Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

February 5, 2015

 

 

Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . .

It’s early February and that means cold where we live – perfect weather for soup. This week, I felt I might be coming down with a cold, so I thought a soup with ginger in it would really hit the spot. I recently filed away this recipe from Bon Appetit, so when I searched for something to make it was at the top of the pile. Randy and I both agreed that we would make this again. Once the ingredients were assembled, it came together in about 45 minutes. Who can ask for more on a cold weeknight?!

Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-moons

1/2 to 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 quarts chicken stock or broth

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 cups baby spinach

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cooked small pasta, optional

Lime wedges (for serving)

Snowy Day

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March.  I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already!  So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring.  Perfect for a day like today!  Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough.  He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much.  He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad.  After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe.  So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor.  Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!

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This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients.  Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small zucchini, small dice

1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper

9 cups chicken stock

1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available

1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)

2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery.  Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic  zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to over-stir.

Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta.  Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).

Chicken Stock

October 16, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I like to have lots of chicken stock on hand in my freezer so that when recipes call for it, I don’t have to use store-bought.  Not that I have never used store-bought stock or broth, but I don’t like the taste or the texture of boxed or canned chicken stock when compared to homemade.  And it’s so easy to make!   You can use fresh chicken as the basis – backs/necks, pieces like wings/legs or a whole chicken if you want lots of  meat to use in a soup or to make chicken salad, etc.   Bones are important for flavoring the stock, so using boneless/skinless chicken doesn’t work so well.  Or you can start with a leftover roasted chicken carcass.  I prefer the fresh  for its lighter and cleaner taste, but I always make stock when I’ve roasted a chicken, making sure my freezer doesn’t run out!  This is best done as a 2-day process so that you can de-fat the broth.

Margaux says . . .

I’m totally like Suzy, and always like to have broth in my freezer.  I can’t believe that I used to not care!  There’s such a difference in flavor and texture.  I make recipes that call for whole chickens cut up at least twice a month, and always buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself so that I have the back, neck and wings to make broth out of.  I use a big All-Clad pot that has a big pasta basket in it, so that when the broth is done I can just lift the basket out with the vegetables and chicken.  Then I cool the stock in the pot overnight, skim it in the morning, and then I pour it through a sieve into containers…taking the big stuff out first eliminates splashes!

Simple Chicken Stock

Place the chicken base of your choice as described above in a large dutch oven or soup pot.   Add water to about 3 inches below the rim.  To this, add the tops off of one bunch of celery, two unpeeled carrots cut in 2-3 pieces and one unpeeled onion cut into 4 chunks.  Add 2 bay leaves, 2 dried chiles (optional), 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Salt and pepper are also optional if you want to wait to season whatever dishes you make with the stock.   Add more water to bring to about 1 inch from the rim of the pot.  I am using a 6-quart All Clad stock pot.

Bring to a boil which will likely take about 15 minutes.  I set a timer for 12 minutes and then watch the pot so it doesn’t boil over.  Speaking from experience, you do not want this to boil over and run down into your burner pans!!  Not a fun clean-up job.  When it has come to a boil, skim off the foam, then turn down the heat and simmer at a bubble for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  Turn off the heat and let rest for about 15 mintues.  Remove the chicken from the pot and place in a bowl to cool.  (Once cool, remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones.)

Pour the liquid into a bowl (or bowls) through a strainer to strain out the vegetables.

Let the stock cool in the bowls, then cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, you will be able to skim off the fat that has risen to the top and somewhat solidified.   I use paper towels to do this.

Now you have defatted chicken stock that you can use immediately or place in pint or quart containers to freeze for use at a later date.

Aunt Suzy says . . . You can add all kinds of aromatics to the pot before cooking –  garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, parsley, thyme, etc., etc.  I don’t add these things unless I will be using the stock immediately in a recipe where the flavors are compatible.  I stick to the celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves and pepper so that the stock has a more neutral taste.  This insures it won’t overpower or conflict with the flavors in the recipes where I use the stock.   Today, I got 5 quarts from this recipe that didn’t cost more than $5 total for the chicken backs/necks and the vegetables.  They sell home-made stock at two places in my nieghborhood for $7-9/quart!  Maybe I should go into the chicken stock biz :-).

Aunt Suzy says

It’s soup weather and this recipe is perfect for this time of year.  It uses pumpkin and sweet corn, and there is a very narrow slice of time when fresh sweet corn and winter squash are both available locally.  This soup is tied for first on my list of favorites with Rosemary and White Bean Soup.  I can’t wait for this time of year to make this recipe, and it’s just cool enough out today for soup.  A Viognier was recommended as a wine pairing for this soup – a French version goes perfectly!

The Pumpkin

1 small sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Cut the pumpkin or squash in half, seed and cut into 1 1/4-inch slices.  I like the pumpkin flavor better, but squash is good if you can’t find the little sugar pumpkins.  Brush the slices lightly with vegetable oil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until just tender.  Don’t overcook or it will get mushy when added to the soup.  Let cool and then remove and discard the skin.  Cut into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.

The Soup Base

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo (from a can)

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1 1/2 cups cooked black or pink beans

(This is a pic of my mise en place for this phase of the soup.  I love knowing this term, which I learned recently from this interesting N Y Times magazine article on cooking prep.)  In a large dutch oven or soup pot, saute the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes until soft.  Turn up the heat a little and cook until the onion starts to brown.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a slow simmer.  Rinse, seed and thinly slice the chipotle peppers then add to the broth.  I recommend starting with one and seeing how much heat it adds to the soup, adding the second one if you’d like to amp it up a little.  Simmer the broth with the pepper for a couple of minutes and then add the pumpkin, corn and beans.  Simmer over moderate heat for 15 minutes.  COOK’S NOTES:  This can be done a day ahead of time.  If so, reheat before going on to completing the soup.  For a vegetarian version of this soup, use mock chicken broth powder to make the broth.  Substitute brown rice or tofu or both or none for the chicken in the next step.

Completing/Serving the Soup

2 cups diced chicken meat

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 ripe Haas avocado, sliced

Stir the chicken into the broth and cook until just heated through – do not boil.  Add the lime juice, the cilantro and season with salt. COOK’S NOTE:  I use more cilantro and less chicken, sometimes omitting the chicken altogether.  You can use chicken from making the stock, leftover rotisserie chicken, or (as I did this time), bake a couple of chicken breasts or thighs.

Ready to serve!   Ladle the soup into large soup bowls.  Pass the lime wedges and avocado.