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.

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Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

I’ve been knocked flat by a cold.  I do mean I have literally been knocked flat – getting out of bed requires a monumental amount of effort.

I need some chicken soup, but I need to be able to make it without having to stand up for too long, because that gives me the coughs.  Obviously, my slow cooker is going to save the day; recipe inspired by Eating Well.  Because what could be better for your breathing than lots (and lots) of Asian spice?

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Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skim removed
  • 8 cups chicken broth (the best stuff you have)
  • about 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • about 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 whole star anise
  • dash ground cloves
  • dash crushed reds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inches fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 1/2 package udon noodles
  • 5-6 bunches baby bok choy, washed, bottoms removed, and roughly chopped
  • fresh herbs: basil, cilantro
  • toppings: scallions, thinly sliced yellow or white onions, sriracha, fresh lime, hoisin sauce, jalapeno
  1. In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the pan, 3-4 minutes on each side, to maximize chicken flavor.
  2. In your slow cooker, combine ingredients starting with the broth and going through ginger.  Give it a quick mix and then add the chicken, meat side down.  Cook on low for about 7 hours.  Take out the chicken from the slow cooker, and remove it from the bone.  (Optional step: strain the broth for the star anise, so you don’t accidentally bite down on them later.)  When slightly cooled, shred, and add back to the cooker for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, boil water for your udon noodles and cook according to directions.
  4. With about 5-10 minutes to go, add the bok choy to the slow cooker and give it a stir.
  5. Place noodles in a bowl and ladle the chicken soup over the top.  Serve with your desired toppings – big handful of herbs, sriracha, lime juice, anything that sets your mouth on fire.

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The Verdict:

The crunch and spice of the basil, cilantro and scallions at the end are a must.  This was the first thing I’ve actually tasted in a while, so you know it tasted good.  Anything with this much heat is bound to clear up the sinuses, at least for a little while!  That being said, the Husband really dug this, too…though he thought it might be better with a little less star anise.  Would love feedback from anyone who gives it a go!

Broccoli & Cauliflower Quesadillas

One of the nicest things about living where we live is that we walk to and fro work. (I won’t lie: during the week, I get to feeling pretty self-righteous about the numbers on my Jawbone.  Of course, those numbers take a swan dive off a very high cliff on weekends, when I prioritize catching up on all my Hart of Dixie.)

Sometimes, I walk home with my friend and co-worker, K.  We spend most of the walk talking food.  Tonight, K suggested making these – inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

mostly, i'm in it for the cheese.
mostly, i’m in it for the cheese.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Quesadillas

  • 1 bag mixed broccoli & cauliflower florets
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, chili powder
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • about 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • flour tortillas
  • optional: sour cream, cilantro, avocado
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Scatter the broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large baking pan, coat with a bit of olive oil, and toss with salt, pepper, and a dash of chili powder.  Roast for about 20 minutes.
  2. As the florets roast, heat olive oil in a saute pan, add the onions and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until translucent.  Add the jalapeno and poblano peppers and cook another 5-6 minutes.
  3. When the florets are done roasting, add to a food processor and roughly pulse them just a few times – you don’t want them turning them to mush.  Add the lime juice and give a quick stir with a fork.
  4. Build your quesadilla: spread the broccoli/cauliflower mixture over one tortilla, add the onion and peppers over it, top with cheese and a couple of scallions.  Cover with one more tortilla on top.  Heat a large grill pan over medium heat and cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes before flipping – very carefully – to the other side, and cooking another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Cut into wedges and serve with a bit of sour cream (I gussied mine up with a little lime juice and cumin), cilantro, and avocado.
good times.
good times.

The Verdict:

Did I use one too many pans to make…quesadillas?  While we’re on the subject, does anyone need to use a food processor to make…quesadillas?  Yes, and absolutely not, respectively.  Still, these were delicious (although honestly, how could they not be, between veggies, cheese and carbs?!).  I think the Husband will be mighty pleased to find these in his lunch bag tomorrow.