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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup; for my lil' friend Kate

My lil' friend, Kate, wiped out while sledding down the street, breaking her lil' nose into what appeared to be a very bad jigsaw puzzle. After her surgery to fix her lil' nose, I thought she could use some comfort. Chicken noodle soup. Who doesn't love it? It's comfort food of the God's, If it's prepared with love, and lots of flavor. Unfortunately, too many chicken soup recipes fall flat, using over boiled chicken and vegetables, and noodles that disintegrate into a gloppy mess. No longer. Get your hand/arm protection on. (That sizzling chicken will burn your forearms, if you get too close).
It's time to make chicken soup.

Get yourself a good, enameled, cast iron Dutch oven. 6 1/2 U.S. quarts.
The best $38.00 I've ever spent. (Sam's).

Now, prep the veg. You'll need 2 leeks, 1 onion, 4 carrots, 4 celery stalks, (with leaves. The inner stalks are the most tender, and have the most flavor).
 1 red bell pepper, and about 6 cloves of garlic.

Now, take your carrots and chop them up. Slice them in half horizontally. Then, cut down the middle vertically, creating halves. Make one more vertical slice so the carrot half is now in 4 pieces.

Flip the carrots over so the flat sides are down. This keeps them from running all over the cutting board while you dice them up.

Now, prep the leeks. Slice off the thick, dark green leaves. Then, slice them in half, vertically.

After soaking them in cold water, then rinsing under a faucet to get the sand out, dry them and slice horizontally into bite size pieces. Be sure to remove any existing tough green leaves.

Put them on your clean cutting board, next to the onions and carrots.
 The longest to cook goes into the pan first (carrots), and ending with what takes the least amount of time (garlic).

Cut the onion in half, stem to root. Then peel off the papery skin.

Place the sliced half down on the cutting board and make two horizontal slices through it.

Now, make several vertical slices, from root to tip. Hold the onion together with your hand.

Turn the onion around so your knife is perpindicular to the vertical cuts. Slice into bite size, or smaller, pieces. Put them on your veg board.

Dice up the red pepper. Cut it in half, stem to root.

Use a paring knife to remove the seeds and white pith.

Then slice it into slices.

Then chop it into bite size pieces. Put it on the veg board.

Now, you're ready to cook. The leeks are on a separate board. No more room on this one.

Drizzle some Extra Light olive oil in your pot. Heat on med/high heat.

Place 6 chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and pepper, skin side down, into pot with hot olive oil. There are only 4 in this pic because I cooked 2 more while making stock.

Let these cook on med/high heat at least 6-8 minutes. If you try to turn the thighs over, but they are stuck to the pan, leave them alone for a few minutes. When you are able to turn the chicken easily, do so. The point at which the chicken skin releases from the cast iron is exactly where you want to be. It's all about a chemical reaction. I won't delve into it here, but let me know if you need the science behind the dish. (Arthur, feel free to provide the science).
Turn the chicken over in the pan. Let it sear for about 30 seconds. Remove the chicken from the skillet onto a plate lined with paper towels.

Let the chicken cool on a wad of paper towels.
This is the beautiful goodness rendered from the chicken thighs and olive oil. We will capture all of the flavor left behind.

Heat the pot to med/high. Whisk in 1/2 cup white wine. Scrape all the sides of the pan with the whisk.

The pot should look like this: Clean on the sides. Brown liquid in the center.

When the sides of the pot are clean, pour the liquid into a glass measuring cup.

See that thick, yellow layer on top? That's fat. Spoon it off. Pour the rest
of the broth into a bowl or pot reserved for the caramelized veg.

Toss the carrots into the hot Dutch oven, drizzled with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

When they have a bit of brown on the carrots (carmelization), remove them from the pot.

Put them in the same pot or bowl the broth was placed in.
Drizzle a little more olive oil in the pot, then add the celery and peppers..

Cook over medium / high heat until the veg has softened a bit, and the veg has some brown color to it. Remove it to the pot with reserved carrots.
Deglaze the pot again, using about 1/3 cup white wine. Scrape up all the lovely brown fond stuck to the sides of the pot. This is where the flavor is, and we're going to get it all in our soup.
Now, pour the liquid from the pot into the measuring cup.

Drizzle a bit more olive oil in the pot. Add the onions and leeks. Cook until soft and the onions are barely brown.

Put them in the reserved veg pot.
Deglaze the pot one more time with about 1/3 cup white wine. Scrape all of the browned bits off the side and whisk it into the wine. Get that pot clean!

Put all of the browned veg back into the pot.

Now, add all of the liquid collected from deglazing the pot right back into the pot with the veg.

Heat to medium/high.
Let's prep the chicken.
Peel the skin off with your hands. Throw it away.

Now, just tear the chicken  into shreds with your hands. Chop it into bite size pieces. Set aside. This will only take about 5 minutes to cook through.

Add about 6 cups chicken stock to pot. Homemade is best. Chicken stock is best when chicken pieces with bones are roasted with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, Kosher salt and whole peppercorns, then placed in a stock pot covered with water and simmered for a few hours.
Box of stock will do, but doesn't ever compare to homemade stock..

Add enough stock to cover all the veg, and the chicken, which will be added later. The gelatinous stock, when added to the pot and brought up to heat, makes for a silky smooth soup base, loaded with flavor.

Bring the veg up to a gentle simmer.
Throw in 4-5 bay leaves.

And a bundle of fresh thyme.

Simmer gently until carrot is almost done. Taste one. If it's tender with some bite, add the chopped chicken to the soup. Simmer gently about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

In a separate pot. cook the egg noodles in heavily salted water until al dente (slightly firm to the bite). Drain and drizzle with olive oil.
If you combine cooked noodles into the soup now, whatever is left over will turn into a gloppy mess. Keep them separately.
Fish out the thyme bundle and bay leaves.
 Put the noodles in the bottom of each individual bowl and ladel hot soup over.

Now THAT'S chicken soup for the soul!

6 chicken thighs, or other chicken pieces, browned, skinned, and chopped
1 onion, diced
2 leeks diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, diced, including leaves
1 red bell pepper, seeded, pithed, and diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 thyme bundle
4 Bay leaves
Extra light olive oil
White wine, about 1 cup, divided
Kosher salt and pepper
1 pound dry egg noodles, cooked al dente, drizzled with olive oil

Process: Veg
Wash, peel, and chop carrots and celery
Clean and chop leeks
Dice onion
Seed and chop red pepper
Smash and mince garlic
Tie up thyme bundle
Get 4-5 bay leaves

  1. In a Dutch oven, swirl about 2 Tbls extra light olive oil. Heat it over med/high heat.

  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Saute chicken skin side down until skin is brown and crispy.

  3. Turn chicken over and saute about 30 seconds.

  4. Remove from pot onto paper towels, skin side down.

  5. Deglaze pot with about 1/3 cup white wine. Scrape all brown bits from bottom and sides of pot.

  6. Pour deglazing liquid into a measuring cup. Defat.

  7. Drizzle a little olive oil into the pot. Brown the carrots, then remove from the pot.

  8. Add the celery and peppers to the hot pot. Add olive oil as necessary, to keep the veg from sticking.

  9. Move the peppers and celery to the same pot as the carrots.

  10. Deglaze the pot with about 1/3 cup white wine. Scrape down the sides and bottom to clean the pot. Put the liquid in the measuring cup.

  11. Add a drizzle olive oil to the pot. Add all of the leeks and onion to the pot. Saute on med/high heat until onions and leeks are soft and slightly brown.

  12. Remove onions and leeks to brown veg pot.

  13. Deglaze the pot with white wine one more time.

  14. Add deglazing liquid to prior deglaze liquid.

  15. Put all sauteed veg back into Dutch oven.

  16. Add all deglaze liquid to pot.

  17. Add all the browned veg,  chicken stock, thyme bundle, and bay leaves to pot.

  18. Bring to a gentle simmer.

  19. When carrots are firm/tender to bite, throw in the chopped chicken.

  20. Simmer about 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

  21. In a separate pot, cook egg noodles until firm to bite, about 10 minutes.

  22. Drain and drizzle with olive oil. Do not add to soup.

  23. Spoon hot soup over cooked noodles into individual bowls.

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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.