Monday, December 8, 2014

Emergency Chicken Soup

The Crud has descended upon the Hautman/Logue household. Time for chicken soup. Chicken soup is a serious business here. Canned is not an option.

Usually I begin by roasting a couple of whole chickens, as free-range and organic as I can find (and afford). I usually throw in a bunch of gizzards or necks, too. The roasted chickens are then disassembled. The bones, giblets,* and most of the skin go into a cauldron with three gallons of water to simmer for four hours, with roasted onions, celery, carrots, and a few herbs and spices added during the last hour. It is then strained through a flour sack dishtowel, defatted, and boiled down to about half of its original volume. The result is a clear, gelatinous, very flavorful stock.

Half of the reduced stock is frozen for future use (sometimes I reduce a portion of it further to make a basic chicken demi-glace), the rest, with chicken meat from the thighs and legs (use the white meat for something else, like chicken salad), vegetables (I always include carrots, parsnips, celery, and onions), and some sort of starch (noodles, dumplings, potatoes, wild rice—choose one) becomes, after another forty-five minutes of simmering, chicken soup. Total time elapsed: 7-8 hours.

But this is an emergency. I need soup fast, so I start with a roasted chicken from the grocery store.

1. Remove meat from chicken.
2. Add bones and skin to three quarts of water. Throw in some carrot, onion, and celery trimmings. Maybe a slice of ginger root. Simmer for at least an hour.
3. Saute onions, celery, and carrots in butter. Add S&P, herbs, garlic, and a whole chili pepper.
4. Strain broth (you can skim off the fat if you wish) over vegetables. Add chicken. Bring to a simmer. Add noodles. Cook about fifteen minutes, or until noodles are done.

Total time elapsed: About 90 minutes.

Do this every day for seven days. The cold will be gone, and you won’t want chicken soup again until the next time you get sick.

* Do NOT use the liver for stock. Give it to the cat.