This is the perfect comfort soup, and it hits the spot on any occasion — after overindulging during the holidays, for example, or just when you feel like a clean, simple dinner with a few close friends. We like to squeeze in a fresh lemon wedge right before eating to brighten the flavor.
Poached Chicken Soup with Lemon and Spinach
1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 lb.
1-inch piece fresh ginger, plus 2-inch piece, finely julienned, for garnish (optional)
1 onion, unpeeled, root end removed and halved
2 celery stalks, quartered
2 large carrots, quartered
Handful of stems of fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 small bay leaf
1 cup baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
6-8 lemon wedges
2 Tbs. Sriracha chile garlic sauce
Place chicken in a large stockpot. Add 1-inch piece of ginger, onion, celery, carrots, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf and 1 tsp. salt. Fill pot with cold water to cover all ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer, occasionally skimming any foam from surface, until juices run clean when you pierce thickest part of thigh, 1 1/2 hours.
Remove chicken from pot and transfer to a plate. Let cool. Using a colander, strain stock, discarding solids. Line a fine-mesh sieve with two layers of cheesecloth. Strain stock through sieve to remove fat. Rinse pot and return strained stock to it.
Once chicken is cool enough to handle, use your fingers to remove and shred meat, discarding skin and bones. Add shredded meat to pot with stock and pour in any juices that have collected on plate. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil, add spinach and stir just until wilted.
Turn off heat. Ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with julienned ginger (if using). Serve at once with lemon wedges and Sriracha sauce. Serves 6-8.