WEST AFRICAN CHICKEN SOUP WITH BANANAS, COCONUT MILK AND CURRY (for six)
For the stock:
one 3 pound chicken (uncooked)
3-1/2 quarts water
2 medium onions, 1 unpeeled and quartered, 1 thinly sliced
4 carrots, 2 coarsely chopped, 2 sliced ¼ inch thick
4 celery ribs, 2 coarsely chopped, 2 sliced ¼ inch thick
1 large unpeeled garlic clove, smashed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 large fresh bay leaf
6 parsley sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
For the soup:
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tomatoes, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 green banana, peeled and cut into ¾ inch pieces
reserved chicken meat
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. In a stockpot, combine the chicken with the water, quartered onion, coarsely chopped carrots and celery, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley sprigs and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Discard the skin. After it has cooled, pull the meat off the bones, cut it into ½ inch pieces and refrigerate.
2. Return the bones to the pot, partially cover and simmer for at least1 hour, until the broth is richly flavored. Strain the broth into a clean heat-proof bowl and rinse out the pot. Return the broth to the pot and boil over moderate heat until reduced to 8 cups, about 30 minutes. Season with salt.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the sliced onion, ginger, tomatoes, curry powder and tomato paste and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the broth, coconut milk, sliced carrots, sliced celery and banana and bring to a boil. Season with salt and cook over moderate heat until the banana is very tender, about 30 minutes. Add the chopped chicken and cilantro and simmer until just heated through. Ladle into bowls and serve.
- If you want to make this with previously cooked chicken: Remove and discard the skin from the cooked bird, pull the meat from the bones and shred it. Cover and refrigerate the meat until you are ready to finish the soup. Place the chicken carcass and bones into a stockpot, along with the water, quartered onion, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley sprigs and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Proceed with step 2.
- If your leftover chicken carcass doesn’t have enough meat on it to finish the soup: Buy 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts from your grocery, salt them and add them to the strained stock after you’ve brought it back to a boil in step 2. Reduce the heat to medium and poach the chicken until the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate to cool, then shred it. Proceed with step 3.
adapted from Grace Parisi, Food and Wine Magazine, December, 2008