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Poached chicken and garden soup

Poaching a chicken is easy and provides you with a cooked bird and a delicious liquor that you can use for several meals - the cooked chicken can go to the curry, the salads or the noodle soup. This fine soup makes excellent use of the liquor and as much of the meat as you wish to add. It's flexible and will welcome whatever seasonal veg are to hand.


Season the chicken with salt and pepper, inside and out, and put the parsley stalks (save the leaves), bay leaves and thyme sprigs into the cavity. Place the chicken in a cooking pot in which it fits quite snugly and pour on enough water to just cover. Slowly bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a low simmer and put the lid on. Gently poach the chicken for about 20 minutes, skimming occasionally.

Add the celeriac and fennel and cook for a further 15 minutes, then add the cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes. To check that the chicken is cooked, insert a knife into the thickest part, where the leg joins the body. The juices should run clear and you should be able to pull the leg bone from the body easily. If not, poach for another 5 minutes and test again. When ready, add the peas and cook for a minute. Lift the chicken out of the broth onto a board and leave until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile chop the parsley leaves with a little of the leafy tops from the fennel and celeriac. Tear as much meat from the carcass as you wish to add to the broth, leaving most of the poached meat for another meal.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, dividing the veg more or less evenly. Add the chicken and sprinkle with the parsley mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. A dollop of crème fraîche spiked with a little horseradish will add a delicious bite.

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  • 1 chicken, about 1.6kg
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 5-8mm dice, leafy tops reserved
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 5-8mm dice, leafy tops reserved
  • ½ small Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • A good handful of peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve (optional)

  • 2-3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • A little finely grated horseradish

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Chicken & Eggs Handbook

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