Fenland Celery, chicken and ginger broth
A simple, bright-flavoured soup for when you want something comforting yet uplifting. It’s vaguely Southeast Asian in a non-specific way. The ribbons of celery retain their flavour and crunch, even when cooked.
Serves: 4 – 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
• 1 head of Fenland celery
• 6cm piece of fresh ginger, about as wide as a big thumb, peeled
• 1 bunch of spring onions, peeled and thinly sliced
• 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
• A pinch of dried chilli flakes
• 1 litre fresh chicken stock
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 skinless free-range chicken breasts
• Juice of 1 big lime, plus extra to taste
• 2 – 3 tbsp fish sauce, depending on the brand, plus extra to taste
• 4 handfuls fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
• 1 medium red chilli, finely sliced
What to do:
Remove the outer stems of the celery and keep for stock. Put the leaves to one side. Cut the inner stalks lengthways into wafer thin shreds, each about 6 – 8cm long.
Finely grate half the ginger so it turns into a purée. Cut the remaining ginger into wafer thin discs, then slice across into fine shreds.
Put a handful of the spring onions to one side, then put the rest in a saucepan with the ginger, garlic, dried chilli and shredded celery (but not the leaves). Add the chicken stock and 250ml water, season with pepper and ½ tsp salt and bring to a simmer.
Slip the chicken breasts into the hot liquid and cook at the lowest possible heat, simmer for 15 minutes, until the meat is just cooked through. Remove the chicken and put to one side.
Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer again and leave it to bubble gently for another 15 minutes, or until the celery is soft.
Tear the chicken breast into thin strips and, when the broth is done, stir into the soup. Leave it to warm through for a minute, then add the lime juice, fish sauce and three quarters of the coriander leaves.
Turn off the heat, check the seasoning and let things stand for 5 minutes, for the flavours to get to know each other.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the celery leaves and remaining coriander, fresh chilli and remaining spring onions. Add more fish sauce and lime juice to taste.