Since I have officially declared 2015 the “Year of Soup” (and soft foods), it only seemed appropriate to talk about soup making today. I deemed 2014 the “Year of the Margarita”, yet I spent most of the year needing a margarita instead of enjoying one, so that didn’t go as planned. Soup seems pretty tame so surely we can’t go wrong.
The key to great chicken noodle soup lies in the chicken broth. While I frequently use canned broth in my cooking endeavors, only homemade broth will do when it comes to chicken noodle soup.
- whole chicken, innards removed
- 4-6 carrots
- 2 large onions, one stuck with 2 cloves
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 leek
- bouquet garni (12 parsley stems, 8 peppercorns, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, ¼ tsp fennel seeds, 1 bay leaf) tied in a double thickness of cheesecloth
- pinch of salt
Peel carrots and chop in 2-3 big pieces each. Chop celery into 2-3 big pieces each. Using the white and dark green leaves of the leek, half lengthwise and rinse well.
Place chicken in a stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim to remove the stuff that rises to the surface. When the broth is clear, add the remaining ingredients. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 2 hours.
Cool stock. Remove chicken (when cool enough to handle, save chicken meat for later use). Remove large pieces of vegetables and bouquet garni. Strain stock by pouring through colander lined with cheesecloth. Refrigerate stock overnight. Before using (or freezing), remove fat that accumulates on surface.
This broth has a wonderful flavor, and makes spectacular chicken noodle soup. To make the soup, simply place your homemade broth in a stockpot, add the chicken pieces you saved from the broth along with carrots, celery, onion, and fresh parsley. Season with 1 tsp of salt and ½ tsp pepper. When vegetables start to get tender, add noodles. I like to use these:
I don’t defrost, and add them straight from the freezer. Soup’s ready to serve when needles are cooked and vegetables are nice and tender.
Hands down, onion soup is my very favorite. The best recipe for French Onion soup is this version from Ina Garten. The addition of fennel really enhances the flavor. You can also find the recipe in her How Easy is That? cookbook.
I am also crazy about Outback’s Creamy Onion Soup, however they have quit offering it as an option. This has made me very sad, since their French Onion is mediocre at best.
One of my goals this year was to figure out how to make their Creamy Onion Soup myself, and I’m happy to report success!
Creamy Onion Soup
- 3 large yellow onions
- 1 cup butter, divided
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- ½ cup chardonnay
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups cream
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus additional for serving
Slice onions ¼ – ½” thick, and saute with 4 tablespoons butter until tender and translucent. Stir often to keep them from burning.
In large stockpot add chicken stock, chardonnay, salt and pepper. Cook at medium heat for about 30 minutes. If it starts to boil, reduce heat slightly.
In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan melt remaining butter. Add flour. Whisking frequently, cook at medium low to medium heat for 20-25 minutes until roux is a golden brown color. Add cream, whisking quickly so the cream doesn’t scorch.
Add onions and roux to the stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, then add 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Top with additional grated cheese when serving.
This soup reheats well, just thin with additional cream.
I am not a fan of tomato soup, but I have several versions I serve from time to time. Hands down, the most popular is the easiest one of all.
And again, it is an Ina Garten recipe – “Easy Tomato Soup” from her Foolproof cookbook. Everyone goes wild when I serve it! You can skip the grilled cheese croutons, they’re nice but not needed.
Cream of Chicken Soup
I mentioned last month that I didn’t cook with soup in a can. While Cream of Chicken soup isn’t something I’d eat, it is essential for many recipes. It is super easy to make your own, with ingredients you probably have on hand.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup chicken stock
In heavy bottomed saucepan melt butter, add flour and cook on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, whisking often. Add salt, milk, and chicken salt. Continue cooking until warm, whisking occasionally. Soup is now ready to use in your cooking endeavors! This is roughly equivalent to one can of soup.
And that’s all I have to say about soup today!