I will double post until the end of the month for my scheduled posts; however, any non-scheduled posts will no longer be published here.
Finally, here are a few recipes. First, I'm going to share what I usually do when I make chicken soup, much of which I've already discussed in the last post. You'll need:
- Whole chicken, cut up
- 1 onion
- 2-3 carrots
- 2-3 ribs of celery
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1-3 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- 1 pkg. egg noodles
- 1-2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Per my last post, it's your choice. If you want crunchier vegetables, add them later. Otherwise, put everything in a pot (except the egg noodles, salt and pepper), fill with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 2 hours. Remove the chicken, bay leaf, and large vegetables (if you went that route). Let the chicken cool for 10 minutes or so, and then start removing the meat from the bone. You can coarsely chop the meat or pulse it in the food processor, then add it back to the soup. Save any leftover meat for whatever you'd like (see previous post for commentary on this).
Now, the noodles can be a point of contention on several fronts. I use egg noodles. Why? I like them, and that's how I was raised on homemade chicken noodle soup. Use what you like. I've tried acini de pepe, which is a pasta that looks like peppercorns (think large couscous, only with semolina flour instead of durum). In fact, that's what acini de pepe translates to (source). The second point is how to cook them. I prefer to boil them separately in fresh water, then drain the noodles and add to the soup shortly before serving. Other people just throw them in the soup and let the soup cook them. Not sure how I feel about either way. Just what I've done.
What else can you do with this?
Italian wedding soup
There's a story here. For several years my family would go out for Thanksgiving. For my Downriver readers, this meant going to Crystal Gardens for their buffet (we also did Portofino, but that was usually for Easter). My grandma became fond of the Italian wedding soup they served with the dinner. She looked forward to it every year. Needless to say, she became rather upset when they didn't serve it one year, to the point that when the manager was canvassing the patrons asking if everything was ok, she laid into him (or her...I forget). The look was precious, as the manager was probably not used to being scolded for removing something from the menu (bad service, yes...85 year-old grandma up in his grill about Italian wedding soup...not likely).
The following year I hosted Thanksgiving (for a mental picture, I want to say 2002 give or take a year). Never cooked a turkey before, so for insurance, I made as many freakin' side dishes as possible. Included in this was, you guessed it, Italian wedding soup.
Sounds intimidating, doesn't it? Not just soup, not just a national soup, but a national soup for a joyous occasion. Two words:
That's it, really. Brown up some loose Italian sausage (hot or mild), and throw it in the soup. You may want to use a different pasta (like acini de pepe), and you may want to throw in some greens (e.g., chopped kale). You may also want to make little meatballs with the sausage, too, but now we're talking sausage, eggs, breadcrumbs, and so on. I say keep it simple; just don't smash up the sausage too much while you're browning it.
So, there. You now have two soups. Let's make is a quick three and call it a day.
Same as the chicken soup recipe, with a few changes. First, just use the broth, no meat. Definitely throw in the veggies later rather than sooner (I'd say let them cook for about 20 minutes before serving). Also, add a bunch of veggies besides the ones we've been talking about: zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, green beans. Add a large can of crushed or diced tomatoes. Use another pasta (shells, penne, mostaccioli). Finally, add a can of kidney beans.
Once again, you could use store bought stock for the base of any of these, but since the meat broth is kinda like the main attraction here, only do so when you're pressed for time. I might use it for minestrone, but not the other two.
Next time, soups where store bought stock/broth is encouraged!