Sunday, November 9, 2008

Homemade Chicken Soup

I know I have mentioned I am a big SOUP person. I enjoy soups so much that I wouldn't even discriminate against canned soups - like Campbell's classic chicken noodle soup. However, I will admit that homemade soups taste much better! One of my favourites is chicken soup. Making it from scratch is so easy and totally worthwhile making. Nothing smells like homemade chicken soup when it's heated up. I used to make a big batch of chicken soup and bring it to work for lunch for a whole week. Everyone would be envious!

Like most dishes, I like to start with a recipe. I do not really feel comfortable improvising in the kitchen. But after a few times, I can now easily make chicken soup without a recipe. I like making my own because I can add a chock-full of vegetables and have large chunks of chicken. I also like to use brown rice for a high fibre meal.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Chicken Broth
Using canned broth would be fine but making chicken broth is also easy. I usually make a large portion of broth from 3 chicken carcasses. This allows me to freeze some. Growing up, I remember my mom making broth out of pork. After the broth was ready, we would pick at the pork bones for any remaining super tender meat and dip it in soy sauce. Having learned to be economical at a young age, I still pick at the chicken bones for meat and use it in the soup! I don't usually season the broth; I figure I can season it when I make the soup.

* chicken bones from one chicken
* 1 clove garlic, smashed
* 1 onion, halved
* 2-3 carrots, cut into 3 sections
* 2-3 celery stalks, cut into 3 sections
* 1-2 bay leaves
* a few whole peppercorns
* herbs such as thyme, parsley, fresh or dry

Cook the chicken bones in a big pot, covered in water, until the exterior looks cooked, about 5-10 minutes. This step is just to remove some of the grimy-ness from the blood and marrow.
Rinse and drain the chicken bones.
Add the chicken bones and the remainder of the ingredients.
Cover with water.
Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 2 hours.
If water runs out, just add more water.
Skim out the fat layer on top.
Strain the broth through a sieve.

Chicken broth before being strained.

Chicken Soup
I like to use brown rice for the high fibre. However, any other pasta or white rice can be used. Brown rice takes much longer to cook though. It does add a nice nuttiness to the soup.

* 1 small onion, diced small
* 3 carrots, sliced ¼" thick
* 3 celery stalks, sliced
* 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or store bought
* 1 bay leaf
* herbs of your choice
* ¾ cup of brown rice
* 1 chicken breast, or brown meat of your choice
* 1 cup of peas

Stir fry onions until softened.
Add carrots, and then celery, until somewhat cooked through.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add bay leaf and herbs.
Add broth and bring to a boil.
Add brown rice.
Bring down the broth to a simmer. While the broth is simmering, I like to poach the chicken breast in the broth (you can even throw in a frozen piece).
Once the chicken is cooked through, take it out and shread it into pieces. Throw the chicken pieces back in.
Turn off once the rice is cooked (about 30-45 minutes).
Add the peas and mix.
Season the soup to taste.

The vegetables. I had some potatoes and added them too this time.

Stir frying the vegetables.

Poaching the chicken.

Serve hot with freshly ground pepper!

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