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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Who knew Chicken Soup could be this simple...and this good!

 
Roast Chicken gone wrong.
About a week ago, I had the Roast Chicken urge.  You know the one where you imagine a perfect roast chicken, brilliantly browned and crisp, with melt-in-your-mouth tender white and dark meat?  Well I duly went out and bought quite an expensive Free-Range bird.  I believe that when it comes to Roast Chicken, simpler is better.   Somehow, on my way to retrieve Marcella Hazan’s super simple Roast Chicken – with two lemons and salt and pepper and that’s it—I was waylaid by an even simpler recipe.  This one eliminated the lemons. And miraculously, it cooked even faster than Marcella’s, which was likely the deciding factor. Then too, its author is a-famous-chef-who-shall-remain-nameless to protect the guilty.  Now this doesn’t happen often in our house but I was not at all happy about how "cooked" the 50-minute chicken was.  So I abandoned almost the whole bird and stuck it in the freezer.  Over the weekend, as winter bore down and it was once again freezing here, I decided to make Chicken Soup with my partially cooked roast chicken.  I imagined a long afternoon of soup making.  That turned out to be a complete overestimate. The chicken soup I made, full of chicken flavor, with onions, carrots and celery submerged in a heavenly broth, was everything I’d hoped.  Astonishingly, it was made with just 7 ingredients and start to finish took all of an hour and ten minutes to make. 
      
Martha, of course, raises her own chickens.
My chicken soup recipe came from Martha Stewart. Now lord knows Martha is well-known for doing everything right. But not without effort. I once marveled at a piece she had written about catering a party where she’d peeled something like 1800 potatoes.  But her Basic Chicken Soup recipe is a snap.  (She has 23 Chicken Soup recipes on her website, if you feel inclined to spend longer making your soup).  What’s particularly delightful is something Martha acknowledged in the preface to her recipe: that everyone will put a personal spin on this recipe.   You get all the classic goodness of a soup often called “Jewish Penicillin” for its well known role in healing whatever ails you—a rich broth that the chicken and the vegetables make all by themselves.  My personal spin was to add handfuls of baby spinach and a cup of store-bought Perline Pasta and Prosciutto.  This partially cooked pasta was added to the boiling soup for all of 3 minutes.  It added another dimension in texture and was a perfect counterpoint to the chicken in the soup.  I am sure there are all kinds of add-ons you could use to make this soup your own.  Leftover Rice, Noodles, Orzo, Ditalini could all be added to the mix.  We got our carbs from a loaf of Eric Kayser’s bread. I made this soup just for the two of us.  I now have a freezer full of the basic soup that I can defrost and add different ingredients anytime we crave a really great bowl of soup.  It really is a wonderful one dish meal.  Here is the recipe:



Recipe for Martha Stewart’s Basic Chicken Soup

Makes 6 servings.  Takes a little over an hour to make.  


1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut into pieces (including back)

8 cups water

Coarse salt

3 medium onions, thinly sliced (4 cups)
2 celery stalks, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, crushed
6 medium carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick


1. Bring chicken, water, and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large stockpot. Skim foam. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

2. Remove breasts, and set aside. Add carrots. Simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

Remove remaining chicken; discard back and wings. Let cool slightly. Remove meat from bones, and cut into bite-size pieces.

3. Stir in desired amount of chicken, bring to a boil then add any additions you would like to make—pasta, noodles, semi-cooked Tortolini—and cook until addition is cooked.  Add spinach or greens and when they have started to wilt, remove from heat; Skim fat and ladle soup into bowls, reserving the rest for another use. Season with salt. Serve.

2 comments:

  1. That looks perfect. If it's from Monte and Martha, it is!

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  2. You never fail to make me think this is all worthwhile! Thank you so much Ana!

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