Comedian Matt Lucas is a keen chicken soup-maker and always happy to share his kitchen secrets. Some of them may raise a few eyebrows though.
The self-confessed soup specialist has already shared his know-how with food professional Dame Prue Leith, teaching her how to make proper Jewish penicillin during lockdown.
Since then he has also shared his recipe in great detail on podcasts Off Menu and Table Manners. Most recently, in a January episode of BBC television’s Saturday Kitchen, he talked professional chef and tv presenter Matt Tebbutt through the process.
While Tebbut cooked up a bowl of golden broth for the Wonka star — as his chosen ‘food heaven’ — Lucas admitted he loves the stuff so much he makes it in almost industrial quantities:
“I bought a 32-litre pot so I can make about 30 portions. I have a freezer just for my chicken soup at home. That gets me through the winter.”
His recipe seems pretty standard: Boiler fowl (Tick). Parsnips, carrots, leeks, onions, spring onions, and celery (Tick). Never garlic! (Tick, tick, tick)
Interestingly, he always discards the first pot of water — the one filled with that foamy residue you get on the first boil — and starts again with fresh water for a clear stock.
It was his seasoning that may raise a few eyebrows: “A little bit of soy sauce adds flavour You can add a little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt – some people put dill, which I don’t, but I don’t dislike it.” Soy sauce — totally get it for a slug of umami, but sugar?
And, like many a Jewish mother, Lucas admits he isn’t too proud to pep up the flavour: “I do sometimes cheat and add a little bit of powdered stock to it as well just to help the flavour. A chicken powder.”
The broth is then simmered slowly for around six hours. To ensure it stays crystal clear, he has a special trick. “I use these things called ‘soup socks’ where you put them in a kind of net – like a pair of tights and tie the net up. That keeps the broth clear and stops all the stewed vegetables from spreading around. And then, when I’m having the soup, I boil up fresh vegetables so I’m not eating the vegetables that have absorbed all the fat and I’m eating good crisp vegetables. Just for my health, to make it less fatty.”
The 36-hour process is completed after an overnight spell in the fridge, a skim of the schmaltz and it’s good to go.
But is he a team lockshen or more of a matzah ball maven? It’s kneidlach all the way: “I like my matzah balls quite firm” he told Tebbutt.
The end result of all his efforts? In his words: “Delish delosh.”
Find the JC’s best chicken soup recipe here.