Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Homemade Chicken Soup for Sick People

I have been miserable for days. Allergies, check. Broken shoulder, or something like it, check. Full digestive cleanse, check. (Don't ever let anyone tell you that a cleanse is all fun and games! When your body is kicking all the crap in your body, it's going to hurt like crazy.)

So today I decided it was a soup and sandwiches kind of day.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Making homemade chicken stock is easy as pie. Way easier than pie. You know what I mean. 

I took my big giant stock pot and filled it up. Not all the way, just eyeballed it. In fact I didn't measure a single thing for this chicken stock, I just piled in the ingredients and let it go. I should mention that everything I used today was organic. I thought what better way to kick a cold in the head (even if it is allergies and you can't kick those) than by eating something thoroughly healthy and delicious, and a known panacea for illness?

Ingredients (approximate measures)
  • Pot of water
  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts that have been rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup carrots chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks chopped into large chunks
  • 2 shallots unpeeled with the ends cut off
  • 1 onion chopped in half
  • a bunch of parsley
  • a bunch of whole peppercorns
  • a pretty hefty dash of sea salt
The blend has been boiling for about 2 hours now and I'll boil it for at least one more. When I'm done, I'll test whether the chicken has cooked through thoroughly by using a meat thermometer and making sure the interior of the meat reaches at least 180 degrees F.

Vegetarian Options

The great thing about soup stock is that it can be made with whatever you want in order to infuse the flavors. You can easily make vegetable stock without the chicken and it tastes just as good!

Homemade Chicken Soup

Once it's done, the next step is sifting all the vegetables through a strainer and tossing them. The biggest mistake is cooking the veggies and then eating them. They're useless and completely vitamin-less. So once we're back to broth, I'll add a new batch of veggies cut into more bite friendly pieces, probably a handful of carrots, celery, onions, shallots, maybe some chopped parsley. I'll also only use a portion of the stock to make soup and will freeze the rest in smaller portions. You can keep stock frozen for up to three months, but can only keep it refrigerated (safely) for about three days. It's best to take into account how much you'll actually eat and save the rest.

TIP: Don't make the mistake I've made before and freeze a whole gallon in a single container. Once you defrost it, you have to use it. You can't refreeze safely. Separate the broth into a few small containers so you can defrost it in the morning and make some soup or add it to a recipe later that night!

Putting the "Noodle" in Chicken Noodle Soup

This was a tip my mom taught me. 

When you go to restaurants, you often see chicken noodle soup already filled with noodles, but this can make the soup starchy if you leave it sit even overnight. My mom taught me to make egg noodles on the side and rinse them, but store them separately. Only combine them when you're serving them. It works wonders for keeping the broth fresh and clear.

Using the Chicken

Boiled chicken isn't that great to most people, although I really like it. My husband isn't a huge fan of the taste though, so I cook the chicken a second time and season it for chicken sandwiches. This is easy and tasty. 

Spread a little oil or butter in a skillet, toss in the white meat that you've peeled from the bones, and saute until the edges are browned. Add any seasonings you like for some flavor! Toss a slice of cheddar cheese over the chicken on the pan just until it melts enough to mold over the meat. Serve on pretzel bread with any desired sandwich toppings. 

Let Me Know How it Turned Out!

If you make one of these two meals with my recommendations, let me know how it turns out for you! I look forward to your feedback in the comment section below.