This is my ultimate go to comfort food meal. My partner turned his nose up at soup for dinner but it’s so filling and yummy, he’s now a convert. A whole chicken is cooked all day, bones and all, to create a delicious fresh stock so if anyone in the house is a bit under the weather, this is top of the list. It is also one of the most frugal meals I make as the leftover chicken makes another meal for the next day.
1 whole chicken (I use medium which feeds 4 of us for 2 days, honestly! but go large if you need to)
Couple of carrots (but any veg you have hanging around is fine, it’s only to flavour the stock)
2 bay leaves
125g soup pasta (or any teeny tiny pasta)
200g bag of fresh spinach
Freshly grated parmesan
1Put the chicken into the slow cooker (I like to leave it on for about 8 hours so I sometimes do this the night before or sometimes in the morning depending on plans for the day). Add enough water to cover the chicken, then add the chopped vegetables, bay leaves and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Turn to low and leave to slowly cook. In my slow cooker this takes around 6-8 hours but this will depend on the model – the longer the better.
2Remove the chicken to a plate, it will fall apart so use a couple of big flat spoons to gently fish it out. Leave to one side to cool (it’s easier to pick once cooled) Discard all the vegetables (they will taste of soggy nothing!) and strain your stock. At this point I usually reserve half to freeze for another day/dish.
3Pick all the meat from the chicken. I wouldn’t say this is the most pleasant job in the world but it’s strangely satisfying to see how much meat comes off (I get a heaped dinner plate from 1 medium chicken). Discard all the nasty bits.
4Pour your strained stock into a large saucepan. It will be quite strong, so add more water (about another 50%).
5Check for seasoning, it may need more.
6Add 125g of tiny pasta (half the bag) and simmer until soft.
7Chuck in a bag of spinach and half the shredded chicken and warm everything through.
8Serve in big bowls topped with LOTS of fresh grated parmesan and crusty bread.
I haven’t personally tried to freeze as it always gets demolished, but I imagine it would freeze well. I use the other half of the chicken the next day to make a curry/pasta bake/risotto/pie or just for posh sandwiches.
By Emma Dunn