Cloves and saffron add a rich, heady note and a satisfying bittersweet edge to the slow-cooked carrots and onion. But you don't need them. There are as many versions of chicken soup as there are cooks who make it, so adapt it to your own taste. Just make sure your chicken is on the bone, and include as many fragrant herbs and root veg as you can get your hands on.
Niki Segnit suggests, in her wonderful Flavour Thesaurus, adding chicken's feet to give the finished soup 'a pleasantly gelatinous texture'. Go for it, if you have a Chinese supermarket nearby.
- 1 chicken, cut into portions
- 1 large onion, studded with 6 cloves
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- Bouquet garni of 1 whole bunch of celery tops, bay leaf, and a bunch of parsley
- Pinch of saffron
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 500g cooked noodles
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
- Toasted slivered almonds (optional)
Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. Remove the surface fat and bouquet garni, and boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the chilli, if using.
Remove the meat from the cooled chicken pieces, shred, and return to the pan. Warm through, and serve in generous bowls with piping hot noodles, and scatter with toasted almonds and freshly chopped parsley.