Monday, December 26, 2011

Not That Exciting Chicken Soup

Sometimes you have to make soup because you haven't been to the grocery store in a few weeks, because it was Christmas and all you have in the house are the leftovers from your ambitious and impressive chicken stock adventure, some baklava from a really too nice friend, and chocolates from your sweet husband.

Your sweet, sweet husband who got you tickets to the friggin' ballet for Christmas.

I die.

Anyway. It was creepy cold and foggy today. So I made chicken soup today. And I made my husband's friends eat it, too. They showered me with compliments.

2 T olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped/diced/whatever
splash of white wine
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2-3 cups shredded chicken, cooked.
1/2 cup diced celery
3 ice cubes of chicken stock
some spaghetti, broken in half
water to cover

You know what this all looks like, so I didn't take pictures. Also, I forgot to take pictures.

Heat your olive oil, toss in the onion until brownish. Splash with white wine and let cook until it smells so good you can't deal. Add the carrots, chicken, celery and stock. Bring to a boil, then drop your pasta.

What we learned:

I used celery I bought 3 weeks ago, diced, blanched and then froze. My husband and his nice friends were the guinea pigs for this technique. The results were negligible.

Also, taste your food. Taste it all the time. I even saw Carla Hall (Top Chef finalist and fantastic glasses wearer) on the Chew (new on NBC) taste RAW KUGEL, which is gross when it is cooked, but also totally has raw eggs in it. She needs to taste it because it's important to know what's going on. I have a problem with this, because I hate to burn my tongue. And I always burn my tongue when I taste soup.

But, I will do anything for soup.

So I have a burnt tongue, and a properly seasoned soup. Victory!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Epic Chicken Stock. You need it for your life.

You need to make your own stock. Julia says so.

And we always do what Julia tells us.

Especially when it's Meryl as Julia.

ANYWAY, back to the stock!

Full-Flavored Chicken Stock
from Mark Bittman, genius of cooking everything
3 lbs. of chicken, preferably with bones and skin
about 10 baby carrots (or equivalent in real carrots)
5 stalks of celery
1 onion, quartered (don't bother peeling)
1 T thyme
small handful of parsley from your herb garden (or 1 T dried)
2 bay leaves
16 cups of water.

Heat your stock pot. Add chicken to the pot, skin down, and let it brown while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Add everything to the pot. Bring BARELY to a boil, then reduce heat and cover partially. It shouldn't be boiling hard - it needs to be barely bubbling, a couple bubbles at a time.
Simmer this way for two hours, until the chicken is falling off the bone.

Strain, pressing the veggies and chicken to get as much stock as possible. Salt to taste.

Refrigerate, and take the chunks of fat off the top. Gross. Discard.

Reheat and reduce until the total liquid is about 2.5 cups. This will take hours. Don't do it too fast.

Freeze in ice cube trays. When ready to use, chuck a cube in a cup of boiling water and use as normal.

Admire your collection of corks. And your lime green counter tops. Ahhh, rentals in San Francisco.... so charming.

Suddenly realize how many bottles you've consumed since you last emptied your cork container... eesh. 

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, y'all. This Soup Santa is all souped out for the holiday.
Give your loved ones something warm and delicious for the holiday. Or cold and bubbly...

Soup Santa

Creamless Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ooooooh y'all, today is Soup Santa's day off!

That means that by noon today, I have already gone to the DMV, gone to the market to get ingredients for this broccoli soup and crack dip (thanks a heap, pinterest), and gone to the MINI dealership to get a gift for my sweetie.

Oh, and I walked 3 miles.

It also means that I'm going to enjoy the perfect mimosa, the most important part of my liquid diet.

The Perfect Mimosa
it's just what the doctor ordered.

Trust me. I'm a doctor.

Step one: juice one orange. Maybe two if you have two. It's a mimosa - not nuclear fission.
Step two: open a bottle of champagne.
Step three: pour a healthy glass of champagne.
Step four: pour a splash of OJ into your glass.
Step five: pour the rest of the juice into the bottle, being VERY CAREFUL not to let it bubble over. (Ignore the OJ stain on the tablecloth)
Step six: enjoy the perfect mimosa (or 5).

And now the soup...

Creamless Cream of Broccoli Soup
lovingly adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for one hour
1 white onion, diced
1 T olive oil
about 5 cups broccoli, steamed and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper (I used lemon pepper from Trader Joe's)
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (squeeze of half a lime)
Splash Worcestershire sauce
about 4 cups of water

You need an immersion blender. If you don't have one, you need to get one. They are magical. Be sure to get the one that doubles as a food processor and grater. Or get one that is purple. It's just as good as a multi-purpose one.

After soaking, the cashews become softer. This makes them easier to blend later. Awesome!
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon cumin. Stir for about another minute. Add fresh ground pepper and broccoli to the pot. Pour cashews and water, and use your handy immersion blender to blend it all together until smooth. Add splash (or several...) of Worcestershire and squeeze of lemon, and salt to taste. Heat and serve.

Enjoy, y'all.

Soup Santa.

What we learned:

It's pretty thick. Maybe you dig that. It doesn't have anything but good stuff in it, so I suppose it's fine. You could add milk (though that would be dairy... and we are not tolerant of dairy) or stock, I'm sure. 

Or just drink a mimosa already.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hipppie Soup (not just for hippies!)

Once upon a time, I worked at a summer camp. Not just any summer camp - Sierra Service Project. Which is a totally major service project, where high school kids go rebuild houses on an indian reservation for a week. I worked there for three summers, after attending as an awkward high school kid for 5 summers.

And I didn't just work there. I was a chef*. I was also a hippie. We didn't give people napkins. We didn't use paper plates. We cooked in giant vats. We made chocolate chip cookies and put a slice of bread in the bag to keep them from getting stale. Some kids thought the bread was for anyone who didn't like cookies. I didn't shower every day. I didn't shave my legs for weeks, y'all. SSP is where I became Greenzo.

True story.

*term used loosely.

Soup Santa came to SSP on Sundays. We made this soup, and it was incredible. This is my first time making it without multiplying the recipe to feed 60 hungry teenagers. So let's go!

Hippie Soup, from my darling co-chef, Laureen, without whom, I would never measure anything.


2 tbsp oil for sauteing
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 3)
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I used 3)
1 carrot, chopped (I used like 10 baby carrots)
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
3 cups hot milk (I used soy)

Heat oil in a heavy pot and sauté garlic, onion, celery and carrot until onion is translucent.

Add flour and sauté, stirring, until it’s a little toasty.

Admire your measuring spoon. And your manicure.

Add the uncooked rice, and about 2 cups water.

Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, herbs and  cook at least 45 minutes (until rice is done). I cooked it for an hour.
Remove from heat. Add milk and more salt and pepper if needed. Heat through but do not let boil.

Yield: 6 servings
Enjoy!  (If you burn the rice, say it's Cajun flavoring.) Serve with bread you made from scratch (no bigs).

What we learned: don't use soy milk - it makes it strangely sweet, even though you used unflavored soy milk. Use heavy cream instead. And don't be lactose intolerant. And drink champagne while you cook. Always.


Soup Santa