Wild garlic is abundant in local woodlands. They are small ground- covering plants with broad leaves and a little cluster of white flowers during the spring, and they are often found alongside bluebells. If you come across any wild garlic when you are out and about, this recipe is a lovely way to make the best of it. This is an enriching dish full of the flavours of spring.
Homemade stock really is better made with the whole bird, so buy a whole chicken and joint it. Use the carcass and legs for this recipe and freeze the breasts (or use them in the Charred Chicken and Squash Salad on page 104). To make the soup more substantial, cook 200g dried rice noodles and put them in the bowl before adding the soup, if you like.
3 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for roasting
1 large chicken, jointed (you can ask your butcher to do this) and breasts reserved for another recipe
3 celery sticks, roughly diced
1 onion, roughly diced
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 large garlic bulb, cloves peeled
100g wild garlic leaves, roughly sliced (keep the flowers if you have them)
4 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
a small handful of mint leaves, ripped
a small handful of coriander leaves, ripped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan oven) gas mark 7. Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a high heat and add the chicken legs, skin side down, along with the wings and the carcass (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan). Fry over a very high heat, to brown all over. Transfer to a roasting tin and coat in a little more oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 15–18 minutes until a deep golden brown.
Add the vegetables to the same pan (there should still be some oil in there) and put it back over a medium heat. Sweat the veg for 2 minutes or until starting to soften but not colour.
Once roasted, return the chicken to the pan and pour over 2 litres cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1½ hours. Strain the soup and return the broth to the pan. Take the chicken from the sieve, remove the skin and shred the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Leave the meat to one side.
Divide the wild garlic among serving bowls and top with the spring onions. Divide the shredded chicken between the bowls and add the herbs.
Taste the broth and check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle it over the chicken and greens in the bowl, and sprinkle over the garlic flowers, if you have them.
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