January 25, 2012
This past week it’s been rainy and my little one has been home with a cold. Which translates to staying home, cuddling up and making a batch of our house chicken soup. It’s warm, comforting, clean and delicious and always hits the spot.
Especially on sick days, I know it’s easy to reach for the canned soup— I get it, it’s quick and flavorful. But this homemade soup is so tasty and fresh; you won’t believe the difference and your family will love you for this version. For the basic recipe, we serve it in a mug with a wedge of lemon on the side— honestly, I think it’s the cure for any ailment.
Maybe it’s the tiger in me, but I’m completely taken with Chinese New Year celebrating. I’ve dusted off my wok, been nibbling wasabi peas and re-stocked my pantry with fresh water chestnuts and a fresh bottle of sesame seed oil. When I was making soup for my cold-laden cutie (that’s sound much nicer than hacking kid) I was inspired to try an Asian twist: adding cilantro, sliced shitake, green onions and noodles. It was so good, so good, I really don’t know how else to say it, except maybe, go make it right now?
Here is the basic recipe. Feel free to freelance.
Homemade Chicken Soup
1 half chicken cut up and skin removed (or two chicken breast halves, bone-in, no skin)
12 cups water
3 cloves of garlic whole
1 onion quartered
2 stalks of celery (chopped in 3 pieces each)
2 carrots (chopped in 3 pieces each)
3 laurel/bay leaves
1 bouquet of parsley or cilantro
Salt to taste (don’t be shy with the salt!)
An assortment of raw veggies, thinly sliced, and fresh herbs. In the winter months we like celery, carrots, green beans and garden herbs like fresh parsley, cilantro and if we’re feeling daring, lemon verbena.
Put the first 8 ingredients to a large stockpot, bring to a boil (high heat) and then reduce to simmer (medium-high heat). Simmer for 25-30 minutes, skimming from time to time and seasoning as needed. Once chicken is cooked through, scoop out chicken pieces and remove the meat from the bone. Chop chicken into large pieces and reserve. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and discard the cooked veggies and herbs.
Put the broth back on the stove, taste for seasoning — chances are you might need to add about a handful of kosher salt. Now add in your choice of thinly sliced veggies and cook until desired doneness (this should take just a few minutes). Add the chicken for the last few minutes to warm it through and serve.
For an Asian twist:
After straining the broth, return it to a boil on the stove. Add two packages of unflavored Raman noodles—you can get the flavored kind and just throw away the little seasoning packet. Hakubaku makes the best organic dried noodles, including ramen, I found them at Cost Plus World Market. Stir periodically while that cooks, it’ll take about three minutes. For your garnish, thinly slice six shitake mushrooms and four green onions, sliced thin on the bias (diagonal) and a few fresh cilantro leaves. When the Raman is cooked, stir in the chicken, and then pour into bowls. Sprinkle the raw mushroom, onion and cilantro and stir in about 1/2 tsp. of Sambal Oelek chili paste to each bowl (the chili paste is spicy so use it at your own discretion). Enjoy!