Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Favorite Chicken Soup

Ok, this recipe is NOT for the “wham, bam, thank you, m ‘am” kind of cook. It takes a while to build layer upon layer of flavor, so I usually make this soup on a day when I have back-to-back clients. I’m in the house, I can check on the progress in between sessions and it’s ready for dinner with a yummy tuna sandwich on the side. I try to make enough to freeze one or two containers of the stock to use down the road, but sometimes it’s just too good to make it to the freezer.

There are a couple of keys to getting this right: sautéing the vegetables before adding the water, using good bouillon, and PATIENCE. Building flavor takes time!

When it comes to bouillon, I like the Rapunzel brand, which you can find at Whole Foods and local organic markets.

1 chicken, cut into pieces, skin on
1 bunch of the inedible part (the dark green leaves) of leeks
2-3 carrots, coarsely chopped (cut into thirds)
2-3 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped (cut into thirds)
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2-3 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried dill or 2 teaspoons fresh dill
2 Rapunzel bouillon cubes
¼ cup olive oil
½ bag egg noodles (I use “No Yolks”) if desired
salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:
Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the coarsely chopped carrots and celery, leeks, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add all the chicken pieces EXCEPT breast meat and sauté another 5 minutes. Add filtered water to fill stock pot about ¾ full and add bay leaves and dill. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer on low for about 2½ hours.

After soup has finished simmering, strain the broth and discard the coarsely chopped vegetables. Pick apart the dark meat pieces, discard all bones and reserve the meat for later. Place the broth back on the stove at high heat and add the raw chicken breasts (on the bone is preferred), and bouillon. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until breasts are cooked, about 20 minutes.

When breasts are cooked, remove from the stock and cool. Skim fat off top of stock (to make some tasty matzoh balls, reserve the fat and click here for recipe). If you want to reserve and freeze some of the stock, this is the time to separate a batch and place into containers. Allow the soup to cool before sealing them and be sure to leave a little room at the top for the soup to expand in the freezer.

Add chopped celery and carrots to remaining broth and cook at medium heat for another 10-15 minutes. Cook egg noodles separately and set aside.

When chicken breasts are cool, pick the meat apart from the bone and cut into small pieces. Add to dark meat and set aside.

To assemble, add a handful of cooked noodles and chicken, ladle broth over and serve. Store noodles, chicken and soup separately (otherwise you’ll overcook the noodles and chicken).

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