Recipe Sketchbook: Chicken Soup (For The Soul)

100219-demian-chicken-soup-1I spent last Sunday afternoon with A Razor, A Shiny Knife experimenting with chicken recipes and making stock with the leftover bones.  I had so much fun that it inspired me to make my own chicken stock when I got home.  And from that came the chicken soup shown above.  Which, I gotta say, was the best dern chicken soup I have ever made.  Maybe even better than my grandmothers’.  Or your grandmothers’ for that matter. (totally kidding! Your grandmother is awesome)

Usually chicken noodle soup has chunks of stuff haphazardly mixed with a bunch of egg noodles in some broth.  For this soup I wanted to be careful to keep every ingredient in small uniform pieces.  This would give each spoonful the potential to have a bit of every ingredient represented in it.  Not just a big chunk of stringy chicken and some broth.  Or a piece of carrot, a bit of over-cooked noodle and some broth.  You get the idea.  But first to the stock!

I began by butchering the chicken.  I set aside the breasts for some dish the boss wanted to make.  I then roasted the carcass bones and the wings in the oven until they were nicely browned.  I also roasted a bunch of medium diced (1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1/2″) carrots, celery and onions until they were starting to brown.  I would have liked some leeks somewhere in the mix also but I didn’t have any.  Oh well. 

When the roasting was done I threw it all into a pot of salted water with a bunch of aromatics including a bay leaf, a couple sprigs of thyme, about twenty pepper corns, and a mushed garlic clove or two.  I also put in the legs and thighs that I had reserved from butchering to let them poach.  After about an hour on the stove I let it cool, put it in the fridge, finished my vodka tonic and went to bed.

In the morning I strained the chicken liquor, first cleaning the fat off of the top and tossing the spent veg but reserving the chicken pieces and any bits of meat I could pick out.  I picked the meat from the carcass and other various bones and then diced it.  I put the meat into a pot along with the strained stock and heated it again.  Into this I threw the small diced (1/4″ x 1/4″ x 1/4″) carrots, celery and onions to be used for the soup.  As well as some salt, pepper and a bit more water to make it sufficiently soup-like.  After cooking long enough that the veg was almost tender I added about 40% of a box of orzo and let that cook for another ten minutes until it was done.  At which time I threw in some chopped parsley to sex it up and finish it off.  The verdict?  Awesome.

The secret to a great chicken soup is all about two things: a good quality chicken and roasting the bones beforehand to build their flavor profile.  A couple steps but relatively easy.  And super delicious. Guaranteed to kick any cold!