Sunday, November 22

Chicken Soup

Today's note... Chicken Soup. The famed feel good treat when you are not feeling well. Well, I wasn't feeling well, but more importantly, my friends were sick so I decided to make them some soup. Folks get intimidated I think, but there's really no need. I'm a boy and I can make it... so can you. I like things a little spicy (helps clear the congestion) so bare that in mind should you make this yourself. Also, the "magic" of chicken soup is the fat/oil from the chicken. It's important so don't be too healthy freaky to omit it.

I have never written down a recipe before--I typically just wing it. I'll do my best to out line the ingredients. If you make soup with things that you like, then ultimately, the outcome should be good. Above are some of the fresh ingredients. Yes, Coke-Cola makes me feel good, so ... there it is. Other ingredients are cilantro, celery, carrots, onions, pasta, broth/stock, hominy, pasta (i use tiny stars). This is definitely hearty and stew like. Oh! Chicken, of course, corn, green beans, peas, and diced tomatoes, garlic....
Chicken: 2 breasts, 4 legs-all with skins. I boil them in water for about 30 minutes, until tender. No longer, else they get tough. Meanwhile, I pour a little olive oil in a nice big pot. Use the biggest pot you me. My pot never seems to be big enough. Olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and some butter. Add the diced sweet onion, cook til transparent. Throw in some diced carrots-try to keep the pieces of carrots all the same size so they cook evenly. Add in lots of chopped garlic. The more the better. Stir. Just prior to the garlic changing color/browning (once this begins, it happens very quickly), add in the can of diced tomatoes & chilies. I also through in 3 red chili peppers that I had drying from the summer. I removed the seeds, but left them whole for easy removal later. As needed, I add water and chicken stock. More water at the beginning, and more broth/stock at the end. Chop some celery. Check on the boiling chicken. I add some salt and pepper and garlic (and other desired herbs) while it's boiling to insure that it doesn't taste bland at the end. Back to the soup, toss in the Celery, Cilantro and some Hominy. Simmer on medium heat. Add some more liquid. Taste for flavor. Add Salt, a little Cayenne pepper, White Pepper, Herbs to taste. Adding it all at the beginning helps the flavors swirl throughout the soup... melding everything together.

Now, pick the chicken from the boiling water and put on a plate. Keep that water boiling cuz you're going to throw the bones back in for a couple hours. This is how you make stock. You may add more herbs or garlic or onion to this liquid while it boils and reduces... Yes, you can skip this step, but it's in boiling the bones that you get all the minerals and richness in taste. While that's boiling, go back to the soup and add in some frozen Peas, Corn, and Green Beans. Give that a stir. Turn the heat down. Add the deboned & defatted/deskinned chicken and wait for the stock. When the stock is ready, strain out all the bones and remaining fat...all you want is the liquid. Bring it back up to a boil and add the pasta. I like to do this because the starches from the pasta help thicken the stock. When the pasta is ready, gently pour into your soup. Stir a few times. I like to add a little more cilantro at that end for added fragrance. and brightness. I added more Hominy at the end because it got just a little too spicy. The flavors mellowed, blended well.... my friends were both surprised and delighted that I thought of them. Definitely a feel good moment. Bon appetite. Just give it a try.