While in Tanzania, I visited last years winner of Oxfam’s Female Food Heroes competition: an Africa-wide search to celebrate female farmers and food producers who were making a difference to their lives and communities. (I’ll write more about Sister Martha separately).
While we were at her house, I are very little, having spent the night before being horrendously ill. She shook her head at the state of me, and spooned out a small bowl of clear broth, and two chicken legs, and handed it to me. “Soupo,” she said.
“Soupo” turned out to be exactly what I needed, full- flavoured and slightly salty with meltingly-soft chicken falling from the bones. I devoured it, and seconds, and asked her what was in it. Sister Martha laughed. “Kuku.” “What else?” “No. Just Kuku.”
Just chicken, slowly stewed in its own juices – I jotted down a reminder to myself to make some when I got home. And tonight, still very unwell and with the typical empty fridge of the returned traveller, I dug out a packet of chicken from the freezer, defrosted it, and made myself “just Kuku.”
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Ingredients: Serves two.
4 pieces of chicken on the bone
300ml water
A pinch of salt
Place the chicken in a saucepan or frying pan on a medium heat. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes on each side to seal.
Pour over the water and turn up the heat to bring to the boil. Boil for a few minutes, then transfer the chicken and liquid to the slow cooker on a high heat, and cover. If you don’t have a slow cooker, simply turn the heat down to low and cover the pan, but be aware that it has a long cooking time.
Simmer gently for 3 hours, or longer , until the broth is golden and the chicken very tender.
For a clearer broth, strain the liquid before serving and add the chicken back into the bowls.
Serve on its own, or with bread, or with a shake of lemon and black pepper.
You can adapt this soup to taste; I recommend frying two sliced garlic cloves and a finely chopped onion with the chicken in the first stage for a heady, sweet soup with extra antioxidants – maybe garnish with a little coriander or parsley if you have any to hand. Use it as a simple, foolproof base and adapt it to suit your tastes.
On a night like tonight, “just Kuku” is exactly what I need.
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe