Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicken Soup For The Soul

On a whim last night I decided to stop by the supermarket after work and [vegetarians look away, look away!] grab the fixings to make chicken soup. From scratch. No bouillon cubes. No packet this, no sachet that. Just an organic free range chicken, water, carrots, onions, celery, a bay leaf (thanks Speedy!) and some peppercorns.

A couple of hours and a house full of nummy aroma later and I had a big pot o' chicken and delicately flavoured stock. Most was placed in a container in the 'fridge to allow the fat to solidify and then be disposed of, and some was placed in a small pan to be simmered with risoni, salt & pepper, some of the veggies from the stock, lashings of shredded chicken and some parsley. A small squeeze of lemon would have been good too, but I forget to get any lemons at the supermarket. When life doesn't give you lemons, make... do without them.

It was rewarding and relaxing. It felt nice to be making something from scratch, and putting aside something for future meals. In this case containers of stock in the freezer for cold winter soup nights, or risotto maybe. Most nights I only have the enthusiasm to spend 10 minutes throwing together some pasta or something easy, but given the lightning strike of time and energy there was real enjoyment in checking the pot, skimming, smelling and waiting.

And then today found me looking up small sized slow cookers online. I mean, a casserole all ready for me when I get home on a winter work night? With portions boxed up in the freezer for later?... Nom nom.

11 comments:

Tom said...

W-hoo! It's so much better from scratch. If you don't have one already I'd invest in a good quality cast iron casserole dish - then you can leave it on a really low heat in the oven. Much more versatile than a single application slow cookery thingo. :)

Tunamarie said...

Not as great as my honey's Matzoh Ball Chicken soup...but sounded pretty darn close.
Photo of her soup in my blog...

M-H said...

Disagree with Tom. The slow cooker is The Best Thing. They are really cheap to buy. We use ours at least once a week in the winter - sometimes two or three times. You can prepare a casserole in the evening, put it in the fridge overnight and into the slow cooker on low in the morning. When you come in there is a wonderful smell through the house; it feels like someone else has cooked dinner, and you've used the minimum amount of power. There are a few tricks to using them - use much less liquid than you would normally for stew-type things; cook onion beforehand (I put the ceramic inner dish in the microwave and zap them sprayed with a little oil before I add the meat) and use much less spice etc - it seems to intensify more in the slow cooker. Bong appetite!

Quatrefoil said...

I'm in Tom's camp - I just cook my casseroles on the weekend, freeze them in single serves, with rice or pasta, and microwave them with fresh veg when I get home. I thought about a slow cooker, but there doesn't seem much point for a single person.

Graeme said...

Cooking, knitting....you're transforming into Carol Brady or the mother in Leave It To Beaver. If I catch you wearing a shawl I'll be quite distressed!

LaDivaCucina said...

For a shortcut but still home made taste, buy a bbq chook, take off all the meat and then make the stock from the bones. You'll get a very rich flavored stock from the pre-cooked chicken.

For even richer flavour, roast bite sized carrots and parsnips in olive oil in a hot oven and add to the stock just before serving. Very nice, caramelised and sweet veggies! Hope you are back to your sweet self!

Ur-spo said...

making homemade chicken soup remains one of the great pleasures of life.
It seems to touch on something Archetypal even !

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

so glad the Bay is handy :-)

I am right there with you TOA, I've been a stock making fool the last couple of weeks. been saving all my vegie scraps, peelings and wilty bits in a box in the fridge and boiling up a stock. I have to say, a bit of potato and a few old tomatoes make it richer if you're looking for a heartier stock... but I used a Massel stock cube, is that very cheaty?

last week I made Minestone (which we decided is Minstrone without the pasta) and this week was pea and ham.

we love our slow cooker but I still think it should be orange and brown, and it'll ALWAYS be a Crock Pot! I can't afford the big cast iron cookers and... here's a secret... my wee girlie wrists crack under the weight of getting them in and out of the oven. sometimes they are seriously too heavy to lug when they're full.

yani said...

Damn but you make all these June Cleaver stuff sound fun :)

And because I'm generally clueless without some kind of structure, you just take the whole chicken, put it in a pot, add veg and cover with water?

I also think I have the EXACT same Crockpot as WP&SB...

The Other Andrew said...

T&H made risotto with a tub of stock from the freezer tonight. See, the gift that keeps on giving! (Especially when someone else is doing the cooking.)

I have some good caserole dishes but I think it's the set and forget-ness of the slow cooker I'm aiming for. To leave it going while I'm at work. Mum used it this way when I was younger, and I have fond memories of yummy dishes.

Laura, I'll have to give roasted bones and veggies a try. Mmmmm, caramelisation!

Yani, that's basically it. Chicken and veggies into the pot, cover with cold water, bring to a simmer, skim the scum off the top (you only have to do this early on) and keep it barely simmering for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Volia. The chicken falls apart and can be used in heaps of things. I don't add salt until I use the stock, better than making it too salty.

bernard said...

Caramelised Pork Belly and chicken soup.

Honey; when did this happen to you???

Slow cooker is hard to go past.