Courgette, Leek and Potato Soup with Chicken

Many of my soups have an element of fridge tidy to them, often laced with over shopping. That was the case here; a lone leek, couple of huge courgettes, remains of a bunch of thyme and single chicken thigh fillet. With a scrounged potato, peas from the freezer and chicken stock (made with a cube), it turned into one of those thick, luscious soups that cry out for some crusty bread or garlic bread to dip and slurp. Leeks, incidentally, are very good in pureed soups, giving a silky, creamy texture.

As I was making the soup for lunch with my girlfriends (The Blondes, as we satirically call ourselves), I roasted a couple of Romana red peppers and the last of my cherry tomatoes to make a startling garnish. With a spoonful of lemony crème fraiche and grating of halloumi (all optional extras), it went down very well and was all the better for being made one day and enjoyed the next.

Serves 6
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 45 min

650g courgettes
1 onion
25g butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100g trimmed leek
few sprigs thyme
1 chicken thigh fillet
1 large-ish potato
150g frozen petits pois
2 chicken stock cubes
1 small lemon

Trim and grate the courgette on the large hole of a cheese grater/food processor attachment. Place in a colander, dust with 1 tbsp salt, toss and leave to drain. Meanwhile, halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in the oil in a spacious pan over a medium-low heat. Stir in the onion. Add a generous pinch salt, stir and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until beginning to soften and colour slightly. Meanwhile, split the leek lengthways and slice across to make slim slices. Rinse and shake dry. Peel and dice the potato into dolly mixture size pieces. Do the same with the chicken. Stir leek and thyme leaves stripped from the stalks into the softening onion. Cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes then stir in the chicken. Toss around until evenly coloured and beginning to cook through. While that’s happening, rinse the courgette and shake dry. Stir the courgette into the leek, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Boil the kettle, measure 1 litre water into a jug. Add crumbled stock cubes, stirring to dissolve. Add the stock, return to simmer, add the potato, partially cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peas and cook for a further 5 minutes or until potatoes and peas are tender. Liquidize in batches, season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.