools at low tide, and wine at lunchtime…. and the coming home, more about overtired kids, endless piles of washing, and rain. Still, life’s a bag of chips; not all will be perfectly crisp and fluffy in equal proportions. When faced with a slightly pale chip of a day, the best thing to do is to brew up a bit of soul food.
Top of the soul food pops has to be a hearty bowl of chicken chowder. Today, I was starting from scratch – no chicken stock at the ready. So started by putting a whole chicken in a pan full of water and simmering it slowly through the afternoon. This gives you stock, and a whole pile of chicken. You can’t really over-cook it – the longer it simmers the better. The chicken will kind of fall to pieces when you come round to lifting it out of the stock, and it won’t win any beauty contests, but soul food is rarely about aesthetics. You can add any old random herbs and spices to the stock that take your fancy. It’s hard to imagine something that wouldn’t enhance the stock. I put in some paprika, turmeric, salt pepper and a star anise. I could have popped out to pick some herbs, but it seemed too much effort for my state of mind.
For the chowder – fry some onions, garlic, chopped bacon and potato together. When the bacon is cooked add it all to the (strained) chicken stock. Then add a cup of red lentils (if you have a red lentil habit that rivals mine) any other veg you like / can be bothered to chop up (I used a couple of carrots and fresh sweetcorn). Shred up some (or all) of the chicken and add it back.
Parsley, cheesy croutons…or garlic bread… it’s hard to go wrong from here.