1 chicken carcass (left from roast chicken dinner!)
1 small carrot (or trimmings from soup preparation)
1 small onion (or trimmings from soup preparation)
1 small celery stick (or trimmings from soup preparation)
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch of thyme
for the vegetable soup:
1.50l chicken or vegetable stock
100g peeled and chopped potatoes
100g peeled and chopped carrots
100g peeled and chopped onions
100g peeled and chopped leeks
100g broccoli stalks
4-5 coriander seeds
salt and pepper
100ml olive oil
for the herb croutons:
3 slices of bread
100ml olive oil
To make the Chicken Stock:
After removing as much of the meat as possible from your chicken carcass, place it in a large pot along with all the remaining ingredients. As you will only be using the liquid from this, it is not important how you chop the vegetables. In fact, it is a lot more economical to use the trimmings from the vegetables you prepare for the soup itself.
Add the water and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. It is important not to boil the stock or simmer for too long as the stock will become cloudy as the chicken breaks down.
Once cooked strain the liquid into a jug or similar (remember it is the liquid you want to keep!!!). Once it has cooled remove any fat that may have gathered at the top.
To make the Vegetable Soup:
In a large pot heat the olive oil. Add in all the vegetables except the potatoes. It is important not to add the potatoes at this stage as the starch in them will cause them to stick and burn at the bottom of the pot.
Add the seasoning, chopped thyme and coriander seeds. Continue to turn the vegetables over a low heat until you can see moisture gathering in the bottom of the pot. Add the stock followed by the potatoes. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Depending on how small you have cut the vegetables, the soup should take between 20 -30 minutes to cook.
Remove from the heat once all the vegetables are soft and easily crushed with a fork. Pour off a little of the liquid and set aside. This is the best way to control how thick or thin your soup is. You can remove liquid at this point and add it again later but you will be unable to make the soup thicker later if you don’t!
Pour the remaining vegetables and stock into a jug blender. It is best to use a jug blender as this will ensure a much smoother soup than a food processor; however, it is not essential. Once the soup has been pureed and poured through a conical strainer you can now correct the seasoning and consistency by adding the liquid you saved if it is too thick. Before serving, finish with the chopped parsley.
To make the Herb Croutons:
Remove the crust from the bread and cut into evenly sized shapes.
Place on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the herbs on top and toss the bread well. Place in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 8 minutes or until the bread has become golden brown. Croutons are best served hot so you do this just before you serve the soup or reheat them under a grill for a minute or two.
This is entirely up to you. Some lightly whipped cream with fresh herbs is always great with soup but not essential if your watching the calorie count. Serving the croutons on the side ensures they remain crisp write up to the last minute. But what ever you do make sure the soup is served boiling hot in a heated bowl.