Homemade Chicken Soup.

Today was a day of reckoning.

I’ve never made honest-to-goodness chicken soup.  Crockpot soup, immersion blender soup, roasted vegetable soup, sure.  But the kind of soup my mom made when I was sick as a kid?  That kind of soup is sacred territory, the kind only a mom knows how to traverse.

Then, the Husband woke up with the cold I had all last week.  And despite ribbing him occasionally on the interwebs, I think I’m a pretty good wife/dance partner/roommate.  After all, he deserves that – he’s a pretty good husband/dance partner/roommate, too.  So I busted out the recipe book I received for my bridal shower – full of handwritten recipe cards from the best moms I know: mine, my husband’s, my surrogate aunts (aka my mom’s besties), and my husband’s aunts.

This chicken soup was inspired by my mom’s BFF, J – in fact, inspired (but not duplicated) by her mom’s recipe.  I’m not even going to wait to give the verdict on this one: it.was.awesome.

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Homemade Chicken Soup

  • olive oil
  • s&p
  • 2 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 10 or so sprigs fresh thyme
  • large handful whole black peppercorns
  • about 5 stalks fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 3-5 slices fresh jalapeno (depending on your level of tolerance for heat)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 package long noodles
  • optional: Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, escarole
  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then sear on both sides, about 3 minutes each side.  Add enough stock/water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil.  Strain the grayish top layer that appears (will make your broth less cloudy).
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, jalapeno and all herbs.  If you’re feeling fancy, tie them together to make a little bouquet garni – this will make it easier to remove it at the end.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook until chicken is done, about an hour.  Every so often, strain the top layer again.
  3. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Remove the herbs and discard.  (Make sure to taste your broth and season accordingly!)  Shred the chicken from the bone and add the meat back to the pot.  Add a spritz of lemon and stir.
  4. Boil water for pasta and cook according to directions; place a small amount at the bottom of large individual bowls.  Ladle the soup over the pasta and serve with additional fresh parsley.  Feel your sinuses open up for a brief, glorious moment.

IMG_3242The Verdict:

See above.  J, I hope I did you proud.

(My Mom’s) Beef Bourgouignon

 

 

The lack of a Sunday/Monday planning post this week is no accident: this is a fly-by-the-seat-of-our pants kind of week.  Chez nous, there is no real nightly dinner plan, as I had no real grocery list when my mom (YAY for moms who visit!) and I hit Trader Joe’s this weekend.  We had one thing, and one thing only, on our minds:  making this mind-blowingly delicious beef bourguignon.  (My mom nixed my idea for (another) veggie tart, declaring that the Husband “needs” more protein.  Didn’t you see our quinoa dinner, Mom!?)

Of course, this stew comes straight from my mom’s head; no need for recipes there.  I’ve laid out a rough guide below – but feel free to tweak for your eating pleasure.

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My Mom’s Beef Bourgouignon

  • olive oil
  • a couple of tablespoons of butter
  • 3 pounds beef (cut into stew-sized chunks)
  • S&P
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cartons mushrooms
  • pearl onions
  • flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups (or even a whole bottle) red wine
  • a bit of water, as needed
  • parsley, for serving
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over high heat.  Saute the beef until browned.  On a separate plate, sprinkle flour, salt and pepper; transfer beef on to the plate and add flour, S&P in layers.
  2. In the Dutch oven, saute the celery, carrots and onion over medium heat, until translucent.  Add the garlic, cook for a minute or two, and then add mushrooms and tomato paste and cook through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the beef back to the pot and pour in white wine.  Reduce the wine by half and then add pearl onions, red wine, bay leaf, and thyme.  Bring to a boil before reducing the heat; cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  4. Adjust the seasonings as you see fit, top with fresh parsley, and serve with fresh crusty bread (and CHEESE, of course).

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The Verdict:

It was a sad day when my mom (and sister) left – but they did leave behind a trail of delicious food in our refrigerator! Word to the wise: this is even better after a few days, when the flavors have had a chance to come together (and the meat has had a chance to break down and become more tender.)

 

Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup

I wore my pajamas inside out to bed last night.  The Husband just gave me a strange look.

But.

It worked.

Today we have our first glorious snow day of the season.  For where we live, it’s real snow, too – enough to make a snow ball, enough to cover our car, and enough to shut down the city.  The Hubs and I are just sitting on our computers, working, drinking tea, and contemplating when we’ll go for a walk through this wonderland.  Life is good, and it requires soup.

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Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, plus a little more
  • 2 cups green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken stock & 1 cup water
  • 1 smocked ham hock
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and then cook the carrots, onion, and celery with a little bit of salt and pepper, about 5 minutes.  Add about a tablespoon or two of white wine to dislodge any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Transfer the veggies to a slow cooker and add the split peas, stock, 1 cup wine, 1 cup water, ham hock and thyme sprigs.  Cover and cook on low about 9 hours.
  3. Remove the ham hock – and if you like, pull of the meat.  Discard skin, bone, and cartilage.  Remove the thyme sprigs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with a little bit of crumbled bacon/prosciutto/chorizo, if you’re going the decadent route.

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The Verdict:

“This looks like baby food,” says the Husband skeptically.  “But it tastes a whole lot better.”

Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Spinach

That moment when you’ve come back from a trip and it’s freezing and the idea of putting on your coat and going to the grocery store and lugging those groceries home and just, no, no, you just can’t?  That’s the moment for this soup, inspired by my fridge…and the Kitchn.  Every single ingredient was already in my fridge or my pantry- and is likely in yours, too.  And if not? Just substitute in the veggies that are.

so many veggies in one pot!
so many veggies in one pot!

Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Spinach

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 ribs celery, diced
  • optional: any other leftover vegetables you might have laying about – I threw in some yellow bell pepper, which was lovely
  • 1 onion, diced
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds (you know, the essentials)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about a cup red lentils, rinsed and picked
  • about 4-6 cups broth and/or water, if you don’t have broth…more or less depending on how “soupy” you like your soup
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • dash cumin
  • large handful kale
  • large handful spinach
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • optional toppings: Greek yogurt, cilantro, parsley, etc.
  1. Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery, & onions, add a good pinch of salt, a dash of pepper & crushed reds, and cook gently – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for a minute or two, then add the lentils, give them a quick toss with the veggies, and add the broth, bay leaf, and a dash of cumin.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat.  Simmer with the cover on, about 12 minutes.
  4. Add the kale and spinach, stir through, and then cover and simmer another 8-10 minutes.
  5. Removing the soup from the heat, add the lemon juice, ladle into bowls and serve with your desired toppings.
so good & so good for you.
so good & so good for you.

The Verdict:

So healthy, so wallet friendly, so quick and easy.  What’s not to love?

Welcome Home Cassoulet

The Husband and I came home to my parents’ last night, where the food feast has already begun.  My parents now live about 2 1/2 hours from the airport, so by the time we got in, we were very, very hungry.  My mom had this cassoulet – really just a rich, white bean-based stew – waiting for us in the fridge.  Add a salad, some crusty bread, a wedge of blue cheese, and a (few) glasses of wine, and this was more than a meal – it was a celebration.

Welcome Home Cassoulet

  • about 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 4 celery sticks, grated
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • optional: about a pound of chicken or pork sausage, crumbled (my dad pretty much insists it’s not a meal without meat)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 15 oz cans of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • about a cup of dry white wine
  • vegetable bouillon and 4 cups water OR 4 cups veggie broth
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • a large handful parsley, chopped
  • large handful basil, chopped
  • a good dash black pepper
  • a good dash red pepper flakes (even though my mom says this is “so not French”)
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute onions, carrots and celery, until softened.
  2. If using meat, this is a good time to add it, making sure it crumbles all the way through.
  3. Add garlic, saute a minute or two, and then add beans, wine, spices and the veggie broth/bouillon + water.
  4. Bring the stew to a boil and then turn down the heat; cover and simmer for an hour minimum.  NOTE: This is even better reheated, when the different elements have had a chance to come together.
welcome home, love mom.
welcome home, love mom.

The Verdict:

Whether it was the flavors melding together in the fridge, our hunger, or just the fact that it was so nice to taste my mom’s cooking again, the cassoulet was amazing.  Credit for the original recipe goes to one of my dad’s business partners.  YUM.