Croutons: The fun thing about making your own croutons is choosing which bread to use. Day-old baguettes, English muffins, sandwich bread, even pita all make tasty options. Croutons can be made up to two days ahead if stored in an airtight container.
• 2 chicken marylands (550g)
• 1kg fresh vegetable soup pack, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
• 35g packet French onion simmer soup mix
• ½ x 35cm French breadstick, cut into 2cm pieces
• 2 tblsps basil pesto
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat an oiled stockpot over a high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Remove.
Add soup vegetables to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Return chicken to the pot with simmer soup mix and 7 cups water.
Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until chicken is falling off the bone. Remove chicken and cool slightly. Discard skin and bones. Shred meat. Return to pot. Stir over a low heat until hot. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile to make croutons, toss bread with pesto in a bowl. Arrange in a single layer on an oiled oven tray. Cook in a moderate oven (180°C) for about 10 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until golden and crisp.
Serve soup with pesto croutons and ground black pepper, if desired.