Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Quilter's Soul

I think the most frequent answers to my question about the "image" on the outside of the pot were either Elvis or an alien. That's really funny because I was originally thinking it looked like an alien wearing a stand-up collar like Elvis. Great minds, huh?!

Anywho, several of you asked about my chicken soup recipe. It's really simple and there are a variety of ways to make it. I'll recap the ingredients at the end but be aware that some of this isn't very specific as far as size or amount.

I start with a chicken. (Yeah, I know--seems obvious, doesn't it? But read on!)

The chicken might be a naked, raw, whole bird. It might be what's left of the carcass after we've eaten a roasted chicken dinner. Or it might be what's left of a STORE BOUGHT roasted whole chicken. Whatever kind of chicken you have will probably work. Even pieces. Whenever we end up with a chicken carcass, chicken soup is sure to follow!

When I roast a chicken, I fill the cavity with cubed up onions, carrots, and celery. For your soup, you'll want those things too--one large onion, a few ribs of celery, and a handful or two of those little carrots in the bag that are already cleaned and peeled (or clean and peel your own--you'll probably want about two carrots). If you're starting with roast chicken leftovers and the cavity is stuffed with the veggies like I do it, no need to add more--just dump the whole thing in the pot.

Put your chicken in a pot large enough to hold the bird comfortably. Throw in the veggies. Add about two cups of water and one LARGE can of chicken broth--or an equivalent amount of chicken broth in the paper cartons. One way or another, you'll want around 40 to 50 ounces of chicken broth. The liquid should cover the chicken carcass.

Simmer all that together, uncovered, on a low or medium low heat, for about an hour to an hour and a half--long enough for the chicken bones to start to fall apart easily. Strain it all to separate the broth from the other "stuff" and return the broth to the pot. If the broth seems to have oil floating on the surface, spoon it off, although I don't usually end up with oily broth unless I start with a whole chicken with the skin on--then I might need to spoon off oil. While the other "stuff" cools, heat the broth to boiling or near boiling.

Whisk in 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (you can use low fat, salt free, or plain old regular cream of chicken soup--whatever you like)--just open the cans and add the condensed soup. Add some seasoning--I have a seasoning made by McNess called Soup Pot that I like. I'm not certain what's in it (they just say "herbs"), but if you don't have this seasoning, add some dried parsley, salt and pepper, dried rosemary, and a little sage--or you could add some dried parsley, salt and pepper, and some poultry seasoning. Taste it every now and then to see if what you're adding tastes good and is seasoned enough.

Also at this point--those veggies you cooked and removed? You won't be adding those back. So if you want veggies in your soup, dice them and add them now. Simmer the soup until they're cooked. Add veggies you LIKE--you know what they taste like, and that's pretty much what they're going to taste like in a soup. Softer veggies that don't take much cooking or may already be cooked, like frozen veggies, can be added at the end before serving. Sometimes I add veggies, but most of the time I don't. Also, if you don't think you have enough meat left on the carcass, you can add chicken at this point. For the batch I just made, I tossed in two chicken breasts and after they cooked, I pulled them out and shredded them, then I returned the meat to the pot.

Now, if you want to add pasta of some sort, you'll need to cook it separately from the soup. I like a pasta that's kind of substantial and will hold up but won't overwhelm the soup. Bow tie, Ziti, egg noodles--like that. Don't overcook the pasta because it will continue to cook after you've drained it and added it to the soup. Add a little less than you think you want because it will also continue to expand and soak up soup. I tend to forget this part!

By around this time, all that "stuff" you separated out has had a chance to cool enough to start to handle. Remove the meat from the bones and add it back to the pot. Throw the rest out.

Sometimes I'll add some Parmesan or other cheese to the soup. For instance, this time I grabbed a handful of shredded cheddar we had in the fridge, tossed it in, and stirred until it melted. Parmesan is best, though. You can also just sprinkle some on when you serve it. Or don't add cheese--it's really not necessary.

So that's about it. Not very exact, but it usually turns out tasting just about the same every time I make it except for the variation on veggies. Here's a recap of the ingredients to have on hand, not including the seasonings:

Chicken (something with bones--that's where the flavor comes from)
"Extra" chicken if there's not enough meat left on the bones
40 to 50 ounces of Chicken Broth
2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
Pasta (probably about 8 ounces uncooked)
Veggies--if you want, what you want
Cheese, maybe

Really, it may sound like a lot of work, but it's super simple--most of the time, I'm busy quilting between each step and it seems like the soup practically makes itself. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I'll be happy to answer--if you're "no-reply" I'll also post a comment to answer your question. Happy eating!


Cara said...

oopsy, I deleted your reply, it hit the spam filter, before I got a chance to read it. Sorry!

Orcsmom said...

Sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing.


Rita said...

Thanks for the recipe. I'm definitely going to try this.

Kris said...

Thanks for that! I am a soup lover and am always looking for new variations on a soup theme! (Your soup just looks so delicious)

Gran said...

It is a rainy day here and I have a couple of chicken breasts in the freezer that are asking to come out and play. Chicken soup it is - following your recipe as best I can find in the cupboards and the refrigerator. Great post and idea Kim!.