Monday, June 29, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Soul (no, this is actually the food)

This weekend my husband and I were hit hard with some angry, mutated strain of the flu out for revenge on the human race. When I finally became upright and my stomach was under me, all I wanted was chicken soup. Unfortunately, we only had a very bland "Healthy Request" Chicken Noodle Soup. Whoever "requested" this soup obviously had no tastebuds. It was horrible.

The next morning, I wanted to make some decent chicken noodle soup but I was pretty weak and couldn't stand for long periods. Thankfully, I had some chicken stock I had made and froze ahead of time. It's from my favorite recipe for chicken stock from the "City Tavern Cookbook". I also had some frozen Baked Rosemary Chicken in the freezer. It was easily defrosted and added to the chicken stock for an easy start to my soup. I threw in some herbs from my garden, carrots and chopped onions from the freezer and garlic and then put it in my crockpot for a chicken soup that felt good right down to my soul. There is nothing like having no food for a day to make you appreciate a home cooked meal.

Here is my adapted recipe from the cookbook "City Tavern Cookbook"

CHICKEN STOCK

two handfuls of chopped carrots (I use the frozen, chopped ones)
1 medium onion chopped
1 Tbl. of unsalted butter
2 Tbl. of celery flakes (you can also use one celery ribbed chopped)
1 gallon of water
2 springs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. of dried thyme)
1 tsp. of black pepper
1 bay leaf
4-5 chicken backs (I usually cut the backs from my fresh chickens before freezing and freeze the backs seperately for this purpose.)

Saute the onions and carrots (and celery if using fresh) in the butter. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 hours. Strain and freeze in ziplock bags. There are several of our favorite recipes that use this stock. I premeasure and freeze and mark the front of the ziplock bag with the measurement and/or the recipe it goes in. You can also just freeze them in 1 cup measurements. Easy! When you are ready to use them, put the bag under some warm tap water to loosen the plastic bag. Remove the bag and place in a microwave safe bowl and defrost. You can also just skip the microwave defrost and put right in your pot if your recipe will allow it. Note that there is no salt in this recipe. That is because you will add it in your recipe.

When I bake a chicken, I usually bake two and take the leftovers off the bone and freeze it. Here is my easy baked chicken recipe.

Rosemary Baked Chicken

Four halves of a chicken (note: I always cut the backs out of my chicken to make chicken stock. This also allows more of the skin to get crispy and I find it cooks the chicken better)
Rosemary (crushed and dried)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Pam or olive oil

Rinse the chicken. Lay out the chicken in the pan skin side up. You may have to use two pans if your pan isn't large. Pat the chicken down with a paper towel. Put olive oil on a paper towel and pat all over the chicken skin (or spray with Pam) Sprinkle on all the herbs and spices above. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 min. The chicken will fall off the bone and the aroma of the roasting rosemary will be amazing. Enjoy!

Soulful Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup

Leftover Rosemary Baked Chicken from 1/2 chicken (see above)
1 tsp. Rosemary (dried and crushed) or 1 Tbl. of fresh chopped Rosemary
2 tsp. parsley (dried) or 2 Tbl. of fresh chopped parsley
6 cups of Chicken Stock (see above)
1 tsp. of thyme (dried) or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
handful of frozen, chopped carrots (or 1 chopped fresh carrot)
1/2 a cup of chopped onion (I usually chop onion and freeze ahead of time)
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 Tbl. of Corn Starch mixed with 1/2 cup of cold water in a seperate bowl
1/2 bag of large egg noodles
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

I started everything (but the noodles) on my stove until it was boiling. Then I threw it in my crockpot, added the uncooked noodles and cooked for 2.5-3 hours on low heat. Came out wonderfully. Of course you could just finish it on your stove top, but I like to simmer my soup a little longer to merge the flavors.

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