In these cold days of a new Winter season, I find myself craving soups more and more often. Growing up I had a love-hate relationship with most soups. I loved cream of broccoli and chicken noodle, and hated everything else. Now that I’m grown and making my own food, I’ve discovered the simple pleasure of an easy and entirely warming pot of soup bubbling away on the stove.
I tend to fall into the camp of cooking which takes recipes as mostly the guidelines to throwing stuff in a pot and making it into food. As such sometimes I have some resounding successes; other times I have some rather paltry failures. This adventure fell somewhere in between for me and is actually a combination of two adventures into one recipe.
I love the smell of a good chicken-vegetable-noodle soup on the stove. Since it is getting colder and I had leftover bits of chicken lying around waiting for me to figure out what to do with them I decided on Tuesday to make some soup of the chicken-based sort.
A few weeks ago or so I had tried the soup and made the mistake of adding those awesome little pasta stars (you know: Chicken & Stars: Homemade Edition?). I didn’t realize that those little buggers REALLY suck up juice fast. It is why I guess my mother always used to make egg noodles for the soup but serve them on the side, separately and not included in the soup. Pretty much by the time I was scooping the leftovers into containers for lunches I was left with a mostly juice-free mass of pasta-filled chicken and veggies. Still tasty; but to me the hot broth is one of the best parts of a good soup!
So this time I decided that it would be RICE I would add; and it would NOT be added to the entire pot; but served separately. A good decision overall because it means everyone gets to decide for themselves how much or little starch they want added to their liquid and veggies and chicken bones.
So to make my own comforting version of (broth-filled) chickeny-veggie-some starch-you-like soup; first you need some chicken to make the broth. On Tuesday I had some leftover ribcages and thigh bones from when I used up the meat in a “boneless” chicken recipe. I had slapped them into a plasticware container and put them in the freezer.
So I put them into the pot, right from the freezer. Frozen chicken bits in the pot: Bam! I then liberally sprinkled with kosher salt. Flavor, baby! Then I added the remains of a bit of chicken broth I had in the fridge and filled up the rest of the pot with water. You don’t need the chicken broth per-say since that’s why you have the chicken bits but since I needed to use it up; I used it!
Then I set to work chopping veggies. This week I had leftover broccoli stems, celery, carrots and onion (as well as some onion greens). A few weeks ago (pictured below) I had celery, onions, carrots and swiss chard (and onion greens again). Yum! Chop it all into bit-sizable bits. I also, anytime I have spinach or some leafy veggies, separated out the leafier/faster cooking bits from the root-esque parts that will cook more slowly.
Once the pot of chicken-water had been boiling for a while (basically once I’m done chopping); I add the bigger chunks (leaving the leaves aside and the onion tops for the last 10 minutes or so). Then I add a bit more salt, some pepper and a cover to let it bubble away.
Then: bubble away. This part usually lasts as long as I need it to (on low if I’m busy doing other things for a while) but at the least until the hardest veggie you have in there is tender and tasty.
At some points, depending on if you’re using lots of full chicken meat and not just mostly bones, you might have to skim the gray and (rather nasty) looking/smelling cooked blood from the surface of the soup with a slotted spoon. In my experience thus far there is nothing that makes this part of the process pleasant. But it IS necessary because that grey mass doesn’t really add to the flavor in my experience!
At this point you can (if you haven’t already) set the rice to cook or the pasta to boil in its separate pot. If you plan to add pasta directly to your soup either add stuff that is ALREADY cooked or make sure you start with LOTS of liquid. The pasta WILL soak it up.
So, lesson learned above. Keep those starches out unless you’re looking for a very thick stew instead of a soup!
Once everything is ready be sure to taste a bite and add more seasonings if desired. Then you serve it up, add bread if desired, and nom it up!
Bear in mind that this is more a set of guidelines to a chickeny vegetable and some-kind-of-starch soup than it is any kind of true recipe that might be useful to folks used to measurements…
- Chicken bits. Bones and skin and such add nice flavor. Use thighs for good flavor if you want meat. Breast meat can be added but should be done later in the cooking process or it gets over-done.
- Water/chicken broth
- Veggies (Celery, Carrots, Onion are the basics. Then add whatever you have on hand to use up!)
- Pasta. Or Rice. Cooked on its OWN and served separately or added after being fully cooked. You’ve been warned…
- Throw that shit in a pot and boil it up. Except the starch. Keep that hanging out by itself or you’ll lose all that lovely broth to absorption. It will still TASTE great but if you’re hankering for some broth-filled soup; heed the warning and keep those starches out until the end!
- Serve over your starch.
Like I said, more of a set of soupy guidelines than a recipe in any useful sense of the word!
Enjoy your end-of-year celebrations; no matter what they may be (or may have been). Happy Holidays and may all your soup be brothy!