Chicken soup is a huge favorite with millions and is often credited with health giving options in the sense that it at least makes us feel better when we are sick. While chicken soup in the simplest of forms knows an undoubted and wonderful appeal due to being so warming and delicious, by changing the recipe even slightly, it is possible to come up with whole new ways of enjoying this once simple dish. This recipe quite literally came about simply by raiding the fridge and finding what vegetables required to be used in a timely fashion if they were not otherwise to spoil. This is often a great way of coming up with new recipe ideas of many different types, as well as cutting down on waste and your family's food bill. 

Chicken, Cabbage and Potato Soup with Bread
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Spicy chicken, cabbage and potato soup with fresh crusty bread

The soup in this instance was made over two days. The stock was made on day one and chilled in the fridge overnight ready to start the soup proper the following evening. The recipe instructions are accordingly arranged in these two distinct parts.

Ingredients (Stock)

Stock Vegetables
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Vegetable ingredients for making spicy chicken stock

  • 1 small to medium, ready to cook whole chicken of around 3 pounds in weight
  • 1 large, medium strength red chili
  • 1 large, medium strength green chili
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Cold water as required (minimum five pints)

Directions (Stock)

Chicken and Veg for Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken, vegetables and seasonings for stock

Sit the chicken in a large soup or stock pot. Peel the onion and roughly slice. Peel the garlic cloves and roughly chop. Cut the tops from the chilies and discard before roughly chopping the main bodies. Add the onion, garlic and chilies to the pot with the chicken along with the salt and peppercorns. Measure out and pour in enough water to ensure the chicken is fully covered, remembering to ensure you have a minimum of five pints. This is to ensure you have enough finished stock with which to prepare the soup proper.

Put the pot on to a high heat until the water approaches boiling point. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer as gently as possible for forty-five minutes. After this time, simply turn off the heat and leave the pot to cool for a minimum two hours. The chicken will complete cooking to perfection in the residual heat. 

Poached Chicken
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Poached whole chicken

When the water has cooled, carefully lift the chicken from the pot to a deep plate. Don't worry if it starts to break up - such as a leg falling off - as you are going to be breaking it up soon anyway.

Chicken Portions
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken separated in to portions

You should easily be able to pull the whole leg portions and the breast fillets from the chicken carcass. It is only the legs (thighs and drumsticks) which are going to be used in the soup. The breast fillets, wings and meat from the general body of the chicken can be used for any alternative purpose you wish.

Straining Chicken Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken stock is carefully strained

Use a large slotted spoon to remove and discard the vegetable pieces from the stock pot. Suspend a fine sieve over a large bowl and line it with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper. Strain the stock through the sieve. You may need to change the kitchen paper at some stage if it becomes clogged with fat.

Strained Chicken Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

When the stock is strained, it can either be used immediately or covered and stored in the fridge overnight.

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Ingredients (Soup) - Serves 6 to 8

Baby New Potatoes
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Baby new potatoes

  • 4 pints fresh chicken stock prepared earlier
  • 6 baby new potatoes (around one and a half inches diameter)
  • 3 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 large, medium strength red chili
  • 1 large, medium strength green chili
  • Meat from chicken leg portions
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions (Soup)

Chopped Potatoes
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Wash and if necessary scrub the potatoes. Cut out any small "eyes" but otherwise leave them unpeeled. Chop each one in to 4 to 6 even sized pieces. 

Potatoes added to Chicken Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Potatoes are added to chicken stock

Pour the chicken stock in to your clean soup pot. Add the potato pieces. Bring the stock to a simmer for fifteen initial minutes.

Cabbage Leaves
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Savoy cabbage leaves

Wash the cabbage leaves and cut out any tough central cores and discard. Roll each leaf and slice moderately finely across the way to shred.

Cut the top piece of stalk from the chilies and finely slice in to discs.

Cabbage and Chilies added to Soup
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cabbage and chilies added to soup

Add the cabbage and chilies to the soup. Stir well and bring back to a simmer for ten more minutes.

Chicken Leg and Thigh Meat
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken drumstick and thigh meat removed from bones

Peel the skin from the chicken leg portions and pluck the meat from the bones in small, bite sized pieces. Discard the skin and bones.

Chicken and Cilantro added to Soup
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken and cilantro are added to soup

Add the chicken pieces and the chopped cilantro to the soup and stir well. Continue to simmer for a final two or three minutes just to ensure the chicken pieces are heated through and to allow the cilantro to impart its flavor.

Spicy Chicken, Cabbage and Potato Soup
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Spicy chicken, cabbage and potato soup is served

Taste the soup, adjust the seasoning as may be required with salt and pepper and ladle in to bowls to serve, ideally with some ultra fresh, crusty bread. Alternatively, the soup (or some of it) could be allowed to cool before being stored in your refrigerator for up to three days or your deep freeze in a suitable container for up to three months.