Sometimes in life, there are those days or weeks when you need a soup that takes the better part of an afternoon to make. Be it the pangs of cooler days or the need to just get back to basics, this is the kind of soup that rewards you. Not only just from the flavours in the bowl, but also from the little bit of mindfulness that comes from an hour or two of simple, pressure free and uncomplicated pottering in the kitchen.
As much as I adore traditional avgolemono, the much-loved Greek chicken soup with egg and lemon that has nourished many generations, this soup (sans egg) is comforting in its simplicity and punchy lemon tang. While a more traditional avgolemono soup would use rice, in this soup I prefer the almost kitschy addition of some really old school noodles, in the form of a short pasta called 'koftaki' or 'kofto miso' in Greek. Keep this recipe in your back pocket for the winter months ahead, or for when you just need a little uncomplicated and undemanding time in the kitchen.
Greek style chicken noodle soup with lemon (σούπα με κοτόπουλο, μακαρόνια και λεμόνι)
2 medium brown onions, unpeeled and halved
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 large carrots, unpeeled and roughly chopped
1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
About 2 kg chicken bones (I prefer uncooked chicken legs/drumsticks)
About 4 litres of water
1 & 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
3 fresh bay leaves
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary
10-12 black peppercorns
1 cup of koftaki' or 'kofto miso' short pasta
4-6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1. Place the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a gentle simmer. Then skim any "scum" or impurities that rise in a foam to the top. Add the remaining ingredients, except the lemon and koftaki, cover with a lid. Then simmer for 2 & 1/2 - 3 hours.
2. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Remove the meat from the bones and shred or chunk into bite sized pieces. Set aside the chicken meat aside and discard the bones. Take the stock pot off of the heat and strain the stock through a sieve (you can line with muslin if you want a really clear soup) and discard the remaining solids.
3. Clean the stock pot and then return the strained soup to the freshly cleaned pot. Bring the soup back to the boil. Add the koftaki. Reduce the heat a little and cook until pasta is al-dente. Add the chicken pieces and stir through, simmer for 2-3 minutes more. Serve immediately, seasoning with lemon juice and black pepper to taste.