103. Alpine Minestrone
Ok so in preparation of showing a little more restraint from tomorrows Pancake Day, and following a lovely roast chicken yesterday I made a fridge raid clear out soup using the chicken bones and leftover meat, plus stray veg and the remains of a jar of beans. In the absence of any hope of getting to the Alps this year I pimped the soup with smoked bacon and cheese to transport myself momentarily to a noisy mountain top restaurant. If only.
You can use whatever veg you have; usually I would use a few more roots but we finished them all with the roast and anyway the courgettes were lovely. Ideally you want a mix of roots and greens, plus beans or pasta, and a few herbs. Last week I bought a bottle of smoked chorizo oil (vegan - don't ask!) which has a lovely rich smoky paprika flavour. If you have anything like this then that will add an extra dimension at the end, or you could use chorizo at the start with or instead of the bacon, or just pour over a bit of your best olive oil at the end. It all adds to the richness.
As for the cheese, I would often top a soup like this with finely grated parmesan but these little nuggets of semi hard cheese somehow hold together so at the same time as making the broth a bit creamy you get the odd oozy chewy bite which is just gorgeous.
Enough for 2 generously:
1 leftover roast chicken carcass still with a bit of meat on it
Half an onion, 2 bay leaves, and 1 small carrot cut in half - for the stock
3 or 4 slices of smoked streaky bacon
1 large banana shallot
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (I use aleppo)
1 tsp lightly crushed cumin or fennel seeds
1 large stick of celery
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 medium courgette
1 tsp red wine vinegar (or sherry, or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tin of white beans (haricot, cannellini or chickpeas)
2 large handfuls of kale, roughly torn or shredded
Small bunch parsley leaves, roughly chopped
50g nutty semi-hard cheese such as comte, gruyere or emmental, cut into very small cubes
Chorizo oil or extra virgin olive oil
Strip the remaining meat from the roast chicken carcass tearing into small pieces and set this aside. Break up the carcass and put the bones in a medium saucepan along with any skin, jelly and veg from the roasting tin. Completely cover with cold water, season with salt and pepper and add the onion, bay and carrots. Bring to the boil over a high heat and simmer rapidly to reduce and intensify the stock. Get this started before anything else - the longer it has simmering, the more flavourful your soup will be.
Once the stock is on, dice the bacon and place in a large saucepan over a medium heat with a glug of olive oil. While the bacon is cooking finely dice the shallot and garlic, and cut the celery, carrots and courgettes into equal sized small chunks about 1cm. Once the bacon is turning golden add the shallot and garlic, along with the chilli, cumin or fennel seeds and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for another minute or so before adding the celery and carrot. Once these vegetables have had a couple of minutes to soften add the courgettes and vinegar, give it all a stir then ladle in about 300ml of stock from the pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes then add the chicken meat, beans and shredded kale topping up with stock - just enough to cover the vegetables.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding some fresh black pepper. Simmer gently for about another 8 minutes then stir through the parsley and take off the heat. Ladel into warm bowls, scatter over the cheese and drizzle over the oil.