Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ain't Nothin' Like Homemade Chicken Soup

This has been a pretty challenging week for me. I just started a new job, my classes are ramping up, and to top it all of, I'm getting sick. It was during my new-hire orientation on Tuesday that I started to get that familiar tickle in my throat. The following day I had sinus headaches and a sore throat. I've been battling it with loads of tea, juice, and all the Vitamin C I can handle. So far it hasn't gone "full cold," so I'm determined to get rid of this thing before I go back to work next week!

My awesome husband offered to make me some chicken soup - it's one of my favorite things, so how could I refuse? Over the years we've worked hard at perfecting our soup. Back in the day, we'd just throw a whole chicken in a pot of water with vegetables and spices, and let it boil for a few hours; but in recent years, the process has gotten more sophisticated. If you have a day where you're just at home doing "house things," this is the best dinner to make! And it makes your house smell amazing!

  • Chicken*
  • 2 Onions, quartered
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves, whole
  • Fresh Herbs**
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Water
  • Chicken Hearts and Gizzards (if not using a whole chicken)
  • 3-4 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 Celery Stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 Bunch of Parsley, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz. Tomato Sauce***
  • 1/2 lb Small Pasta****
  • Grated Pecorino Romano*****

Rinse off your chicken, and place it in a baking dish. We found a super good price on a big pack of drumsticks, so that's what we used. Arrange the quarters of one onion, all of the garlic cloves, and the herbs around the chicken. If you're doing a whole chicken, put the onion, garlic, and herbs inside the cavity. Spray or drizzle everything with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the baking dish in a 450° oven and roast for an hour.

After the hour, remove your baking dish from the oven. Place all of the goodness from the dish into a large stock pot. If you have one of those stock pots that has a strainer you can put inside, use that! Throw in your chicken hearts/gizzards, second onion, carrots, celery, parsley, tomato sauce, and some more salt and pepper. Cover it with water until everything is swimming. You don't need to fill it to the tippy-top of the pot, but make sure everything is covered. Turn that bad-boy on, and get it to a boil. Once it boils, give it a stir, cover it, and turn it to a low simmer.

After an hour or so, taste your soup - does it need more salt? Pepper? You can always add more spice to your bowl of soup, but it's really not as good as getting it spot-on when you're cooking it.

It might be good after an hour or two, but you really want to let it go for a long time. I find that when you give it 4-5 hours of simmering it really pays off. When I do turkey soup after Thanksgiving, I'll let it go for a super long-ass time.

Once your soup is done, remove the strainer that is full of the soup makings. We usually put it in a bowl because some people enjoy picking at the pieces of chicken and veg and adding it to their bowl of soup. Now that you have a pretty strained soup, you can add some cooked pasta if you like and start serving, or you can strain it again through something finer. I like to have a really clean broth with just pasta and some cheese on top. Some folks like it chunky and don't mind a broth with some herbs and bits in it. It's all up to you and how you dig your soup.

SPECIAL NOTE: As you let your soup cool down, you'll notice oil surface at the top. I do urge you to do your best and spoon off as much oil as you can. If you eat a bunch of oil, you can end up with the trots like nobody's business. Sometimes I make the soup a day or so ahead of time, so when I take the soup out of the fridge the oil has solidified and is really easy to remove.


*Get your chicken in any form you like. We often buy whole chickens when they are on sale, but they can be expensive. You can also buy a bunch of drumsticks, thighs, breasts, etc. I recommend something with bones, but again, whatever is on sale.

**Any fresh herbs that you enjoy will be good with this. I tend to use Rosemary, but I'll use the "Poultry Herbs" package if it's available and also on the cheap.

***This is optional - my dad always put a can of tomato sauce in his soups, so it tastes like home to me. I recommend it, but it's not necessary.

****Pasta is optional, but I enjoy my soup as a broth with just pasta in it. Again, it's what taste like home to me. Not to be a total advertisement here, but Barilla has recently come out with all sorts of "mini" pastas that are perfect for soups. My favorite are the tiny stars!

*****In my family, we top pretty much ever dish with cheese. Yep, even our soups.

1 comment:

  1. I love it when I learn something new from my daughter! I'm going to bake my chicken first the next time I make soup.