You know that awkward moment when people ask you – When’s the wedding? or When are you moving back to California? or the worst Having any kids soon? Of course it’s not anyone’s fault for asking – that’s just the natural progression of things. But I always just want to curl up into my turtle shell and hide – I don’t have an answer. Heck – I don’t even have an idea or inkling as to how or when or where. I’ve been putting it off, mostly because – I don’t know where to begin. It’s overwhelming. I feel like other women take to this like fish to water, but I am dreading it. Sure every girl wants a princess-like wedding, but what that entails, is completely beyond me. And where am I living? Well geez, my lease is up in June, so I guess I better figure things out before then. So instead of answering, I blush bashfully, hoping to deflect further questions and wondering when I’ll have good answers.
I’ve been bragging about how beautiful the autumns are here on the east coast. Well, while driving to/from a client site last week, I saw an old wooden sign labeled “pond”, and so I made a hasty U-turn and stumbled upon this:
It’s quite stunning and so serene. Despite being right off a main road, the density of the trees seemed to mute out the sound of cars. The water barely rippled, and magnified the yellow and red reflections. These east coast autumns truly make Whitmans and Emersons of us all… And all the while, a hurricane is brewing, threatening to ruin my autumn. So this weekend, I am going to snuggle in bed with hot cocoa, hot soup, and the (SF) Giants playing in the background. This is the only way to ride out a storm.
Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup
Like with most things I make, I don’t usually have ‘healthy’ in mind – unless if you are talking about a holistic approach to health and consider (very important) factors like quality of life. Chicken soup, for example, is suppose to be almost medicinal. Bland, clear broth meant to sooth upset tummies or warm those colds. And yet I find that my soup is hearty, meaty, velvety, flavorful and not in the least bit ‘healthy’ – but it does warm a cold body and surely feeds the soul. This recipe tastes like a whole roast chicken in liquid form – the broth is flavored with fresh rosemary and thyme, sweetened by carrots and celery, and given body with the rendered chicken fat and thickened with potato. The broth is savory and darker in color from having seared the chicken meat before cooking, giving additional dimension of flavor. It’s not quite grandma’s chicken soup, but I hope you enjoy anyway.
2-3lb whole chicken, divided in parts, skin on, patted dry
2 yellow onions, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
6-7 cups water or chicken broth (or water + chicken base)
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2-3 russet potatoes, diced
2-3 stems fresh thyme
3-4 stems fresh rosemary
3-4 tsp Maggi seasoning (very similar to soy sauce but has no soy; try the European brand – red cap- if possible, the Chinese substitute just isn’t as good)
salt and pepper to taste
Cooked pasta or rice or other grain of your choice
In a large pot over medium/high heat, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once it starts to barely smoke, place chicken in bottom of pot, skin side down, and allow to brown. Rotate/flip as needed to brown evenly. The skin will render a lot of fat, but no worries – we will be fastidious in skimming all that in a little bit. To the pot, add the onion, garlic and shallot, pushing aside the chicken as necessary to caramelize the aromatics. Once translucent, cover with water or chicken broth. Submerge a bouquet of the herbs under the broth and bring to a boil for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and any herbs, then set aside.
To the pot, add the potatoes. These will take a few minutes to cook, depending on size. Bring the soup to a boil, and meticulously skim/strain the surface for fat and other ‘gunk’ that has floated to the top. I ended with more than a cup of fat and flotsam. The more meticulous you are, the clearer and cleaner the broth will be. Add the remaining vegetables (carrots and celery) and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. If you find that too much of the soup has reduced, go ahead and add a few more cups of water, and bring the soup to a boil again. Season as needed with salt. This is cheating, but I also love to add a few dashes of Maggi seasoning (only buy the bottle with the red cap), for some added oomph.
Once the chicken meat has cooled, use scissors or a pair of forks to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken meat back to the pot to re-warm. To serve, fill each bowl with a serving of cooked pasta or rice, and cover with soup. Add a crack of pepper and enjoy.
The broth of this soup is incredibly flavorful and has quite a bit of body, due to the rendered fat and potato starch. It makes the broth almost silky in texture. The herbs are quite prominent and with that smokey seared chicken skin, this is truly a roast chicken dinner but in soup form. For the new cook – chicken soup is almost impossible to mess up, so if you omit a step here and there, and go back and fix it – no harm done. I promise, it’s that easy.
Thanks for visiting & happy eats,