The working leek

[Recipe 1] CHICKEN, LEEK and CORN SOUP transforms into
I’m feeling knackered after a month of school holidays. A big bowl of Chicken, leek and corn soup always hits the spot. With these recipes, you’ll end up with enough soup to serve 8, and a lovely Chicken and leek pot pie, made from some of the cooked vegetables and chicken reserved from your soup preparation (look for the orange diamonds within the recipe).
The soup is extra good with home-made stock, if you have the time and inclination; but a good-quality store-bought stock is absolutely fine too. I used to make stock regularly, but my last horrific attempt is still indelibly etched in my brain. My mum offered to babysit my (then) newborn son while I had some ‘time to myself’. I decided, instead of op-shopping, reading or napping, that I would use my time for good instead of evil; and set about making a massive pot of chicken stock. It simmered for over 2 hours, filling the house with heady chickeny aromas. I placed a colander in the sink and proceeded to strain the beautiful lovingly-made liquid; not into a giant pot; but straight down the sink. As if it was manky pasta water. I didn’t exactly cry, but gosh did sleep-deprived me lament those wasted two hours.

Chicken, leek and corn soup

[Recipe 1] Chicken, leek and corn soup

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals):
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 celery sticks, halved lengthwise, finely sliced
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, finely sliced
6 chicken breast fillets (about 1½ kilos/3 lb), chopped; or a mixture of breast/thigh
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 4 large cobs/ears)
2 bay leaves
10 cups (2½ litres/85 fl oz) chicken stock, home-made or good quality store-bought
1 bunch bok choy (or ½ bunch silverbeet), green parts mostly, very finely chopped or shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried fried shallots to garnish (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the leek, garlic, celery and carrots over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until leeks are soft. Transfer this vegetable mixture to a very large bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same pan, and gently fry the chicken for 6–8 minutes, until just cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pan with a slotted spoon (leave juices in the pan) and add to the vegetable mixture.
Reserve half this vegetable and chicken mixture, about 6 cups (1¼ kilos), for the chicken and leek pot pie.
Return the remaining vegetable and chicken mixture (for the soup) to the large saucepan. Add the corn kernels, bay leaves and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.
Using a stick blender, give the soup four or five whizzes only, to help it thicken. Don’t blend it completely smooth – be sure to leave lots of chunks for texture.
Add the bok choy and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Ladle soup into deep bowls, scatter with dried fried shallots, and serve with crusty bread.

  • There is admittedly a lot of chopping required for this recipe, but remember, the end result is 3 meals for 4 people: 2 huge quantities of soup (each to serve 4–5 people) and 1 lovely pie! There is no need to prepare all the vegies and chicken before you start. Chop up the leek, garlic, celery and carrot first. You can chop up the chicken while these vegies are cooking. Remove the kernels from the corn while the chicken is cooking; and chop your bok choy while the soup is simmering.
  • Reserved leek, garlic, celery, carrot and chicken mixture can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months, so you can make the pie another time. There is nothing better than having a ready-made pie filling sitting in one’s freezer, for whipping out on a weeknight.
  • The chicken, leek and corn soup will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days (excellent to take to work for lunch), or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. This soup is also the perfect meal to give to a sick friend or new parents.
  • Pre-prepared thin egg noodles can be added to individual bowls before pouring in the soup. You’ll need about 200g (7 oz) noodles for four people. Soup should be frozen separately though (without noodles).
  • Fussy kid tip: The soup can be puréed completely smooth for fussy children.
  • Baby tip: Purée a cup of cooked chicken and vegetables with a small amount of stock for a delicious mash for babies. Freeze in ice-cube trays and defrost when required.

Chicken and leek pot pie

[Recipe 2] Chicken and leek pot pie

Ingredients (serves 4–5):
6 cups (1¼ kilos) reserved leek, garlic, celery, carrot and chicken mixture

½ cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1½ teaspoons dried tarragon (or thyme)
100ml (3½ fl oz) milk
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I use light cooking cream)
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sheets store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon milk, for brushing pastry

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Grease a 24cm (9½-inch) 6-cup (1½ litres) capacity ovenproof pie dish.
Place vegetable and chicken mixture in a large saucepan, and warm gently. Add flour and tarragon; and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Gradually stir in milk and cream. Cook, stirring, over a low heat, until mixture boils and thickens, about 5–6 minutes. Stir in mustard. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Place the pie dish upside down, on the pastry (cut 1 piece of pastry in half and add these pieces to the edges of the first sheet, with water to seal, to make a large sheet). Use the dish as a guide to cut a circle of pastry to fit, about 2cm bigger than the dish.
Spoon the chicken mixture into the pie dish. Place a pie funnel (if you have one) into the centre of the dish. Cut a cross in the centre of the pastry disc for the pie funnel (or prick pastry with a fork 2 or 3 times if you don’t have a pie funnel). Drape puff pastry circle over filling. Tuck overhanging pastry underneath to form a thick pastry edge. Press the edges to seal with your fingertips. Brush pastry with egg.
Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and light golden brown. Serve with steamed green beans and peas, or a green salad.

  • Fussy kid tip: My 4-year old loves this pie, but only if I omit the tarragon (or thyme) from his portion. I stir up his chicken filling in a separate little saucepan. Oh, the things we do.

6 thoughts on “The working leek

  1. Pingback: 10 Soul Warming Soups For A Cold Winter’s Day « Profiteroles & Ponytails

  2. I made this!! We all loved it. Your right there was a lot of chopping but it was so worth it. The pie was so good and so was the soup.There was enough soup for 3 meals for my family!!!Thanks for sharing. I didn’t use the tarragon or thyme. My daughter perfers plain things.It was still very yummy.

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