Monday, March 29, 2010

Chicken stock and humble chicken soup

Have you ever looked in your vegetable crisper and noticed some things that were bit past their fresh-eating prime? Perhaps few limp stalks of celery and some skinny parsnips from the time you bought 4 pounds, overestimating just how many things you'd make with them? One of the things I ordered during the last co-op shopping cycle was a package of chicken parts so I could make fresh chicken stock and use up my stash of sad veggies. I also ordered some sweet winter-dug carrots, which I was excited to use in this recipe. The colors in my 2 lbs ranged from white with green, to orangey-purple and pale peach to brilliant orange. So cool!

Even though the weather is warming up around here, comfort food like chicken noodle soup never goes out of style.

I made homemade stock one other time in my life, and it made enough of an impression for me to make a note in my cookbook (The Eat-Clean Diet for Family & Kids) that it was worth the effort. So when I picked up my frozen chicken pieces mid-week, I put them right into the fridge to thaw so the stock could get made this weekend. If you decide to make this soup, allow yourself the weekend (or a similar stretch of time) because it is fairly labor-intensive, given the chopping, simmering, and cooling times involved.

Chicken Soup - Humble But Divine
from The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids by Tosca Reno
Yield: 10 cups

Ingredients for stock:
1 5lb chicken carcass
Water to cover the chicken, about 10-12 cups
2 onions, peeled and cut into chunks
4 ribs celery, chopped (include leaves if you have them)
2 thick sweet carrots, cut into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
5 cloves garlic, whole
5 bay leaves
1 Tbsp sea salt

Preparation for stock:
1. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat. Place lid on pot, allowing steam to escape, and simmer 2-3 hours over low heat. Let cool.

Place pot in the fridge for a few hours to allow the fat to congeal on top of the liquid.

2. Remove the congealed fat, return the stock to stove and bring to a boil. Once the gelatin has liquiefied, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and into another soup pot.

Discard cooked vegetables; remove meat from chicken bones to use in the soup.

Ingredients for soup:
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, cleaned and chopped
4 Brussels sprouts, chopped fine
1 cup orzo pasta
Handful fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 low-sodium chicken bouillon cubes

Preparation for soup:
1. Add chopped vegetables, orzo, and bouillon cubes to prepared stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables and pasta are tender.

2. Correct soup flavor with sea salt and black pepper. Serve hot.

I started the stock on Saturday afternoon, chilled it overnight, and made the soup for our dinner on Sunday evening. Like I said above--give yourself time to make this one!

Using rice noodles in place of orzo, egg noodles, or other pasta makes the soup safe for The H (and anyone else with a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance). Breaking them inside a zip-top bag keeps your kitchen free of sharp noodle shards, which your bare feet will appreciate... trust me. I cooked them separately and added to the soup about 2 minutes before it was done.

I do not know why the greens (shredded sprouts and parsley) float at first. Rest assured, it all comes together and looks like real soup eventually!

I added 1/4 teaspoon of poultry seasoning when I seasoned to-taste at the end. Even the little guy was into it. I added a scoop of precooked quinoa (from my lunch on Friday) to his bowl to help cool it down and give it a little protein boost. He loves quinoa!

He really did enjoy it--just preferred to eat it off his plate instead of from the bowl.

Nutritional information per 1 cup serving:
Calories - 119
Fat - 1g
Protein - 8.5g
Carbs - 20g
Fiber - 2g
Sodium - 500mg
Cholesterol - 10mg

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