In the butchers last weekend I saw some “Poussin” in the window, (or in simpler language “a spring chicken” – younger and smaller), I couldn’t help myself – I bought two, planning to roast them. A fellow food lover at work, Kurt, (who by the way introduced me to the idea of organic Australian grown garlic) was talking about lentil soup, and I decided to change my plans. I’m so glad I did, as the chicken fell off the bone in soft delicious strands after being simmered in the stock for about 45 minutes. Chicken maryland – the leg and thigh pieces you can buy pre-cut would be the perfect substitution to make this an everyday meal.
Lentils are very filling and one of the sources of carbohydrate with the lowest GI – Red lentils have a GI of around 26, and a GL of around 5. They do not cause much of a blood sugar spike at all, but they really fill you up. They also contain protein and insoluble fibre, and along with the vegetables and chicken, this recipe makes a very satisfying, warming meal in itself without needing to eat toast or other carbs with it. To get the full benefits of the insoluble fibre, you can remove the skin of the chicken to reduce the saturated fats in the stock. A low GI diet helps to lower your cholesterol because of the increase in fibre, and removing the skin only minimally alters the taste.
Serves: 4 – 6
Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes
- 2 poussin or 4 chicken maryland
- 500mL chicken stock
- 200mL dry white wine
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 leek
- 5 baby carrots or 2 large carrots
- several sticks of celery
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 teaspoons salt
- a few strands of lemon thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 strands saffron
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a heavy based stock pot to a high heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the 2 cloves of garlic crushed, and the chicken.
- Sear on a high heat. As the pan starts to go brown, deglaze by adding a small amount of stock or wine.
- When the chicken is browned on most sides, add the leek (chopped into small slices), stir, moisten with a small amount of wine, and cover the lid.
- After about 5 more minutes, when the leek has started to become soft, add stock, wine, chopped carrots, chopped celery, lentils, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and half the saffron.
- Now add water till there is about twice as much water as other content (around 2 litres or so). The chicken should be well covered, and it should be quite thin in texture, otherwise you will find yourself chewing through thick clods of lentil!
- Turn down to a gentle simmer once boiled (that is bubbling slightly, but not furiously).
- Preheat oven to 220 °C
- Simmer for 20 minutes. Half way through the simmering, if you are cooking poussin, cut the birds in half with kitchen scissors to speed up the cooking process. If you are using maryland you don’t need to do this.
- Ten minutes before ready to serve, remove the chicken from the pan and place in a baking dish, continue simmering the rest of the soup.
- Roast chicken for 10 minutes at 220 °C
- At the same time, put the 5 remaining saffron strands in a drop of olive oil with the fennel seeds in a small dish and warm in the oven for five minutes.
- Skim the soup while the seeds are warming (see picture)
- Ladle generous serves of lentil soup into the bowls and top with a piece of maryland or half a “poussin”.
- Sprinkle the fennel seeds and saffron strands over the maryland and soup
- If you are serving for 1 or 2 people, this will freeze well. Reheat in the microwave and pour into bowls.