Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Snooping for Soup - Part III

Mommy's Chicken Noodle Soup

Mommy's Chicken Noodle Soup

I think we can all agree that nothing is more comforting on a rainy or snowy day than a hot bowl of chicken soup. Not only is chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food, warming us inside and out, but it's also been proven to help fight colds and flus. I can make this soup in my sleep, and after doing it for the first time in a while, I can see why. Chicken soup - though time consuming - is actually pretty easy to make. All it takes is a basic knowledge of the ingredients, which you then gather, throw into a pot and boil until the water has absorbed all the goodness from the chicken and veggies. Strain out the chicken and veg, add some noodles, and presto! You have chicken noodle soup! The broth in this recipe will keep for about 4 days in fridge and can be eaten as is, with noodles, or frozen in blocks or ice cube trays and thawed as needed for use in soups, stir fries, or as a braising liquid.

Here's How You Do It
Total Prep and Cook Time: Approximately 2.5 hours.
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

2 lbs of Chicken Wings or Chicken Bones - I used wings for this recipe because they're cheap and meaty, but if you can find chicken bones, which are cheaper, or have the carcass of a leftover roast or rotisserie chicken, you can use that instead

3 Large or Medium Carrots - scrubbed of all dirt and the tough woody bit at the end removed - you can peel these if you want, but you don't have to

2 Parsnips - scrubbed and the tough woody bit at the end removed - these are a white root vegetable that look a lot like carrots but aren't. Peeled, boiled and mashed, they make a nice alternative to mashed potatoes, and are great fried up as chips too! Like the carrots, you can peel these for the soup if you want, but you don't have to

3 Stalks aka Ribs of Celery - rinsed of all dirt, the very bit at the wider end removed, and cut in half

2 Medium Onions - Cut in Half but not peeled - I have no idea why peeling the onions isn't necessary, I just know it works.

1 Small Bunch of fresh Dill (Optional) - a bunch about 1/2 an inch across plus more - finely chopped - to top the soup with - this is an herb that adds great flavor to the soup and can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. The soup I grew up with always had dill in it, but if you don't like, you don't have to add it. Want to give it a try but don't know what to look for? Here's a picture.
Fresh Dill


6 to 8 Cups of Water + More for boiling your noodles - The amount depends mainly on the size of your pot

Salt - to taste

1/2 of a 375 g Pkg of Egg Noodles - see the image below - Unlike the pasta we usually eat, egg noodles are softer, thinner, and tend to cook more quickly. They come in sizes ranging from short and fine to extra broad. They're usually either found in the pasta section or among the canned and powdered soups in the grocery store. If you're cholesterol conscious, there's even a brand of egg noodles made without yolks. These noodles are great in chicken soup, but they also make a nice side dish for stews when boiled, strained, and tossed in a little butter or margarine.
Egg Noodles

Equipment

1 Large Pot

1 Cooking Spoon with a long handle

1 Cutting Board

1 Heat Proof Bowl - A metal mixing bowl or sturdy glass bowl will do the job just fine

1 Metal Strainer

1 Regular or Medium Metal Bowl

1 Trivet - that's the technical term for that thing you stick under pots to keep them from burning the counter

1 Medium or Large Pot - for boiling your egg noodles

4 Plastic containers with lids - 1 for your broth or stock, 1 for your egg noodles, 1 for your cooked carrots, and 1 for your cooked chicken.

In your large pot, dump the chicken, bunch of dill, onions, carrots, celery, and parsnips.

Add enough water to cover the chicken and make the vegetables float.

Bring the whole thing to a boil.

Lower the heat and keep it bubbling, uncovered for an hour.

As it's bubbling away, you'll notice a white foam rising to the top of the soup. Most people call this the "scum", but I call it "soup scum" because it's more specific and the name adds a nice ring to something that's quite nasty looking. The scum is actually protein, and while you don't HAVE to skim it off, I do, as I find it produces a nicer, clearer soup broth. To skim the scum off, take your long handled spoon and run the scoop part sideways across the surface of the bubbling broth making sure to gather as much foam as possible without taking out too much of the liquid broth. See the images below.
Chicken Soup Scum
 
Chicken Soup Scum Skimming
Dump the scum into a regular or small metal bowl. This will take a few passes of your spoon over the bubbling soup but I assure you, it's worth it.

Discard the soup scum.

Once the vegetables in the soup are soft, take the pot off the heat and put it on a trivet on the counter.

Let the soup cool for a half an hour.

Put your heat proof bowl in the sink or on a trivet on the counter.

Put your metal strainer in the bowl.

CAREFULLY, without spilling anything, pour the contents of your large pot into the strainer and set the pot aside.

Lift the strainer and shake it gently to get all the broth from the solids into the bowl.

Pour the broth back into the pot and taste it.

If it tastes too chickeney, add some water to it, a cup at a time, until it's as you like it.

Add some salt, a teaspoon at a time, stirring after each addition, until the broth is salty enough for you. I like to add the salt at the end because a lot of my friends - not to mention my parents - are salt sensitive. If you want to be extra careful, serve the soup unsalted and let them add their own.

It's now good to go...

...Unless you want it low fat, of course.

IF you want a low fat broth, cool the broth to room temperature on the counter, cover it, and then put the pot in the fridge. If the pot won't fit, put the broth in a large plastic container, close it, and then put it in fridge.

Cool the broth for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the lid. The fat will have solidified and risen to the top - see the image below - where you can easily take it off with a spoon or clean rubber gloved hands and discard it. The broth can then be reheated for soup or frozen.

The stuff on the surface is the chicken fat - it will melt and become clear if heated with the soup or you can simply remove it
To turn this chicken soup into chicken noodle soup, all you need to do is add noodles, chicken, and if you like 'em, carrots.

To cook the egg noodles, in a medium or large clean pot, boil them until tender (do a taste test to make sure) - approximately 2 to 5 minutes depending on the size of your egg noodles. Strain 'em out and put them in a container until you're ready to assemble and serve your soup. I always keep the soup and noodles separate until serving time because I find the noodles get too mushy and gummy if you keep them in the broth.

Remember the veg and chicken you used to make the chicken broth?

Unfortunately - as I hate waste - most of this should be thrown out. However, you can salvage the carrots and chicken if you like them in your chicken soup. Simply remove the skin - if using the wings - from the chicken, and pull the meat off the bones. The chicken will be very soft, so it should pop right off. The carrots can be put in the soup as is, or you can chop them up and then put them in the soup.

Like the noodles, I prefer to keep the chicken and carrots separate in the fridge until serving time.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SOUP

If the broth is cool, heat it up in a pot on the stove or in plastic container in the microwave. The broth might be a bit gelatinous right out of the fridge but I can assure you it will liquefy once heated.

Put some noodles, chicken, and if you like em, cooked carrots, in your soup bowls, and then pour the hot broth over them.

Top with some fresh chopped dill and you're ready serve!

Enjoy!

The holidays are a-coming and that means most of us will be celebrating!

Since partying can be so expensive, I'm doing my next series on budget-friendly alcoholic beverages.

So stick around!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.










No comments:

Post a Comment