Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chicken Soup for everyone's soul!

The voters have spoken (all one of you, thankyouverymuch!), the polls are in, & the first of possibly many recipes is now here. Ladies and ladies, I bring you the essential recipe for Chicken Soup!

It's so easy it's scary: Depending on your family & your budget, start with the chicken of your choice. Either a whole chicken, or bone-in chicken breasts, or bone-in thighs, or chicken wings (but you won't get much meat that way); use enough to feed your family. Rinse the chicken & put it into a soup pot. Cover the chicken with Swanson's LOW SODIUM chicken broth. Throw in a large onion, cut in half, 2 or three carrots, washed (don't bother peeling), and 2 or three celery ribs (washed very well - the stuff I get here is usually filthy!). You can also throw in a handful of dried parsley & some black pepper.

Bring it to a boil, & cover & simmer several hours. If any "foam" gathers on the surface just skim off & discard. After several hours, the soup should have cooked down somewhat. Take it off the heat, remove all the chicken, & pour the broth into a bowl. My family doesn't care for the veggies in the soup, so I strain my broth. If your family likes them, leave them in or chop them & add back.

Let the broth cool/chill so the fat collects on the surface. Then skim it off & toss. If the soup is truly cold, it's easy to skim off the fat w/ a spoon. Debone the chicken, cut it into bite sizes, and add to the broth.

When you're ready to serve, bring the soup to a simmer, taste & correct for seasonings (sometimes I add some Knorr chicken bouillon to rich up the taste), and cook your pasta. When the pasta (small macaroni, or fideos, or something spoon-sized) is ready, drain it, then serve the soup. I keep the pasta separate so everyone can get as much as they'd like, plus it prevents all the broth from soaking into the pasta & it makes better leftovers.

We serve it with French bread, sometimes a salad, and always with freshly-grated Parmesan on top.

I've been making this so long that I could do it blindfolded. You can also use your left-over turkey carcass, with the addition of some extra meat after the broth is strained. The soup is different with turkey, but is excellent - a richer flavor, if you will.

I make this with a turkey carcass Thanksgiving afternoon (our big meal is at lunch that day) & freeze it for Christmas night. We usually have beef soup Thanksgiving night, to avoid poultry overload. But when you've got broth in the freezer, it makes dinner that night a piece of cake!

And, the broth freezes beautifully for months in freezer Ziploks. You can also use the broth for other meals needing a good broth, but soup is really the best, to me.

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