Monday, July 21, 2014

Stomping Out the Man Flu

This is my secret weapon. Its what I make if I ever want to comfort someone via the belly. So my sharing this with you... makes you pretty stinkin' special.

I learned how to make chicken noodle soup when I was still crushing pretty hard on my husband, before we were officially "together." He got sick for the first time in forever, and was....well, acting like boys do when they get sick.

My granddad had given me a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for Christmas that year (what I wouldn't do to know where the heck that thing went!), and when I learned my hunk-a-burnin-love wasn't feeling well, I went home to make him some soup from my BHG cookbook... as soon as I got out of seventh hour.

Its been a favorite of his ever since, because to him, food is love. I think he realized I was head-over-heels for him when I went out of my way to make this, then ride the bus to his house with a giant pot of soup - and that feeling remains. So I could make it every week, and he just smiles and gobbles it up.

In the past year or so, I've started occasionally adding dumplings to the soup instead or rice or noodles. My mom made chicken and dumplings when I was little and I remember picking out the dumplings and scarfing them down. I could have sustained life on those things. I'm a total starch-o-holic.

I'll start by giving you my basic recipe for chicken soup. This is a very hearty soup, almost a stew. I include rice/pasta in the recipe, and the starch from the rice or pasta (since we don't rinse it) thickens the broth - it is very filling! If it's dumplings you want, the broth will be more like a broth - liquidy. I suggest omitting the rice/pasta if you're going with dumplings - there's enough starch in the dumplings, trust me!

Basic Chicken Soup
1 whole, raw chicken
1 bunch of celery
5-8 carrots (4 C chopped)
3 large white onions, 2 chopped, one halved
3 whole cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp each (dried, ground): marjoram, oregano, and sage
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes (use up to a tbsp if you like it spicy)
Apprx 2 Tbsp salt - start with 1 Tbsp and add salt to taste. I tend to use more...
20 C water - not a typo. Yes, twenty.
2 Tbsp butter or cooking oil of your preference (but butter's better)
2 C rice or pack of pasta/noodles (optional)
1. Remove the chicken's innards, rinse the bird.

2. In a stock pot, add water, entire chicken, garlic, 1 Tbsp salt, and the halved onion. Cook on medium heat for about an hour or until the meat easily separates from the bone.
3. Dice the remaining onion. Cut the carrots lengthwise in half, then chop. Rinse your celery, cut stalks lengthwise in half, and chop.

 4. When the chicken is done cooking, move it to a baking dish or large bowl and let it cool. Do not discard the cooking liquid!
5. Place a strainer over a pot or large mixing bowl. Pour the broth into the bowl/pot through the strainer, so it catches the halved onions, garlic, and chicken goobers. Put it aside.
6. Heat the original cooking pot to a medium heat. Add about a tsp of butter to the pot (see pic below for this highly scientific process - pfft), then add carrots. Stir frequently, and cook until they begin to soften but are not "soft." 

7. While the carrots are cooking, start shredding the chicken. I place the skin, cartilage and other gooey chickeny things that wouldn't taste good in soup to a separate dish (dog dish is to the left) and give it to the dog. Happy, happy, dog.

8. Meanwhile, don't forget about your vegetables! Now it's celery's turn - add to the pot and cook until it begins to soften, but isn't necessarily "soft." (You won't see cooking celery pictured - had to run to the store and grab some!)

9. Lastly, add the onions and cook until they are a little past translucent. A little brown on the edges is okay.

10. Add the cooking liquid that was stored back into the pot with the vegetables. Add bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, sage, red pepper flakes, tablespoon of salt, and black pepper, as well. 

11. If you choose do so so, add 2 C of rice or a bag of noodles to your pot and simmer on medium low. If you're going grain-free, just skip this step.

12. Add the shredded chicken meat to to the pot last. Let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes (enough time to cook the rice and meld the flavors of the spices together). Taste it - add additional salt or spices if you think it needs it - flavor is your best friend!

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp chilled butter
1 C milk

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

2. Cut the chilled butter into pea-sized cubes, and add to the flour.

3. With your hands, mash the flour mixture and butter until it resembles sand. Make sure there are no clumps.

4. Add the milk, stir with a spoon. 

5. Drop 1/4 C globs of the batter right into the simmering chicken soup. They will float. 

6. When you've covered the whole pot of soup with dumplings, cover and let simmer on low for 20 more minutes. DON'T remove the lid until the 20 minutes is up.

You'll thank me later. Enjoy!

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