Hanging out at the Dairy

Hanging out at the Dairy
Darci(far left) & the Wrights at the Creamery

Saturday, May 21, 2011

911 Chicken Soup

I played nurse earlier this week for my young friend/neighbor Chloe. She was home from school with an earache and aside from a strawberry frozen yogurt, chicken soup sounded pretty good to her for lunch! How can I resist a yummy 8yr old who's not feeling well?! This was going to be the BEST chicken soup ever...

How could chicken soup be elevated? Recalling a recdently read book, The Last Chinese Chef, by Nicole Moines, the Chinese Imperial chefs would use multiples of the main ingredient to intensify the flavor, roasted duck with reduced duck stock in it's sauce for instance. This was the direction to take with the broth of the nourishing soup for Chloe.

4 boxes of purchased organic chicken stock (even I don't always have time to make it:) were reduced for a half hour with 2 bay leaves, 1Tablespoon of ground Cumin, several cracks of fresh ground pepper and my SECRET INGREDIENT (a big pinch of saffron) were added to elevate the flavor! The Saffron also gives the stock a luscious, more amber hue -visual appeal is important as we "first, eat with our eyes".

To build the body of the soup, veggies and herbs sauteed together; first 1 large sweet onion,  chopped medium coarse in approximately 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Then 6 peeled carrots, chopped to preserve their round shape, 1 large Pisillo pepper, deseeded, cut in thin strips and chopped finely. The Pisillo has a mild green Chile flavor with a slight kick of heat at the finish and a gloriously dark forest green color. Also included was 1 small leek, rinsed and chopped in fine rounds and 5 stalks of celery chopped finely. Sprinkled on top were more freshly ground pepper, 1 tablespoon each granular dried garlic and dried thyme. This happy mix is stirred on high heat for about 5 minutes, to start the carmelization process to add depth of flavor to the soup while still not cooking through yet.

Into stockpot go the semi-cooked veggies and another trick, broken lasagna noodles! I broke up about 6 dried strips into about 2 inch shards but not even by any stretch. These noodles gave such tooth to the soup, reminded me of my Grandma's home made noodles and visually appealing as well! The pasta pieces and veggies were on a steady rolling boil for about 10 minutes until fork tender.

This is slightly more than a  half of a roasted chicken I had in the refrigerator. The meat pulled off the bone, checked for bones and gristle and chopped coarsely for texture. The chunked chicken was added last as it's already cooked and moist, not wanting to overcook.

All ingredients mingled about 5 minutes prior to my dishing up Chloe a bowl of comforting, amber goodness. This was a fast chicken soup to make, about 30-45 minutes, but with maximum results! It fed us and several friends that night, a bowl for my son's teacher at school and a leftover lunch the day following. My boys add Seracha hot sauce for a kickof heat.  I had purchased a crusty, whole wheat sourdough loaf from Pane d'Amore, served warmed and sliced in 3 inch rustic chunks to dunk with. YUM!!

Chloe and the rest of us felt loved and our full bellies content!
 Be well my friends!

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