Currently, I have sworn off Costco. It’s a dangerous place, where buying too much of things you don’t really need is the norm. Word on the street is that they’re already celebrating Christmas and I’m just warming up to the idea of Halloween.
Our Costco is all of twenty minutes away but we act like it’s a trek crossing state lines. Friends will call and say, “I’m heading out to Costco, need anything?” like we are all pioneers and they’re taking the monthly journey into town for supplies.
This week, it was Katie calling— did I need anything? My mind started scattering- five pounds of Manchego? Fifty-piece set of Snapware? I settled on checking to see if they had whole organic chickens, they don’t always have them in stock.
An hour later the birds (you get two at Costco, of course) were on my doorstep. Since I’m not hosting dinner for my entire block, one goes in the freezer and the other was the starting point for this delicious pot-au-feu.
Normally, you make pot-au-feu (don’t ask me to pronounce it, I can barely spell it) with cheap cuts of beef, but I love to make it with a whole chicken. It’s one of my favorite Sunday meals—I can kickback and watch football with my family while it simmers on the stove, and then sit down to a warm, comforting meal.
This soup is easy to make, satisfying and so delicious. If you are choosing fresh, great ingredients it doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult to put together a beautiful meal.
1 whole chicken (preferably organic, about 3 pounds)
3 bay leaves
1 onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
1 tsp peppercorns
4 tablespoons salt
5 sprigs of each: parsley and thyme, divided
5-6 carrots, cleaned and sliced in 1” pieces
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced in ½” inch coins
1 pound baby Dutch potatoes, sliced in half
Wash the chicken and take out the innards that are stashed in the cavity.
Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with water plus about two-inches more. Add the onion, garlic, bay, peppercorns, salt, three sprigs of parsley two springs of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer (uncovered) and cook for one hour. Turn the bird over once during the cooking process and spoon off any scum or the fat as needed.
Once the chicken has cooked, remove it to a plate and allow to cool. Strain the broth (discarding the cooked vegetables and herbs) and return it to the stove.
Now add the carrots, leeks and potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. While the veggies cook remove the skin from the chicken and shred all the meat off the bones. You will be surprised at how much meat you will get from one little chicken.
Taste the broth for seasoning. Chop the remaining herbs to have them ready for garnish.
To serve, place some shredded chicken in the center of a shallow bowl. Ladle the broth and veggies over the chicken. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve hot. My kids like to mash the potatoes in their bowl to have a thicker soup.
Add-ins: You know I love to tinker, sometimes I’ll add in fresh chopped tomatoes, a diced fresh chile de arbol from my garden for an added kick and/or a lemon slice.
For the four of us we usually only use about 1/3 of the shredded chicken, which means I start the week armed with fresh protein for tacos, chicken salad, mac n’ cheese…you get the picture.