Monday, February 18, 2013

Tarragon Chicken Soup--with a Potato Surprise

Maybe because it is again so cold, this winter soup came to my mind today. I ate it more than twenty years ago in London.

When I was working in London in an interior designer studio, sometimes my boss Alexandra prepared this soup for lunch. At that time it was not my most favorite meal from all she made, as I am not particularly a soup person. But today, thinking how much good style and how many useful rules I have learned from her at that time, this soup stays in my memory as a souvenir of the good and exciting times.

She cooked it during winter months. She usually put a whole chicken in a huge pot and as many whole potatoes as the people the soup would be served for. I do not remember any other vegetables being added to it, which seems a bit odd. If any, they must have been only leeks and celery, as the soup was dark green in color. But I certainly remember that there was plenty of dried tarragon which made the whole taste of that chicken soup. She cooked it very slowly for a long time until the chicken and potatoes became soft. The soup looked a bit like a bouillon and was served with whole potatoes and pieces of the chicken meat on the plate. And it was surprisingly very tasty. A kind of eintopf.

These days I do not even ever buy a whole chicken, so I made a version of it with a very lean breast meat. I also added leeks and celery. When the soup was ready it tasted nice and delicate but it was very aromatic thanks to the tarragon, almost exactly as the soup I had in Alexandra's Chiswick studio many years ago.

Tarragon Chicken Soup
(Serves four)

4 chicken breasts (or any other parts you like), preferably organic,
4 large potatoes, peeled,
1 medium leek, washed well and sliced,
4 celery sticks, sliced,
2 tbsp dried tarragon leaves,
1 bay leaf,
3 all spice grains,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. In a large pot put a gallon of water with a half a tbsp of salt, bay leaf, and all spice. Bring it to boil and add whole potatoes and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
2. Add to the pot sliced chicken meat (or whole other pieces) leek, celery and tarragon. Bring to boil and cook for about 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are soft and vegetables turn dark green color.
3. Season with pepper and serve in bowls with a whole potato in the middle.