Chicken soup with vermicelli
This is our typical Slovak home made chicken soup I used to eat at home. When we say soup, we mean something different from the blended uniform liquid which is called a soup in England. Every household has its own way of making this and mine is also a little different every single time. This depends on my mood and the available ingredients. The following collage basically shows what ingredients and how much of them were used. This soup takes about 90 minutes to make but the reward is worth it at the end.
Making the stock: cook the chicken parts (thighs, wings, breast) together with the washed greens of the carrots and parsley, leave some parsley green aside for the final garnish. Several whole black peppers are also boiled, all together for at least half an hour. Sieve the stock into another pot and let the meat cool down. Discard the greens of the root vegetables and black pepper.
Adding vegetables: return the stock on the heat and add chopped carrots, parsley roots, spring onions, cubed kohlrabi and let it gently cook for about 10-15 minutes. Then add the vermicelli and petit pois and keep cooking for another 5-10 minutes, do not let the vermicelli overcook, follow their cooking instructions.
The meat job: meanwhile, if you do not fancy the chicken skin and fat, free the meat off the bones and other fatty tissues and return the meat to the cooking stock with the vegetables and vermicelli to finish the soup. You may wish to postpone cooking the vegetables until you will be finishing with the meat as it takes some time and the vegetables would be overcooked by then. The total amount of liquid should be about 5 liters.
Seasoning: now the fun starts. Because the stock has little flavor and taste, it needs to have some salt and flavors added to enhance it. I tend to use our typical stuff called Podravka or Vegeta, which you can buy in the multinational shops. Sometimes the liquid Maggi soup seasoning helps. Be careful with this one, it is strong. Start with a teaspoon of it and taste the soup whether you would like to add some more. The tuning of the final flavor is individual for everyone. Some may be fine with just salt.
Final step: chop some fresh parsley leaves and throw them into the soup after you have finished the cooking or sprinkle some on the soup in the serving bowl.
Warning: The flavor enhancers such as Maggi and Vegeta usually contain monosodium glutamate (MSG). Some people are sensitive to it and experience a so-called Chinese restaurant syndrome. Check the ingredients before using (buying) them. If in doubt, use a quality vegetable stock instead. For potential critics I am saying right now: no, I am not scared of MSG when it is used in small amounts in properly made meals.
Alternatives to the ingredients:
- My mother also uses the heart, stomach, liver and other parts of the chicken that sometimes come with the whole bird.
- Other vegetables can be used, such as potatoes, celeriac, green beans or even corn, the choice is yours. Especially the celeriac is a good alternative to the original parsley roots, as these are quite unknown int he UK. Do not use the parsnips as they will add sweetness and ruin the whole thing.
This was my summer chicken soup as most of the vegetables were of my own produce, except for the peas, which failed to grow last year.
- You can add some chili to make it hot and the egg vermicelli can be replaced with the rice ones. My family cooked the vermicelli separately and added placed them on the plane and then added the soup on it. I prefer it my way.
There are other ways of making this soup. Some people cook the whole vegetables, plus a large onion in its last peel, from the beginning. Hope you have enjoyed my first input here as much as we enjoyed eating my soup that time. This soup was praized by one guest as the most similar to his grandma’s chicken soup, in comparison to others, he ate since he grew up and that is a big compliment.
Happy cooking and enjoy!