Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowpocalypse 2012 Calls for More Soup!

Since I was still pretty much snowbound yesterday until our plow guy came and dug out the driveway in the very late afternoon, I spent the day at home, shovelling paths for the dogs to get out to potty and for us to get to our cars, tending the fire, cleaning the kitchen, and doing some neglected piles of laundry. I also unearthed a chicken from the back freezer, thawed it out, and proceeded to cobble together a very cozy and satisfying cauldron of homemade chicken noodle soup.

There was no recipe per se, but it was pretty traditional, with the exception of one special secret ingredient: fresh lemon juice! I loved that lemony turkey soup after Thanksgiving so much, that I thought to try it with chicken soup. The lemon does something wonderful to cut through the richness of the chicken fat and freshen up all the flavors. We ate steaming bowls of this soup with some awesome open-faced roast beef melts on the side: grainy bread grilled in a pan with a little butter, melted Swiss cheese, a sprinkle of granulated garlic and black pepper, a schmear of my homemade cranberry mustard, and thin slices of our Christmas roast beast crisped up in the same pan. YUM!!

Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken and stock:
1 whole chicken, water to cover
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, rinsed and cut into large chunks
1 whole onion, ends removed and cut into large chunks (peels and all)
4 cloves garlic, whacked with a knife
bundle of fresh herbs--thyme, oregano, and rosemary, tied with string
12-15 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 tablespoons chicken soup base
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, rinsed and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced
2-3 tablespoons chicken soup base, to taste
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground celery
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley (or half a bunch of chopped fresh would be better!)
half a "family-sized" bag of wide egg noodles (or one regular-sized bag)
salt, to taste
juice of two lemons
2 cups half and half, optional

To make the chicken and stock, in a large stock pot (eight quarts, I think--I like to use my pasta pot with strainer insert), place the chicken and cover with water. Add the other stock ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour, or until the legs start to pull away from the body of the bird. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool, then strain the rest of the veggies and bits from the broth.

To make the soup, add the onion, celery, carrots, poblano pepper, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the veggies are sufficiently tender, about ten minutes. Bring the soup back to a rapid boil and add the noodles. Cook according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, remove the skin from the cooled chicken and debone it, then break the meat into large chunks. Sprinkle with about a half teaspoon of salt, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Mix it all together gently with your hands, checking for any bits of bone or gristle you may have missed. When the noodles are tender, turn off the heat and stir in the chicken and the half and half, if using. Taste to correct seasonings and serve piping hot with another garnish of fresh parsley if you have some on hand.

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