Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This Chicken Soup Can Beat Up Your Mom's Chicken Soup!

You can't tell by just looking at the photo above, but there are a few "secret" ingredients in this Chicken Soup that make it extra special and extra delicious. You'll have to check the ingredient list to find out what they are or (even better)make it to taste the difference. P.S. Don't tell your mother, but I am pretty sure this Chicken Soup is better than hers. I can see the bumper sticker now: My chicken soup can beat up your mom's chicken soup!
Our house is full of sick puppies. The husband is recovering from (what I thought would be minor) surgery. In my attempt to nurse him back to health I worked myself sick and tired, but mostly sick. The baby has a severe ear infection that antibiotics aren't treating easily and in my attempt to soothe his cries at night I have rocked myself sick and tired, but mostly tired. And the other kids? They have the usual snotty noses, germy fingers and hacking coughs. This can only mean one thing for dinner tonight: Chicken Soup.
Normally I would cool my stock in the refrigerator overnight so that it wouldn't be so fatty, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Tonight we will sacrifice our long-term health and well-being for immediate health and gratification and thus artery-clogging-soup it is!

My Chicken Soup Can Beat Up Your Mom's Chicken Soup Chicken Soup

Stock portion:
2 1/2 to 3-pound chicken, cut up (this particular time I used 6 thighs & 2 small breasts)
3 1/2 quarts water
1 onion, sliced in half with skin and all
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
3 cloves garlic, smashed
4 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 t. of bouillon granules
Salt and pepper
Soup portion:
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup cooking sherry
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper

1. Add all of stock list's ingredients to a big soup pot. Bring to a boil then simmer until chicken is tender, about 35 minutes. Skim top throughout process to remove the scum that rises. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. When chicken has cooled enough to touch, but is still warm, pick the bones clean. Set chicken aside.
2. Remove and discard bay leaves, onion and garlic from stock. Pour stock through a strainer (I line my strainer with a cheesecloth) to remove small yuckity-yuck and to have a beautiful, clear stock.

At this point you have stock and can use it to make a million different things. I like to put mine in the refrigerator over night so I can skim off the fat and have Low-Fat Chicken Stock for this delicious, creamy chicken soup or for future dishes like PW's Chicken Spaghetti and Ashley's Cheesy Orzo and Creamy Asparagus Soup and Balsamic Glaze for my chicken thighs. Store stock in two-cup increments inside Ziplock freezer bags. They're the perfect size for all your chicken stock needs and they thaw quickly. Now back to the soup...

3. Bring stock back to a boil, add carrots, and cook for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for 10 to 20 minutes. Add chicken, parsley, sherry, Parmesan and cream. Cook until warmed through (about 5 minutes). Taste soup and add salt and pepper as needed (it tends to be under salted at this point). Also check doneness of celery and carrots.

Stock's ingredients (below): The Maggi product (with the yellow lid) is Chicken bouillon granules. A Colombian student recommended it to me a few years ago. I used to use Knorr, which I loved, but this stuff is found in the Hispanic section of the grocery and is cheaper than Knorr. Plus, I feel cultured using a product that is labeled in Spanish. Ironically, MSG is spelled the same in Spanish. Who knew?

By the way, do you know of a chicken base that doesn't contain MSG because all of a sudden I am feeling really guilty and bloated and head achey this... is this an asthma attack I feel coming on?

And below are the soup's ingredients. Can you find the "secret" ingredients? Where's Waldo? I normally like using regular sized carrots, but the Easter Bunny ate all of ours. These little ones will have to do, but don't peel them like someone I know once did (I won't mention any names, but she makes Cheesy Orzo).

Throw these in for good measure. Sister Schubert's Yeast Rolls. I love yeast. In my rolls.

Below the stock is simmering. Bubble. Bubble. Bubble. I learned something new about simmering in last month's Bon Appetit magazine. When simmering the bubbles never break at the top. They are small and rise slowly, but don't bubble and break. Read more about simmering vs. boiling here or just go about your merry way and continue simmering the same way you have always simmered.

Strain the stock to get a pretty, clear stock.

Or don't strain it and just eat this yuckity-yuck scum. I'm sure it tastes delicious.

That's all of the cooking process pictures folks. Some friends showed up to visit the patient and I thought it would look funny if they saw me paying more photographic attention to our food than to our children. But the food never sasses me and always smiles pretty when I bring the camera out. Who can blame me?

But I was able to sneak this photo in when the visitors weren't looking. I pretended like I was aiming the camera at the kids, then did the ol' switch-a-roo technique. "Oh, kids. You are so cute the way you turn your noses up at the food I serve you. Here let me get your picture while you look disgusted and are stomping your feet and demanding macaroni and cheese. I love the way you do that!"

This soup is so good and if it weren't for it, I would never make Chicken Soup at all. I tend to think the Sherry and the Parmesan cheese (and the cream) are the secret ingredients, so please, whatever you do, DO NOT leave them out!


ashley said...

I must say that I haven't read very far into the ingredient list but I'm feeling confident I'm well prepared: my two thighs I sometimes fear look like six and I know I got the two small breast portion covered (darn those nursing babies).

ashley said...

Okay, now I've read the whole thing and I have to defend my cooking honor. I was having a dinner party or family over or something that required a veggie tray. I pulled out my veggies to prepare and my carrots had that dried out white funk all over them. I didn't have time to run to the store so I peeled them (and my fingertips) so that they would be aesthetically pleasing to my guests. Boy was that a royal pain in the...fingertips

Kristy said...

Sorry I threw you under the vegetable mean bus. It is an awesome story. I love imagining you standing there trying to peel baby carrots. I hope your guests never noticed (and don't read this bolg).