recipes

chicken noodle soup, for the souls that need it

img_4389

Welcome to my poor, neglected blog! If you’re a first timer, you can read my first-ever blog post here to get a little background (edits inserted since this was posted a few years ago). It’s been so long since I posted that I had to reset my password. My last post was about moving back to Ohio from D.C., and that happened well over a year ago. Oof. I’d like to get better about consistently posting since this is a therapeutic and enjoyable creative outlet for me, so I’ll resolve in 2017 to be better.

Speaking of being better – if you are feeling anxious about the future (as many of us are today), for any reason, I urge you to try to place yourself back in the present. I have to remind myself of this often. It’s something I still need to work on, but I’m doing my best. Look around you and really see what and, more importantly, who is there. Relish in any little feeling of security, no matter how small – even if it’s just the fact that the couch cushion has formed perfectly about your posterior as you read this. Wiggle around and smile. You’re home on your own couch, and you’re warm and safe. Fart if you want to.

Do something nice. Effect change in your world – it doesn’t have to be on a large scale, but it certainly can be. If you’re out in your community, actively making it better, keep on keeping on. If you’re fighting for what you believe in, keep fighting. You can do this loudly, but I believe you can do it quietly too, if that suits you better. If going out into the world to try to fix it sounds terrifying, start in your own home. Even if your home is just you, better yourself. Take care of people. Make plans with family or friends. Put your phone down for long periods of time. Work on strengthening real connections. Make someone else happy. Make yourself happy.

Start by making this soup!

Soup & Sam

This recipe is for everyone who has ever peeled the top off of a Campbell’s chicken noodle soup can and wanted more. It’s for everyone who has unceremoniously dumped that can of soup into a pan and then refilled the sad little can with water as the directions demand, then added said water to the soup and needed something more. It’s for everyone who has then sat down to slurp their soup and wondered why the noodles barely require chewing and the chicken tastes just south of what even bad chicken should taste like. It’s for everyone who deserves more from their chicken noodle soup.

We all know canned chicken noodle soup is garbage in terms of nutritional value. I actually still like the taste of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for the most part, when I’m feeling really sick, but I think it’s only because my mom would feed it to me when I had a sore throat growing up. My mom liked it too, but she would actually pick out all of the chicken pieces from her can and give them to our cat, Fluffy. The hilarity of the chicken pieces not being good enough for her but perfectly acceptable for her only daughter is just now washing over me. Thanks, Mom.

This chicken noodle soup is everything. It’s full of real, tender chicken pieces – all of different sizes, like little chicken snowflakes. It’s also full of vegetables and a little full of egg noodles too. It’s rich and warm and comfort in a bowl.

The keys to soup nirvana?

Crane Brothers

     “Sherry, Niles?”  “Certainly, Frasier!”

  1. Homemade stock – this couldn’t be easier, trust me.
  2. A little heavy cream and parmesan – again, trust me.
  3. Sherry. Trust the sherry-swilling brothers Crane.

A helpful note before diving in: about half of these ingredients below simply get thrown into a stock pot, so this is much less labor-intensive than it appears at first glance.

Ingredients:

Essentials

  • 5 quarts water
  • 3 lb. fryer chicken, cut into sections*
  • 5 – 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 peeled/diced medium onions
  • 4 teaspoons chicken Better-than-Bouillon base (3-4 chicken bouillon cubes would work instead)
  • 1.5 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp each – kosher salt, black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. hot paprika
  • 3 – 5 sliced carrots (depending on size and love for carrots)
  • 4 – 5 sliced celery stalks
  • 4 measured cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup Fino sherry (I used Barbadillo brand)**
  • 2 tsp. dry rosemary
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (half & half would do the trick half as well)

*A roaster chicken will work, but it will yield a much less tender result. Also, many markets will have already cut up fryer chickens, which means you can just toss everything in the package into the stockpot. Hashtag EZPZ.

Barbadillo Fino Sherry

 

**Avoid what is labeled “cooking sherry” (even if you find a recipe that calls for it). Cooking sherry has so much added salt and other preservatives that you can’t drink it, and it’s an artificial, weird product. Stay away. If you buy a decent bottle of sherry (I recommend a dry Fino for this recipe), the end product will have a discernible sherry flavor, and isn’t that the point of an ingredient, to actually taste it? Plus, you can drink it afterwards (and during). Store it in the refrigerator and enjoy as you would a dry white wine.

 

Recipe:

  • In a stockpot, add 4 quarts of the water (you’ll add a fifth quart later on) plus the ingredients from the fryer chicken to the smoked paprika on the list above. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to medium-low or low.
  • Let cook over medium-low to low heat for about 45 – 60 minutes with the lid on, keeping an eye on the liquid contents now and then to make sure they’re only simmering – you don’t want it to boil, but you want the chicken to cook through. (45 minutes on low did it for me on a gas cooktop.)
  • Once chicken is ready, remove all chicken pieces from the stock and set aside to cool. From the stock, also remove bay leaves and large onion pieces.
  • Once cooled enough to handle, pull chicken off the bones, also removing the skin, so you are left with only your torn chicken pieces. Tear apart any pieces larger than bite-size.
  • Bring stock back to a boil in stockpot, and add carrots, boiling for about 2 minutes. Then, add celery and boil for about 5 more.
  • Add egg noodles, and boil until tender (10 – 15 minutes depending on brand purchased).
  • Reduce heat to medium and add chicken back to the pot, along with sherry, rosemary, parsley, and seasoned salt. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. (I probably added 1/2 tsp, at least.)
  • Give everything a good stir and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • Here’s where it goes from good to DAMN! Add your heavy cream and parmesan. (Remember that this soup will serve at least 10 servings, so it’s really not a lot of cheese or cream per serving.)
  • Reduce heat to low. At this point, if your soup looks too thick, you can add in that fifth quart (or less of water). If you do this, be sure to adjust seasoning if it’s needed, adding more salt and/or pepper. You’ll want to taste the soup at this point, whether or not you’re adding water, to make sure seasoning is right

The soup is ready now. And it will be even better tomorrow after the flavors meld overnight. In fact, if you’re wanting to eat it day-of, I highly recommend making it in the morning and enjoying it for dinner.

Serve hot, topped with a little more parsley if you so desire. A little extra parm never hurt anyone either. Commit fully and throw a grilled cheese into the mix. For all you local folks, Dorothy Lane Market bakes a Salt Rye that is just meant to be grilled and paired with white cheddar cheese.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

october is for ohio and chili (recipe included)

Living in DC for a little over two months has been an adventure. I never pictured myself living anywhere other than an Ohio suburb, and adjusting to the city life has been an adjustment of the best variety. AB and I have discovered that our lifestyle is well-suited for city living. As much as we love our new home here, many pieces of our hearts are back in Ohio. Thankfully, we’re a manageably short drive away, and we have plans to visit often (and have been back twice already). That doesn’t stop us from missing people, of course.

One of the people we miss most is “our Gary.” It’s weird describing Gary to people who don’t have the background story because, technically, we’re not related, and calling him my late mom’s boyfriend in the past tense is a long and awkward description. But Gary, for me, is the dad I never hadthe father figure everyone deserves. He’s like a second father to AB as well. Gary and AB both love manly things like football, golf, and technology, and they often enjoy long talks full of both laugher and advice. Gary loves cooking and Pottery Barn, and I, too, adore cooking and Pottery Barn. He is like our best friend/might-as-well-be-dad and pretty much the best. Ever. Plain and simple.

This past weekend, AB and I packed up our weekender bags and our dog, Ari, and headed back to Ohio for a long weekend to visit loved ones and celebrate our alma mater’s homecoming. We stayed with Gary, and in exchange for his hospitality, he requested only one thing: my chili.

I’ve been asked for my chili recipe on a couple of occasions, and I’ve never shared it. It’s a recipe that I played with one chili season (chili season is the period of time that spans fall and winter, duh) and eventually perfected with the help of taste testers like AB and Gary. I’ve been making the perfect version for about four years now. Yes, I called it perfect. Disclaimer: I will toot my own horn when it deserves to be tooted.

Bean

Bean = good. beans = bad.

I hate beans, so this chili is bean-free. I do love Bean, our cat, though.

Trust me, this chili is so meaty and spicy and PERFECT, that even the beaniest bean-lover won’t miss the beans.

This chili is pretty laborious as far as recipes go, and I use a lot of different peppers and spices to make it. Prep time is maybe an hour or so if you manage your time well, and simmer time is 2-3 hours depending on how long you can wait to eat. So, I will stop guarding this recipe with my life, and share it with all those brave enough to take on the chili-crafting challenge. If you make it, I’d love to hear how it goes for you! It’s worth the time and effort, I promise. I dream of one day entering it in some huge, world-famous chili cook-off and winning millions of dollars and/or bragging rights.

I made this batch at Gary’s house, so I was a little out of the element of my own kitchen, but the batch was as delicious as ever.


Pepper Fest Chili

(I don’t really call it that, but it seems like a fitting name for a chili with lots of peppers.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS bacon grease (or olive oil if you don’t want to be awesome)
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions (white or yellow) – chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 jalapenos – seeded and minced
  • 2 Poblano peppers – roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 3 Anaheim chiles – roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1-2 habanero chiles (using 2 makes chili VERY spicy) – roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic – minced
  • 2 lb. trimmed, cubed boneless chuck (many butchers/meat counters at groceries sell pre-cubed chuck for stews)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. bulk mild Italian sausage (not in links)
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 TBS Ancho chili powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tsp white pepper (can use freshly ground black pepper instead)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce (I use Contadina brand)
  • 1 12-oz can tomato paste (Contadina, again)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 12-oz bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager

Recipe:

To make things easier on yourself later on, I suggest mixing all of the spices together in a small bowl so you can dump them all in together at once when the time is right (chili powder through coriander on the ingredients list).

Next, you’ll want to roast, seed, peel, and chop your Poblanos, Anaheims, and habanero. Be very careful while handling peppers, especially the habanero. Brush any kind of oil on the skin of the chiles, and places them on a baking sheet. Broil on HIGH until skins are charred (black). Be sure to flip chiles.

Once nice and charred, use tongs to place chiles in a sealed plastic bag or tupperware, and let them sweat for about 15 min. Once nice and sweaty (the chiles, not you), peel the skin off the Anaheims and Poblanos under cold water, removing seeds. Use gloves or two forks to peel and remove seeds from habanero. Then, chop those suckers.

Le Creuset stock potNow, melt bacon grease (or olive oil only if you imagine me “booing” you) and butter over HIGH heat in large stock pot. I use a trusty Cherry-red beauty from my favorite French cookware line, Le Creuset, for all my chili needs.

Add onions, red bell pepper, jalapenos, and roasted chiles to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally about 8-10 minutes.

Add your bulb’s worth of minced garlic (yes, I use a whole bulb, and you should too if you love garlic and hate vampires), and cook about a minute longer until fragrant.

Add 2 lbs. of chuck, stir, and let the meat brown. Should take about 5 minutes or so with the lid on.

Turn heat to MEDIUM HIGH, and add bulk Italian sausage and ground beef. Carefully stir to not break it up too much.

Pop the lid back on, and let the meat cook through (10-12 min). (CONFESSION: I first typed “poop” when I meant to type “pop” and strongly considered not even making the correction. This will surprise no one that knows me even a little bit.)

Once all the meat seems browned, add all the dry spices to the pot, and combine. Let cook 2-3 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, stir, and let cook about 5 min.

Stir in chicken stock.

Now it’s beer time. In the ingredients, I mentioned one 12-oz bottle of beer. You should really have two here. One for the chili and one for you. You deserve it.

Give the pot a good stir, and reduce heat to let the chili simmer for at least two hours.

I like to serve my chili with freshly-grated extra sharp cheddar, chopped white and green onions, guacamole, and crackers. (I hope when you enjoy cheese at home, you enjoy it the way God intended by grating it yourself.) The guacamole is very cooling and goes great with chili if you’ve never tried it. If I’m making chili for a crowd, I’ll serve up hotdogs and grilled buns as well (AB’s favorite). Below are some shots of a chili dinner I made here in our apartment in DC about a month ago for friends, right at the beginning of chili season. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was still about 80 degrees out when I made my first batch this year, but we were watching football. There’s just something about chili and football. Until next time!