Serendipity Soup

Pumpkin gnocchi

The edibility of soup depends, to a great extent, on the quality of stock you use. Having a good fresh (or frozen) stock to hand will improve it considerably, but a couple of stock cubes will do. I also grow a lot of leeks, mainly because they're easy and they sit in the ground without a fuss for months. Leeks are my favourite soup ingredient. The recipe below uses a leftover chicken carcass. Call it Chicken soup if enough meat was left over to be detected in the bowl, otherwise make up a name based on the main ingredients.

Serves 4

For the stock:

  • 1 chicken carcass, meat stripped off and put in the fridge
  • a selection of stock-making vegetables cut into chunks - onion, carrot, leek, celery
  • seasoning to taste - bay leaves and bouquet garni if you have them
  • 1.5 litres water

For the soup:

  • leftover chicken pieces, shredded
  • a potato
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped - or 1 onion
  • assorted vegetables - your choice.
  • I sometimes find a tin of tomatoes and some haricot beans useful here if I'm short on time or vegetables
  • 50g butter / 2 tblsp oil
  • seasoning - extra stock / bouillon powder / pepper / spices / garlic

For the stock

Put all the ingredients into a large pan with a lid. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for around an hour. If you're freezing it to use at a later date, then do reduce the stock (by boiling it down without the lid on).

For the soup:

  1. Chop all the vegetables up into chunks - I dice them up small, but if you like it chunkier, then do larger dice.
  2. Soften the leeks/onion in butter or oil in a heavy based pan, then add the diced vegetables and sweat them gently for around 20 minutes. This slow sweating will help draw out the flavour of the vegetables.
  3. Add the stock and chicken, bring to the boil and simmer gently for another 20 minutes.
  4. Check the flavour and season accordingly. Serve with crusty bread (house rule: the more feeble the soup, the nicer the bread should be).

To find out more about Jo's practical gardening workshops visit or call 01233 861186

  • Words, pictures and recipes Jo Arnell