January is all about Soup, Chili & Stew

Soup Mug

Soup Mug

We are having our own little winter blizzard here in Door County, WI today.  No one else in Wisconsin has it.  And of course that calls for a slow roasting meal to fill the house with aromas that can be intoxicating.

bowl cobalt blue with blushI love soup, even in the summer.  I love making it sometimes just to make it.  The first time I made beef soup I was newly married and used one of the new cookbooks that had been a wedding gift.  Years before, cooking was more like a political statement against meat consumption than anything about nutrition and flavor, but then one night it was my turn to cook and I made meatloaf after being a vegetarian for years and I didn’t even notice what I was doing.  It was a clear epiphany and one I remembered. I didn’t go back.  Sometimes, like today, I make a pot roast (or boiled dinner) and the leftovers become the basis of the soup that I was yearning for in the first place.  I usually make my chicken soups the same way: roast a chicken for one dinner so I can have the leftovers for the soup the next day.  This soup recipe, though, is intentional, and making soup on purpose is kind of a zen thing to do on a winter’s night that makes winter all that more wonderful.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup Makes about 8 dinner-size servings

4 skin-on chicken thigh/leg quarters1 boneless skinless chicken breast half1 large onion, peeled and quartered3 ribs celery, trimmed and halvedWater to cover

Celery salt to taste (be generous)

Salt and pepper to taste

Ground sage to tastePoultry seasoning to taste1 ½ quarts good-quality prepared chicken stock or broth12 ounces double-egg Amish noodles6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter or reserved chicken fat

3 ribs celery, diced

½ to 1 medium onion, diced

6 tablespoons flour

1 cup half-and-half cream

Place chicken, quartered onion and celery ribs in soup pot. Cover with water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until meat is tender, about an hour.

Remove chicken pieces to platter to cool.

Increase heat to high and boil cooking water uncovered until reduced by at least half. Add celery salt, regular salt, poultry seasoning and sage. Taste and reduce further, if needed, until broth has sufficient flavor. (Additional flavor will come from adding canned broth.) Strain broth through mesh strainer into large bowl to remove scum and large onion and celery pieces; discard vegetables. Return strained broth to pot.

Meanwhile, when chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and any fat and discard. Remove all meat from bones and cut larger pieces into bite-size pieces.

Cover and refrigerate broth and meat separately overnight.

Next day, remove congealed fat from surface of broth; reserve. Place broth on stove to heat. Add half the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add a little more than half of the noodles and cook just until al dente.

Meanwhile, melt butter or 6 tablespoons chicken fat in large saucepan. Add diced celery and onion and sauté until onion is translucent and celery is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour, blend in and cook 1 minute. Add half-and-half gradually, cooking until thickened. Add some of hot chicken broth gradually, to thin sauce. Whisk all of sauce into pot of broth and noodles. Add remaining broth from can to soup (at least 2 cups; add to desired consistency). Add chicken meat, stir and heat through. Taste and add more celery salt, sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper as desired.

Variations: Thawed frozen peas can be added with chicken meat, if desired. Or, dice two or three small carrots and sauté with onion and celery.

This is a creation of: Nancy J. Stohs is food editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


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