Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chicken Soup à Dad

It's the time of year when you need every advantage you can get against the germs and bugs that want to get you down. Here's a medicinal classic made the way my Dad used to make it, once in a while when he was allowed to take over the whole kitchen for an entire day. It's one of a couple of all-day, go-for-broke recipes that dwell in the upper stories of my Comfort Food Pantheon. And so, I turn the floor over to Cuda:
Remember: I cook without a lot of measuring, go by taste and smell and adjust on the fly.

  • an entire chicken (for a lot of soup)
    • just the breasts (if you are making 4-5 quarts of soup)
    • or the dark meat if your prefer—it is a matter of taste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Various spices—I would use:
    • Cumin
    • a touch of Rosemary
    • Caraway
    • Basil
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Thyme
  • one whole Onion
  • several cloves of garlic, or a couple of teaspoons of chopped garlic (from a jar)
  • celery
  • carrots
  • flour
  • egg
I like to start with a whole chicken (as purchased in the grocery store, not with feathers and innards). Clean out the body cavities. Cut the chicken up into legs, thighs, back, breast, wings, etc.

Fill a large pan with water—15 quart if you have it; smaller if you don’t, but big enough to make a lot of soup. Leave room at the top of the pan for the water to rise as you add chicken and other ingredients.

Cook chicken in the water thoroughly—skin on. Remove the chicken pieces, remove the skin from the pieces and discard the skin. De-bone the meat and dice it to desired size of meat pieces by personal preference—about a half inch on a side works for me. Put the meat back into the broth.

Add a lot of salt—to taste, but it takes a lot of salt in a lot of liquid, less in less liquid. I add pepper copiously. Other spices are added by the principle of opening the spice up, smelling it (or tasting) and if seems like it would be good in chicken soup I add some. Other spicing is done by taste as the soup progresses.

Chop the Onion and add it. Add garlic, diced or chopped. Use Onion powder and garlic powder—add to taste. Chop several stalks celery and add to the soup. Chop carrots and add to the soup. Cook at a simmer for an hour.

Cool soup to room temperature (or refrigerate). Scoop out fat, which will rise to the top, and discard. Re-heat soup to a boil. As it approaches a boil, taste and season as it seems to need seasoning.

While the soup is re-heating, take a cup of flour, add an egg, preferably without the shell, and mix into a dough, adding a pinch of salt. You can use water to speed the process, but the water makes and inferior egg-noodle. If you want more noodles, use more egg and more flour. My working principle is "the more noodles, the better".

Roll the dough out flat and fairly thin (1/8 of an inch). Cut the dough into strips. I use a pizza cutter for that purpose, although a knife or kitchen scissors work too. Width is by personal choice: 1/4 inch to 1 inch wide. Cut length of noodles to about five inches (also personal choice).

When soup is boiling gently, add noodles and allow them to cook for ten or fifteen minutes. You can add any vegetables to the soup you wish to add. I prefer mine with just celery and carrots. Serve.
Mmmmm, I can just about smell the stock cooking... feel my teeth biting through those thick, full-bodied noodles... and hear my Dad grumbling about how somebody keeps moving the utensil he was about to use. Alas, Dad doesn't get to cook very often because he and Stepmom have different views on kitchen hygiene and, frankly, it's her turf. I could use a bucket of this soup right now, though!

1 comment:

Cuda said...

They want to make enough for left-overs. Leftover Chicken soup is fabulous.