Soup’s On Sundays / Homemade Chicken Noodle

•March 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This week our 70 degree weather took a turn for the worse, resulting in a wintery-mix forecast for tomorrow. That, coupled with the leftover chicken roast from the other night made me decide that a homemade chicken soup was really the only and best way to go this week.

Although I typically like to give my recipes a unique or unexpected twist, I really appreciate the traditional flavors and expectations that come with chicken noodle soup – and so that was my goal with this batch: A traditional chicken noodle soup that you want to crumble some saltine crackers in, curl up on the couch and sip out of a mug. The ultimate feel-good soup.

Ingredients
Leftover Whole Chicken
Water
8 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 bag Baby Carrots (sliced in quarters)
1 batch of Celery (sliced into 1/4-inch pieces)
1 large Onion (chopped)
4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1/2 bag of Egg Noodles
1/3 cup Fresh Parsley (minced)
2 tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time:
1 hour
Servings:
6-8

Kitchen Utensils
Large Soup Pot
Large Mixing Bowl
Strainer
Cooking Pan
Cutting Board
Knife
Spoon w/ Holes

Alright, let’s get this started. I filled up the large soup pot about 2/3 of the way with water and started it on medium-high on the stove. Using what was leftover from the Lemon-Rosemary Balsamic Roasted Chicken, I put the entire chicken carcass in the water and allowed it to simmer, uncovered for about an hour and a half. About halfway through, add 4-5 of the bouillon cubes. This is the part that infuses the soup with all the nutrients and vitamins that gives Chicken Noodle its infamous healing powers. You can skip this step by using chicken stock, but allowing the chicken to soften and fall off the bone adds flavor that you just won’t get with store-bought stock.

Next, remove the pot from the stove and strain the stock into the large mixing bowl. You should have all the bones and meat sitting in the strainer. Using your hands, pick the good meat out of this pile and put back into the mixing bowl with the stock. Discard all bones, gristle and fatty pieces – pretty much anything you wouldn’t want to bite into while enjoying the soup. Cover the stock/meat and refrigerate. This allows the fat to congeal on the top of the stock so that when you’re ready to finish cooking, you can skim it off with the spoon that has holes. Discard the fat.

Transfer the stock with the meat back into the large soup pot and start cooking over medium-high heat.

Also, start the cooking pan on medium heat and add the butter to the pan. After the butter has melted, add your sliced carrots, celery, garlic and onion and sauté for approximately 8 minutes, or until the onions are transluscent. Add the vegetables to the stock and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to medium and continue to simmer until vegetables are tender (about 30-45 minutes). Stirring occasionally. Here’s where you’re going to want to start sampling the soup. Not enough flavor? Add the remaining bouillon cubes. Salt and pepper to taste.

After the vegetables are tender and you’ve reached your desired flavor profile, add the egg noodles and continue cooking until pasta is tender (about 10 minutes). [Note: You can add as much or as little noodle as you’d like] When the pasta is nearly finished, add the minced parsely and stir.

What you should end up with is traditional, hearty chicken noodle soup. Serve immediately with bread or crackers, or feel free to refrigerate/freeze for later. Either way, it’s a great pick-me-up on a chilly day or when you feel like your immune system needs a little boost.

Perfect for a healthy lunch: Homemade chicken noodle soup served with a garlic baguette.

Lemon-Rosemary Balsamic Roasted Chicken w/ Potatoes

•March 26, 2011 • 1 Comment

So last night was a true testament to my cooking skills. I always trust my palate, my skill set however, is still a work in progress. Proteins also tend to intimidate me, so this was definitely an interesting challenge.

All in all, the chicken came out juicy and tender, potatoes were flavor-filled (and voted the best part of the meal) and I added asparagus to add some green to the meal. Let me preface the ingredients list by saying that I pretty much eye-balled everything last night, and therefore the following list will primarily be estimations.

Ingredients
1 Whole Chicken (5-6 lbs.)
Fresh Rosemary
2 Lemons
1.5 cups Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
6-8 Red Potatoes (skin on, cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 large Onion (diced into small cubes)
5 Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Prep Time: <10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Servings: 3-4

Kitchen Utensils
Large baking pan
Knife
Cutting board
Large Bowl
Small Bowl

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. [Note: This may vary depending on the strength of your oven, I actually used 410 degrees].

Wash and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and put in the large bowl. Next, you’ll want to remove the leaves from approximately two or three rosemary sprigs and add them to the potatoes. Chop three garlic cloves into fair-sized chunks (no need to mince) and add them and the diced onion to the potatoes. BUT, be sure to reserve about a cup of the diced onion to the side for later. Now, drizzle the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and spread the potatoes out evenly in the large baking pan. This will be the “rack” – so to speak – for your chicken.

Let’s get to the marinade. Combine the balsamic, dijon mustard and a tablespoon of olive oil in the small bowl and whisk with a fork. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze each half into the bowl as well. Continue mixing. Remove the leaves from one sprig of rosemary and mince as finely as possible and add to the marinade. Feel free to add salt and pepper to this as well, then set aside.

On to the bird! Remove the plastic, packaging and the innards from inside the chicken. Next you’ll want to use your hand or a knife to disconnect the skin from the chicken. Do NOT remove it, just make sure you’re able to fit your hand under the skin, as this is where you’ll be putting some of the marinade. Now, cut your other lemon in half and insert the halves into the chicken. Also insert a few rosemary sprigs, the cup of diced onion you reserved earlier and two halved cloves of garlic. Place the chicken on the bed of potatoes in the large baking pan.

Now for the flavor. Mix the marinade one more time. Lift up the loosened skin on the chicken and pour about half of the marinade inside. Massage the top of the skin and make sure the balsamic mixture is spread evenly. Take the remaining marinade and pour over the top of the chicken. Again, feel free to use your hands to rub in the mixture thoroughly. Last step, take a look at the potatoes and if necessary, drizzle a bit more olive oil over the potatoes. What you end up with should look like this:

Mmm yeah, look at that bird!

Stuffed with rosemary sprigs, two lemon halves, three large garlic cloves and a bit of onion.

Alright, let’s pop that entire pan into the pre-heated oven and set the time for one hour. After an hour, you’ll want to cut open the chicken or use a thermometer to see if it’s done. If not, cook for another 15 minutes and re-check. You’re looking for the the color to be completely white – no pink – and to be able to easily slip a fork into the meat.

When all is said and done you should have a chicken with a slightly crispy skin, plenty of juices soaked into the meat on a bed of roasted balsamic potatoes and onion. Voila!

YUM!

Look at that color, both outside and inside. That's what you're aiming for.

Soup’s On Sundays / Loaded Baked Potato Soup

•March 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

March 20, 2011

This was my first time making a loaded baked potato soup & also the first cream-based soup I’ve attempted. And let me tell you, I’ll absolutely be cataloging this in my recipe book. My favorite part? The garnishes. They add texture, flavor and actually elevate the dish instead of functioning purely as decoration. What you’ll end up with is a thick and chunky soup full of all the bold flavors you’d expect from a loaded baked potato. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:
10 Slices Bacon (chopped)
6 medium Russet Potatoes (scrubbed and diced into 3/4 inch cubes)
1 large Onion (chopped)
2 medium Garlic Cloves (minced to about 2 teaspoons)
2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
4 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
1.5 cups Heavy Cream
1 sprig fresh Thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 pound shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
1 cup Sour Cream (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
3 Scallions or Green Onion (sliced thin)
Salt and Pepper

Prep Time: ~10 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Servings: 10-12

Kitchen Utensils:
Large Soup Pot
Cutting Board
Knife
Peeler (optional)
Blender
Large Spoon w/ Holes
Plate
Napkin/Paper Towels

Before we jump into the bacon, I will say that I’m not the fastest peeler, so I got an early start removing the potato peels in wide strips (hold onto these). About halfway through, I threw the bacon in the large soup pot over medium-high heat. You’ll want to turn it occasionally with a fork until it has crisped up.

Finishing up the remainder of the potatoes while the bacon was cooking, I continued to cut the potatoes into 3/4-inch cubes. I then removed the bacon from the soup pot and transferred it to a plate lined with paper towels to soak in the additional grease. Now what you should be looking at is a soup pot with lots of hot bacon grease in the bottom – and this is exactly what you want. Throw the reserved potato peels into the grease and let them crisp up. When they’re finished, add them to the plate with the bacon to cool and blot with another paper towel.

Next, add the chopped onion to the remaining fat in the pot and cook until golden. Add the garlic, stir in the flour and mix well for about a minute. This is the part where it actually turns into a soup:
While whisking constantly, gradually add the chicken stock and cream to the pot. Continue whisking for a minute or two and then add the thyme (I used dried thyme and it worked great) and potatoes. Bump the heat up to high, add about 2-3 tbsps of salt (depending on what you like) and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until potatoes are tender. [Note: If you used a thyme sprig, it’s time to remove it from the pot]

Now for the texture… I prefer my cream-based coups to be on the thicker side with chunks of potato throughout to break up each bite. That being said, I used the large spoon with holes to transfer about 5 scoops of the potatoes into the blender. After pureeing, I added them back into the soup immediately. This is a great way for each cook to achieve their personal desired consistency and monitor it along the way. If you want a smooth soup, puree everything in the pot – and you may want to do it in batches.

Alright, last step! I hope you’ve been tasting the soup along the way, make sure your salt level is where you want it and the consistency is exactly what you’re looking for. Remove the pot from heat, and stir in the cheese until completely melted, then add the sour cream. While you’re giving it a second to absorb the flavors, chop up the bacon into little pieces, and you may want to do the same with the potato peels. Finally, serve garnished with potato skins, reserved bacon and scallions – you can also garnish with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

Loaded baked potato soup garnished with potato skins, bacon and green onion.

This turned out to be a hearty, filling soup that really plays well to cooler weather. Leftovers the next day were just as satisfying, despite the fact that the potato skins garnish did lose a bit of its crunch. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Soup’s On Sundays / Garden Veggie Noodle Soup

•March 22, 2011 • 1 Comment

March 13, 2011

So I’m trying out something new: Every Sunday I will be making a soup that I can then bring into the office on Monday to taste-test it with the masses (lucky Modeans). I’m back-tracking a little bit with this entry, as I made this last Sunday, but I didn’t get the motivation to pick up this blog again until an hour or two ago.

Anyway, I’ve had this recipe for awhile, but last week I did something a little different and it ended up bringing the soup from a 7 or 8 to a sure 9, probably 10 (if I do say so myself). What you’ll end up with is a light, but flavor-filled soup that should taste healthy and garden-fresh. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:
Olive Oil
1 Onion (sliced)
4-5 Garlic Cloves (minced)
~2 cups Egg Noodles
Sriracha (to taste)
32 oz. Vegetable Stock
32 oz. Beef Stock (you can use all vegetable or sub chicken, which you’d prefer)
12 oz. Tomato Sauce
12 oz. Diced Tomatoes
12 oz. Garbanzo Beans (drained)
1/2 lb. Okra (sliced)
1/2 bunch of Collard Greens, 6-7 leaves (chopped)
2 small Zucchini (sliced and halved)
1 yellow Squash (sliced and halved)
1/2 carton of Mushrooms (sliced)
Salt & Pepper (of course)

Prep Time: <10 minutes
Cook Time:
25 minutes
Servings: 10-12

Kitchen Utensils:
Large Soup Pot
Medium Pot
Strainer
Cutting Board
Stirring Spoon
Knife

Alright, I’ll start off by saying that any of the ingredients that are italicized are things I’ve added to suit my personal taste and can definitely be modified as you see fit. Now, to get started, I always like to do all my cutting, chopping, slicing and mincing up front. That way I can pay more attention to the way the food is cooking and the scent and flavor, as well. For me, cooking is all about the details.

Let’s start with the noodles. Fill the medium pot about 1/2 full with water and add a teaspoon or so of salt to the water. After it comes to a rolling boil, add the egg noodles and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Drain the water and leave the noodles in the strainer for later use.

To begin the soup, cover the entire bottom of the large soup pot in a very thin layer of olive oil and put on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until golden. Now, add about 10 or so dashes of the sriracha sauce and continue sauté until almost brown. It’s important to note that the sriracha shouldn’t make the soup spicy, but instead the right amount should create a slight warming sensation on the palate following the bite; which is exactly what people are looking for from soup on a chilly day.

Next you’ll turn up the heat to medium-high and add the stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and garbanzo beans and bring it to a boil. This is where I like to incorporate the majority of the salt and pepper, as well. [Note: I like to add more garbanzo beans than the recipe calls for because I really like the texture they add to the soup, up to you]

Vegetable noodle soup in the works.

After it’s boiling, go ahead and add the okra, collard greens, zucchini, squash and mushroom. [Note: You can use 1 large zucchini instead of yellow squash if you’re partial to zuc, however bringing the yellow into the soup really increases the aesthetic appeal]. Lower the heat back to medium and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally. You’ll know it’s finished cooking when all your vegetables, specifically the collard greens, have softened. If you chose to include the noodles, now’s the best time to throw them in the mix. Make sure you taste the broth, and add salt/pepper as you see fit.

Now, this soup is great hot and right out of the pot, but for best results I suggest letting it sit in the fridge overnight. I guarantee that the garden flavors are even more robust and the texture improves after chilling in the fridge. Warm it back up and serve with sliced Italian bread and butter. Great for a fall or spring day.

[Final Note: I was too over-anxious about this soup and didn’t take a picture of the finished product. I promise I will try to have better documentation moving forward.]

Welcome, here’s what you should expect to find.

•March 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So this will be my first post on my once idle, newly renovated blog and it’s now going to focus on what it was meant for in the first place: food.

It’s sincerely one of the truest loves of my life and I believe that calling it a passion would surely be an understatment. Admittedly, I’m more of a food advocate. I live it, I support it, I encourage it, I spread its messages to the masses and all because of the deep-rooted satisfaction it has brought to every corner of my life. So many of the moments that have made my life worthwhile were centered around food and sharing. And that’s why I had to do this…

I’m talking about food and I’m sharing in hopes that these recipes reach one or two people willing to give them a shot, and then they get to sit around with their friends and family commenting on, savoring and conversating with the food. Because, let’s face it…

Life is so much better when the food tastes good.