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Spring chicken and leek soup

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Throughout the culinary history of Wilmington Delaware, the dishes have ranged between a mixture of French, German, British and Irish. The residents of Delaware set a table based on its history, the families and geography. When the chicken industry took hold of Delaware, a favorite Sunday dinner was broiled chicken with buttermilk biscuits. Other favorites are steamed shrimp, cauliflower, corn pudding, fish stew, lemon butter, steamed crabs and smoked ham.

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Chicken (the blue hen is the state symbol) is a traditional meat of choice. This recipe of spring chicken and leeks is French in style, but very much takes in the essence of Delaware culinary history. Serving four, this soup is a great warmer for the soul during cold or wintery springs.

Ingredients

5 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 bay leaves

Sprig of fresh thyme

2 dressed chickens, each weighing about 1 lb

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 lb leeks, diced

1/4 lb potatoes, diced

1/8 Tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly group black pepper

2/3 cup whipping cream

Method

1. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large cast iron post over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring until the onion is pale golden in color, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the bay leaves, thyme and chickens to the pot and pour the wine over the ingredients. Add just enough water to cover the birds (about 3 ½ cups). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer until the chickens are cooked, about 40 minutes.

3. Remove the birds from the stock and set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain the stock into a large bowl, discarding the herbs and onion.

4. Heat the remaining oil in the pot. Add the leeks and potatoes and sauté 2-3 minutes. Pour over the reserve stock and bring to a boil. Season with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Meanwhile, remove the mean from the chickens and cut up in to small pieces or strips. Add these chicken meat pieces to the soup.

6. Just before serving, stir the cream into the soup and warm through gently. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Source material: Taste of the States: A Food History of America, Hilde Gabriel Lee [Howell Press:Charlottesville VA] 1992 (p. 40)

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