See what I did there? No soup Nazis here! Last week we learned how to make Chicken in a Fancy Pot. Well, it’s cold out, there is actually snow on the ground, and people are sickly. I bet you could use that soup now, huh? The good news is that you don’t really have to make the chicken to make the soup, but you will need to find yourself a cooked chicken. A 3-4 lb rotisserie chicken from the market will do just fine. In fact, that is what I used to make my stock many years ago when I lived in a teeny-tiny studio with about 2 square feet of counter space. You don’t even need a fancy Le Creuset pot – just a standard 6-8 qt stock pot. I recommend making your own stock whenever possible. It’s healthier because you can control what goes in it, particularly the sodium. If you are pressed for time Swanson makes both low sodium stock and broth. You will probably want to buy both. I typically add store-bought broth when I am in the final stages of soup-making, particularly if I add pasta or potatoes. I bet you want to know the difference, huh? Let’s discuss that first and then we will learn how to make stock, followed by that tasty soup. Vegetarian friends may want to stop reading now.
Chicken broth is made from meat. Chicken stock is made from boiling down chicken on the bones – all those gunky remains of bone, gristle & skin that you don’t want to eat. After I’m done pulling the meat off of the bones for soup or chicken salad, I typically throw the whole shebang in the pot to boil. The result of boiling the carcass is a richer, more gelatinous stock, chock full of flavor and goodness and far less sodium. Don’t worry about the fat from the skin – you will scrape most of that off when the stock cools and it separates. Fat is flavor!
Are you totally grossed out talking about skin and fat and carcasses and bones and gelatinous stuff? I know. It’s like Silence of the Chickens. Well come on, Clarisse, wipe that ‘fowl’ look off your face and let’s do this. Pun intended.
Homemade Chicken Stock
You’ll need a big stock pot and about 4-5 hours of free time (active cooking time is under an hour, including prep). You can freeze leftover stock for a couple of months to use as a base for soups and sauces. I use a cooked chicken (leftovers). Some people make their soups & stocks by letting the chicken cook right in it. I feel funny about that with all the salmonella nonsense and plus I like my chunks to be chunks and not shredded chicken. I’m not a big recipe person for stock because it’s usually a conglomerate of what I have available, but here are the basics:
1 big stock pot, 1 large mesh strainer/colander (not the kind with the holes, it should look like a screen), 1 large Tupperware container to transfer the stock for refrigeration, rubber spatula
1 carcass of a 3-4 lb chicken or sum of its parts on the bone, cooked
1 tbsp olive oil (or butter if that is your preference)
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled & quartered
4 or 5 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
About a half-bag of baby carrots (they’re small and peeled and less work), I think that’s 8 ounces
You can add parsnip if you like – sometimes I do if I have it, but that’s optional
2 or 3 bay leaves (depending on your preference)
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp dried herbs of your choice – I typically roll with Herbes de Provence but when in doubt, apply the Simon Garfunkel: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I typically leave sage out unless it’s a turkey stock because it can be overpowering, but if you like it, by all means, add it.
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-6 qts of water (this will depend on your pot – enough water to cover the chicken carcass, et al, but with enough room for water to boil without overflowing)
If you haven’t already, remove any good meat from your chicken and set aside for soup & salad. Warm your pot & oil over medium heat until the oil gets good and hot. Toss in your garlic & onion and sauté & stir for about three minutes until onions become translucent, add the celery and do the same for a minute or two and then the carrots for another couple of minutes. When your veggies start to get a little caramel-colored, start adding your dried herbs, with the exception of the bay leaves. Add a little salt and pepper, allow the onions & celery to release a little water. Now add your 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze the brown yummy goodness off the bottom of the pan. Allow that wine to evaporate a bit and add your bay leaves. Place the carcass & any chicken remnants (skin, greasy meat you wouldn’t want in your chicken salad, etc.) in the pot. Fill the pot slowly with water (so it doesn’t splash all over) until chicken is covered but with enough room to boil. Turn the heat up to high now & bring the water to a boil. Scrape off some of the white frothy business that rises to the top while it boils. Now reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. You are free to roam around your homestead now while the stock simmers for about 3-4 hours. You don’t want to cook any less than that because you won’t get the full flavor, but you can add more cooking time if you have it available. Periodically check on your stock and stir. You will know it is ready when the veggies get so soft you can smoosh them and the bones come clean. The water should also taste like chicken and not dishwater (you’ll know what I mean when you do it). At that point you will allow the hot stock to cool for a bit before pouring it through the strainer into your Tupperware tub, smooshing the veggies and chicken bits against the side of the strainer with your rubber spatula to extract all that delicious chicken-goodness.
You should have anywhere from 2-3 qts of stock when done. Let the stock cool a bit more, cover the tub and refrigerate overnight or for at least a few hours to let the fat separate. You will scrape that layer off before transferring the stock into smaller containers to freeze and store or using immediately in the tasty chicken soup recipe below. Do you like Williams-Sonoma? I could marry Williams-Sonoma. He brings me so much happiness. Even if you aren’t a fan of dropping wad in the store you should definitely check out their website under recipes. You can enter any ingredient and it will spit out recipes that use it. This recipe is adapted from this one:http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/autumn-vegetable-soup.html?cm_src=RECIPESEARCH. Even though I deviated, I like to provide the original source to give credit where it’s due; and in the event these ingredients sound more appealing.
Lady Sensory’s Autumn Chicken Vegetable Soup:
Use a 6-8 qt stockpot or fancy pot
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced or garlic-pressed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled, and cubed (I used heirloom because they were handy and I had no bell pepper)
1 tbsp dried rosemary (or 2 tbsp fresh)
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (sorry I can’t help myself)
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 lbs of butternut squash (or delicata), in bite-size chunks
1/2 bag of baby carrots, chopped (about 8 oz)
2 bay leaves
1 large bag of baby spinach
2 15 oz cans of cannelini beans
Leftover cooked chicken (meat of 2 breasts, 2 thighs)
4-6 cups of that homemade chicken stock
3-4 cups water
1 large can or box of low-sodium chicken broth(I think these are 32 oz? I apologize, I’m really terrible with quantifying for recipes; but you can yell at me all you want because I can’t hear you)
Half to 3/4 of 1 box of whole wheat farfale (bowtie pasta), cooked and drained (cook this once the soup is almost ready)
Salt & pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat oil over medium heat in your large pot. Add the garlic & onion and sauté until translucent/slightly golden. Add the carrot and sauté for a few minutes. Add the herbs, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Stir in the squash and cook until the surface of the squash starts to soften, which will take a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes. Keep stirring so nothing sticks or burns. Stir in the chicken. Add 4 cups chicken stock, 3-4 cups of water, and the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash and carrots are tender. This takes about a half-hour. Add the baby spinach and simmer. Add the can/box of chicken broth and the cooked bowties (the broth will produce more liquid for the pasta to absorb and not compromise the flavor). Salt and black pepper to taste. Serve it up & garnish with parmesan cheese and pair with a crusty roll. I like the rosemary olive oil rolls from Wegmans. Actually, I like them a little too much. This serves 6-8 generously.
You can refrigerate the leftover soup for a couple of days afterward or freeze for a couple of weeks. It’s delicious. I promise.
Now let’s enjoy some artwork with our soup and crusty roll. This one’s called “A Woman’s Place” and I painted it in 1996. It’s acrylic on wood and measures 30″ W x 24″ H. Look how happy they are to cook for the photographer and shine his shoes in his kitchen-slash-darkroom…I especially like the Fran Drescher-esque woman with the 409 cleaner…and the Daniel Day Lewis lookalike who is so appreciative of all their hard work! Have fun with this one. I certainly did.
Now try not to laugh while eating your soup because it hurts something awful when stuff comes out your nose….