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Chicken and Rice Soup

14 Feb

Chicken and Rice Soup

I could tell on Monday night that I was starting to get sick, so I went to bed early, hoping to wake up and feel better.  When that didn’t happen, I decided to make some nutritious and delicious comfort food to cure what ailed me.  This soup was exactly what the doctor ordered.  This soup tastes like it was a whole lot of work, when in fact it is almost totally hands off.  However, it has hours of home cooked flavor from the homemade bone broth and vegetable-poached chicken.  The rice is filling and adds a nice creamy texture to the soup.  I consider the lemon in both the broth base and as a finishing touch the “secret ingredient” here – it brightens up the whole dish and balances out the sweetness of the carrots.

I woke up the next morning feeling greatly improved, thanks in no small part to this healthy and satisfying dish.  If you plan to eat this as leftovers, be aware that the rice will soak up a lot of the liquid, and you will either need to add more stock as you reheat or eat a much less soup-y version the next day.  Both ways are really satisfying and have all of the same comforting flavors.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Homemade Chicken Broth:

1 whole chicken, giblets removed from plastic packaging

2 small yellow onions, quartered

1 shallot, halved

4-5 cloves garlic

2 large carrots, scrubbed clean and roughly chopped

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 small eggplant, quartered

2 bay leaves

1 lemon, halved

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns

In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients.  Add water to cover all ingredients.

Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 4 hours, skimming fat occasionally, until darkened in color and chicken is cooked through.  Carefully remove chicken with a pair of tongs and set aside.  Strain, discarding remaining ingredients.

Chicken and Rice Soup:

1 whole chicken, reserved from above

12 cups chicken broth, reserved from above

1 tbs. butter

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 large stalks celery, sliced

2 large carrots, chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

3/4 cups jasmine rice, uncooked

1 lemon, halved

Salt and pepper

Carefully remove chicken from the broth above and set aside to cool.  Once cool, using forks or your fingers, shred chicken into bite size pieces, both white and dark meat, discarding bones, skin, giblets, and fat.

In a medium Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and carrots and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until onion is translucent and celery begins to become tender.

Add shredded chicken, parsley, and rice.  Bring stock to a simmer.

Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender.  Taste for seasonings, adjusting as necessary.  Serve immediately, with a squeeze of lemon over each bowl.

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French Onion Soup with Beer Bagel Crouton

2 Nov

My house smelled frickin’ amazing last weekend when I made this.  I made the beef stock on the same day – which happened to be a cold, rainy, dreary fall day that was absolutely perfect for simmering stock and standing over the stove caramelizing onions.  I used a couple of oxtail bones and a stewing bone, which added a ton of flavor and body.  The homemade beef stock was rich and unctuous, balanced perfectly by the sweet, slowly caramelized onions, pungent cheese, and subtle beer flavor in the bagel.  In fact, the beer bagel is what really takes this over the top in deliciousness, adding just enough of a small spin on a classic to make this dish truly exciting.  It was the absolutely perfect meal for a gloomy fall evening – totally warm you from the inside out comfort food.

French Onion Soup with Beer Bagel Crouton

French Onion Soup:

Adapted slightly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

1 1/2 lb. or about 5 cups of yellow onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2″ pieces lengthwise

2 tbs. butter

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sugar

3 tbs. all purpose flour

2 quarts homemade beef stock

1/2 cup dry vermouth

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tbs. cognac, optional

2 beer bagels (see below), halved and toasted

1 cup gruyere, finely grated

1 cup Swiss cheese, finely grated

In a medium Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat with the fat.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Uncover, raise the heat to moderate, and add salt and sugar.  Cook for forty minutes or longer, until onions have turned an even, deep golden brown.  It is important to stir the onions every 2 minutes or so, scraping up any brown bits (hopefully, not burned bits) from the bottom of the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon.  Keep a very close eye on the onions, because if they burn, you have to start over.

Toward the end of the cooking process, bring beef stock to a rolling boil.

Stirring constantly, sprinkle in the flour and stir for three minutes.

Turn off the heat under the Dutch oven.  Add the boiling liquid while stirring.  Add the wine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Simmer, partially covered, for at least 40 minutes, skimming occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Stir in cognac, if using (I didn’t).

Preheat broiler.

Ladle into four oven proof bowls.

Float one half of a bagel in each bowl.  Top with a small handful of each type of cheese.  Transfer to broiler and broil 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Beer Bagels:

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Note: Clearly, this makes far more bagels than you need for the soup.  They are excellent in any way in which you would normally eat a bagel.

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 (.25) oz. packages active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm beer (we used an American pale ale brewed by my favorite home brewer, Zak)

4 tbs. white sugar, divided

1 tbs. salt

Preheat oven to 375º.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast.  Mix beer, 3 tbs. sugar, and salt together and add to the dry ingredients.  Beat with a hand mixer for about half a minute at low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean.  Beat at a higher speed for about three minutes.  By hand, mix in enough flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn out onto a lightly flour surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  Cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cut into 12 portions, shape into smooth balls.  Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape.  Cover, and let rise for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start a large pot of water boiling.  Add remaining tbs. of sugar.  Reduce to simmering.

Put 4-5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once.  Drain them.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.

Creamy Kohlrabi Soup

30 Sep

I am very glad one of my readers suggested a puréed kohlrabi soup, because this was absolutely delicious.  The kohlrabi, once cooked and puréed, has a hint of sweetness and a hint of radish-y spice.  This soup is simple and easy, and due to the starchiness of the kohlrabi, actually pretty filling.  Zak added some cooked pearled barley to his to make it more substantial, turning it into a sort of porridge.  I personally enjoyed the velvety smooth texture of the simple puréed version.

Also, my cold is about a million times better since last night, so I’m fairly sure this soup has magical powers.  I can’t prove it or anything, but if you have a head cold and some kohlrabi around, you might want to test my theory.  At the least, you’ll get a yummy soup out of it.

Creamy Kohlrabi Soup

2 medium to large bulbs kohlrabi

2 tbs. butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

2 tbs. apple cider vinegar

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup 1% milk

1 lime, quartered

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 package white button mushrooms, cleaned

2 tbs. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400º.

Using a knife, peel the tough, bright green outer layer off the kohlrabi.  Roughly chop.

In a medium Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté 8-10 minutes, until onion is translucent and soft.

Add kohlrabi and apple cider vinegar.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Cook 2-3 minutes until apple cider vinegar is evaporated.  Add vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until kohlrabi is fork tender.

Meanwhile, place mushrooms on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast 20 minutes, tossing once, until deeply caramelized.

When kohlrabi is tender, add milk to the kohlrabi mixture.  Simmer 3-5 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

Ladle into serving bowls.  Add roasted mushrooms.  Squeeze some lime over and serve immediately.

Clam and Corn Soup with Kale and Barley

21 Sep

Yesterday, I was feeling under-the-weather enough that I stayed home from work and skipped my evening class.  So for dinner, I wanted soup.  Luckily, I had a quart of clam broth leftover from a recent clam bake at my parents house.  I also wanted something healthy.  Therefore, I knew this soup was the perfect place for the every-so-slightly wilted kale I had from our CSA pick up this past Saturday.  Kale is full of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, and tons of other vitamins and nutrients.  Some leftover corn cobs (and frozen kernels) served to lend a hearty sweetness and substance to the broth.  Finally, whole grains in the form of pearled barley are also a wealth of healthy goodness.

But the healthiness of this dish isn’t the main attraction – it’s the taste.  The briney broth is infused with the sweetness of the corn, a slightly bitter herbaceousness from the kale, and a toothsome texture from the barley.  Zak bumped it up a notch by adding a leftover artichoke heart stuffed pepper.  I was happily surprised by how hearty and good this clam and corn soup was without the addition of any cream.  It still had all the lovely flavors of a chowder, but was more of a hearty soup or stew due to the lack of cream.

Clam and Corn Soup with Kale and Barley

1 quart clam broth leftover from a clam bake, or 1/2 qt. chicken broth and 1/2 qt. clam juice

1 tbs. butter, if necessary (see note below)

1 small onion, roughly chopped, if necessary (see note below)

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped, if necessary (see below)

3 cobs corn, kernels removed and reserved

1 cup pearled barley

3 cups kale, roughly chopped

[Note:  The leftover clam broth I used had some onions and garlic in it.  If you are using chicken broth/clam juice combination, first melt 1 tbs. of butter in a medium stock pot and sauté 1 small, roughly chopped onion and 3-4 cloves garlic, also roughly chopped, until tender.]

Add clam broth and corn cobs to a medium stock pot.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add barley and cover.  Simmer over medium heat for forty five minutes to an hour, until barley is tender.

Add corn and kale.  Simmer 3-5 minutes until corn is heated through and kale is wilted.  Serve immediately.

Corn and Tomato Chowder

10 Aug

Looking for a full-flavored, supremely sweet, scrumptiously savory corn and tomato chowder without heavy cream or bacon or any of those other quick fix flavor enhancers?  This is the chowder for you.  Yeah, heavy cream is yummy.  But it’s also not the best for you.  And why eat something that isn’t the best for you when you can have equally yummy results with a fraction of the calories, fat, and cholesterol?

… yes, that’s rhetorical.  The answer is: you don’t.  At least not all the time.

It might seem like I’m trying to sell this as health food.  I’m not.  Sure, it’s packed with vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes, corn (oh, especially corn), and, if you desire, some nutritious spinach.  But the real selling point of this dish is the flavor.  The key here is to use good corn, and do not skimp on corn cobs.  This infuses the broth with deliciously sweet corn flavor.  I could not get enough of this and was extremely happy I made enough for leftovers, because I couldn’t wait to eat it for lunch again the next day.

Corn and Tomato Chowder

1 tbs. unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped)

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

4-5 corn cobs, kernels reserved from one or two (about 1 cup kernels)

1 bay leaf

6 cups 1% milk

6-10 small redskin potatoes, roughly chopped

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved and seeds removed

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

A handful or two of baby spinach, wilted in a saucepan (optional)

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Break corn cobs in half and add to the saucepan.  Add the milk and bay leaf.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Reduce heat to very low and cover.  Cook for 30-45 minutes, making sure the liquid is at barely a simmer so as to avoid scorching the milk.

Remove corn cobs and bay leaf.  Add potatoes and tomatoes.  Simmer 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes and potatoes are tender.  Taste for seasonings and season with salt and pepper as necessary.  Add reserved corn kernels and simmer for 3-5 minutes until heated through.

Serve immediately, topping with spinach if desired.

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