In winter I’m a sunshine seeker, searching for sunlit spots in my garden where I can read or eat my lunch. Those few minutes that I spend in the yellow orb’s golden glow are truly precious in these cold winter months and I greedily grab my share. But when the sun goes down or on cloudy windy days, I turn to food for a toasty cuddle. This homey chicken soup is just what I need – a gentle yet warm embrace that reaches deep into your soul.
The recipe has saffron. You could leave it out but it does impart a subtle fragrance and a mellow buttery colour to the soup. I’ve used carrots and potatoes, which can easily be substituted for turnips, sweet potatoes, parsnips or virtually any other root vegetables.
Chicken Vermicelli Soup
- 2 chicken breasts or legs quartered
- 2 tbsps sunflower or any mild flavourless oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- flour for dusting chicken
- 2 potatoes quartered
- 2 carrots cut into large dice
- 4-5 cups chicken stock or 1 stock cube dissolved in 4 cups of water
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- a small pinch of saffron strands soaked in 2 tbsps of boiling water
- 2 egg yolks
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tbsps fresh coriander chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsely chopped
- 150 g thin rice vermicelli available in South Asian stores
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a thick casserole or Dutch oven and fry the onions till slightly soft. Add the chicken pieces dusted with flour and quickly brown (not too much or the onions will burn).
- Throw in the carrots and potatoes, cook for a couple of minutes and pour in the stock with the cinnamon stick, chilli flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer till vegetables are tender but not mushy.
- Remove the chicken, shred and discard the bones.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice and mix in the herbs and the saffron soaked in water.
- Add the vermicelli to the soup and cook for a further 7-8 minutes till they are done. Mix in the chicken followed by the egg mixture. It's important to keep the heat low or take the pan off the heat while stirring the eggs in. Once mixed, return to low heat, simmer for 2 minutes, add the pepper and serve piping hot.