Sunday, March 8, 2009

Homemade Chicken Soup

When I make soup, I don't work from a recipe, and the ingredients can vary quite a bit. But this is at least approximately the way I make chicken soup, which is a wonderful comforting meal on a chilly evening. I like to make it in two stages: the first day I make the stock, strain it and refrigerate it overnight. The second day I skim the fat off the stock, shred the chicken, and make the soup. I'd like to thank my friend Julee who shared her technique of not adding the pasta or rice until time to serve!

BTW, if you don't want to take 2 days to make soup, you can certainly skip the step of refrigerating the stock overnight, but it's harder to skim off the fat.

Ingredients for day 1:

One chicken, whole or cut up
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped (with leaves)
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken into a large pan or stock pot and add enough water just to cover the chicken. Add other ingredients and simmer on low heat for 2 - 3 hours. The key is to cook it slowly. You can do this in the crockpot of course....on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Adjust seasonings if you need to, although you have another chance to do that later.

Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the stock for at least one hour. Remove chicken from stock and strain the stock through cheesecloth or a wire strainer into a large container. Refrigerate chicken and stock separately overnight.

Ingredients for day 2:

The stock and chicken from day 1
3-4 green onions, diced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4-5 cups gluten free pasta or rice, cooked

Skim any fat off the top of the refrigerated stock, and pour into large pan or stock pot. Note: it may gel overnight, this is OK! Add all of the vegetables except for the frozen peas. Simmer on medium low until the vegetables are tender. While the veggies are cooking, take the chicken off the bone and shred or cut into bite size chunks. Add the peas and mushrooms and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes. Adjust your seasonings...add another pinch or two of the herbs or more salt or pepper if needed at this point. At the last moment add the chicken and simmer for a few more minutes...just until the chicken is heated through.

To serve, put cooked pasta or rice in the soup bowls and ladle the hot soup on top. This prevents the pasta from getting gummy by cooking too long in the broth.

Enjoy with crusty gluten free bread or rolls!

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