This a sensational full-flavored winter soup, in which the leeks and apples accentuate and bring into focus the chicken. It is especially tasty if you just came in from the cold :D.
- 1.5 lb chicken (I used thighs, feel free to use any parts you like)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 leeks (including 1 inch of green), cut in half lengthwise, washed and finely sliced
- 2 Granny Smith apples (can be replaced with Golden Delicious or any tart baking apples), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 tbsp Calvados (optional) - it's a brandy made by distilling hard cider and aging it in oak casks
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saute pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for about 8 minutes over medium heat. Turn the chicken and lightly saute in the same way for 5 more minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and place it in a bowl. If the butter in the saute pan has burned, pour it out and replace with 2 tbsp fresh butter. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir the leeks every couple of minutes, as they should soften but not brown.
Put the chicken back in the pan with the leeks. Add the apples, apple juice, vinegar and broth. Bring the liquids to a slow simmer and with a ladle skim off any fat ot froth that floats to the top. Cover the pot and simmer the chicken very gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is completely cooked.
Remove the chicken and let it cool. Remove and discard the skin and pull the meat away from the bones. Cut the meat into 1/2-inch chunks.
Use a ladle to skim off any fat that has formed on the surface of the liquid in the pot. Add the Calvados (if using - the soup is still wonderful without it) and the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat the chunks of chicken in the soup for 2 minutes and serve immediately in hot bowls.