This is an adaptation of a Chicken Pasta Broth recipe in Soups and Starters that we never quite get around to writing down. The initial recipe only makes enough for two bowls and only uses leek and carrot - being lazy and loving corn, we make a vat of it with corn and celery and freeze it.
If you are going to use chicken pieces, try to find marylands (breast and thigh on bone together) or breast on the bone (not easy these days). Alternatively you could buy legs and/or thighs on the bone and breast and/or thigh fillets, cook the boneless chicken a little less long.
It takes 3-4 litres of liquid, divided roughly into half stock, half water. I bias it in favour of the stock for more flavour.
1 to 1.5 kg chicken pieces (skinned), or a whole chicken, skinned and cut up into pieces
1-2 leeks (two if small), trimmed, sliced and washed
3-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
4-5 sticks celery, sliced
corn kernels - either two cobs or a 440g tin
2 litres chicken stock (salt reduced if preferred)
1-2 bouquet garni
cup of small pasta shapes - I use shells, the original used spirals. I honestly don't know how much I use, a couple of handfuls usually.
fresh thyme if you can get it
shake of mixed herbs
fresh parsley to garnish
1. Put the chicken pieces in a large pot. Add the vegetables (leek, carrot, celery). If the corn is from a fresh cob, add that too. Pour over the stock plus an additional 1-2 litres of water (as required to cover). Bring to the boil.
2. Add the bouquet garni, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken cooked.
3. Remove the chicken from the liquid and set aside. Season liquid with pepper, and salt as required (may not be required if stock was salty). Throw out the bouquet garni. If you have time, let the soup cool for a few minutes and skim the top (there shouldn't be much fat, but there will be a little from a whole chicken).
4. Bring soup back to the boil (or the pasta will sink to the bottom and stick), add the pasta to the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the bone and cut into small pieces. If using tinned corn, drain and rinse and add here.
5. When the pasta is cooked, return the chicken to the soup. Add flaked thyme leaves and/or a shake of mixed herbs. Reheat chicken in soup, adjust salt and pepper.
6. Serve sprinkled with parsley, if you remember (I never do).