Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick Chicken Soup For the Cold

There's no worse feeling than having a cold or flu.
Jack woke this morning with the sniffles and a sore throat so I knew we were in for some sort of germ invasion.
We were pretty good in the cold and flu OTC type things, but what Jack needed was some good old fashioned home made chicken soup!

Jack's face brightened beneath the kleenex as I offered to make him some.  There's just something about the stuff...the mere mention of its name sends shivers up the spines of many cold and flu germ!

As luck would have it, I'd been defrosting some chicken thighs in the fridge overnight.  The fridge wasn't brimming, but still had a good selection of soup-worthy options.  I didn't want to make a heavy soup, Jack's sore throat didn't need a lot of challenges. 
I decided to steam some broccoli, carrots and string beans after cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Some onion and garlic are always a good addition.

A lot of people just throw everything into a pot, pour water over the mess, set the heat to medium and let it boil away half the day.   I've tried it like that and to me that's just not soup!  The meat gets so dried out, the veggies get hopelessly limp and mushy, and the only way to get a definable flavor is to salt the poor thing to within an inch of its life.

Cooking isn't just about making food hot, it's about making food delicious.  That requires finding ways to bring out its flavors.  With soup, you can do that by seasoning your pan.  As you're chopping up veggies, throw some odd pieces in the bottom of a pan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.  Same thing with bones.

See those brown bits that start sticking to the pan?  They're "flavoreins,"....very special combined bits of numminess made possible by the cooking process. Don't let your pan bottom burn.  Once you have a nice collection of golden brown bits, you're done with that process.  Turn off the heat, add some water or broth and stir the flavoreins loose.
You'll notice how the water starts turning into broth.

Strain off the old bones and bits. Their usefulness is done.
At this point, you'll want to add some other ingredients...namely any "hard" veggies you might have.  Things like potatoes, carrots and so on. They take time and the broth is a perfect vehicle for cooking 'em!
Let all that simmer for about 10 - 12 minutes or so, until the veggies are pretty much cooked.  Test it with a fork, the items should be done, but not mushy.

Then it's all about adding everything together.  I add cut up ramen noodles this time.  They only take about three minutes to cook and are a nice alternative to thick egg noodles.
Make sure to add the meat last, that way it won't get overcooked. Taste and make any spicing adjustments.  Then serve.  This bit of Kitchen Penicillin is just what the doctor ordered for cold and flu season.

As always, feel free to submit your recipes for sharing! Include your name (or an alias if you prefer) and you'll get full credit.  Above all else, Enjoy!