Chicken soup is International and every culture seems to have their own variation. Not only is it comforting and delicious, Scientists are confirming what Grandmothers have known for years!
With Cooler Weather on the way...It's time to start thinking "Soup!"
I love Soup! I live in Florida and it doesn’t matter how hot the weather is, I always make Soup. The other day I was craving some Chicken soup and didn’t have any on hand so I decided to open a can of that Campbell’s Select – you know the one advertised on TV where the woman can identify where all the ingredients came from…herbs from Smiths farm, potatoes grown on the east side of a mountain, blah, blah, blah! It’s just not quite what they make it out to be! Okay, I admit it, I’m a Soup-Snob but there really is nothing like a good bowl of home-made soup!
Chicken soup is International and every culture seems to have their own variation. Just to mention a few - The Chinese love theirs seasoned with ginger, spring onions and star anise. The French prefer a bouillon or a consommé. Germans may add dumplings or Spaetzle noodles, and in Israel, Chicken soup is a traditional dish of the Jewish kitchen and Shabbat.
Lately, Scientists say they have confirmed what grandmothers have known for years -that chicken soup is good for colds. Specifically, it has anti-inflammatory properties that could explain why it soothes sore throats and eases the misery of colds. There’s also that "TLC" factor when you know that somebody prepared soup for you from scratch! Whatever it is, it’s just good stuff!
My Mom always made chicken soup using an old hen and boiling it for hours…and it was wonderful. However old hens are hard to find these days (in the fowl form) and I usually use whatever chicken is on sale that week – I’ll usually go for thigh and leg quarters.
I was also very fortunate to have travelled to Sicily many years ago and met a woman who made the best chicken stock I’ve ever tasted. She was also gracious enough to share her technique with me. There are a few things that make this stock very different. This involves cutting across the bones to allow the marrow into the broth, as well as using the onion skins to color it.
Sometimes I will double the recipe and I’ll freeze it. I’ve also frozen it in ice-cube trays – using individual cubes for recipes requiring chicken broth.
Once you have a good stock…the variations are endless:
So Let’s start with the Basic Stock:
This will make about a quart and 1/2
6 thigh/leg quarters 2 onions 2 stalks celery 1 bay leaf 1 carrot 4 cloves of garlic 4 Sprigs of parsley Lots of salt to taste Ground pepper Water to cover
Take the chicken legs and pull off as much of the skin and fat that you can…leaving a little. Take a knife or cleaver and give it a quick chop through the bone – once through the thigh and once through the drumstick, leaving the leg intact (this allows the marrow to come out which ultimately flavors and colors the soup) Place the chicken pieces in a stockpot.
Wash the onions with the skin on and cut them in half (the onion skins also color the stock). Cut the celery stalks into a couple of pieces, add them to the pot with the bay leaf, carrot (unpeeled), garlic and parsley. Cover the chicken and veggies with water – about 2” over everything in the pot.
Bring it all to a boil and skim off any white foam that comes to the top. Add your Salt and Pepper and lower the heat and just let it gently simmer for about 2 1/2 hours. The smell in the house is incredible and will drive you crazy if you’re hungry!
Now you have to strain this…I usually pour it into another pot using a pasta strainer as it doesn’t have to be fine. Discard the onions, celery and carrot and you can salvage some of the chicken to add back into the soup. Some I discard and the rest I put into a zip-lock bag for a treat to mix with Dog-food for my 2 little Yorkies (they are very happy!)
If you have the time, make this a day in advance and put it into the refrigerator. This way the fat will solidify and you can just take it off the top. This makes this broth a relatively low fat food, but this also depends on what you add to it! If you’re wanting to use the stock the same day, you can just skim off any unwanted fat with a spoon and you’re left with such an amazing broth to make soups and other recipes with!
And here's just 3 of my favorite Chicken soup recipes to use this wonderful broth/stock with - Enjoy!
Here’s a good stand-by recipe when you’re looking for a hearty one-dish meal. I always vary the ingredients as far as the fresh herbs are concerned, depending on what I have on hand. And as you can see by the photo, there are 2 different kinds of pasta in this pot as I had run out of one – same taste though!
6 slices of thick lean bacon cut into ½ inch pieces 1 large onion diced 3 large cloves of garlic minced 2 ribs of celery chopped 2 carrots chopped into ½ inch pieces 1 quart of chicken broth or stock 1 28oz can diced tomatoes 2 15 oz cans of Great Northern or Cannelini beans 6 oz of fresh spinach roughly chopped 2 sprigs of parsley finely chopped 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil 8 oz of dry ditalini or seashell pasta 1 tablespoon of “Better than Boullion” Ham base (optional) Salt and pepper to taste Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish and extra flavor
In a dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces until semi-crisp. Drain off excess fat but leave about a tablespoon. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, diced celery and carrots and sauté until onions are transparent. Add the Chicken Stock and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered. Add the beans, spinach, parsley, oregano and basil and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the “Ham Base” if you have it! Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the pasta and cook uncovered until pasta is tender (approximately 10 minutes), Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and sprinkle cheese on top!
Traditionally "Scotch Broth" is made with Lamb, but I love making it with Chicken broth. There's just something about barley in a soup...that just makes it so comforting and creamy and delicious. To about a quart of the Chicken broth I add:
1 cup of Pearled Barley 1 large Carrot peeled and sliced 1 large celery rib sliced 1 medium onion diced 1/2 can of diced tomatoes
Bring the stock to a boil - add the Barley and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the chopped veggies and tomato and simmer for an additional 45 minutes.
Matza Ball soup:
4 cups of stock
1 diced Onion
1 stalk of Celery
1 large sliced peeled Carrot
1 Large Handful of Egg Noodles
Matza Balls prepared from a Mix
Bring the stock to a boil, add the diced up onion, sliced celery and carrot. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, add the egg noodles and simmer for another 15 minutes. Pour it over the prepared Matza Balls (from a mix)…OH MY!!!!
Note: After mixing, Matza balls will usually take about 15 minutes resting time in the refrigerator and another 20 minutes to boil.