The Distracted Cook Makes Chicken Soup

It is a really good thing that The Daring Cook’s challenge was to make a stock and then use it in a soup. Because shortly after The Distracted Cook started looking at recipes, the dreaded “summer cold with delightful sore throat” got me in its clutches and is still hanging around as I type this. Believing in the Old Wives’ Tale that Chicken Soup cures all ills, I decided it would be Chicken Stock and Chicken Soup that I made in this challenge. I also was attempting, once again, a sourdough starter into wonderful bread recipe so that just about settled it once and for all. Chicken Stock into Chicken Soup with Sourdough Bread as an accompaniment. Good Luck!

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consomme”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consomme if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes.

If you are reading a lot of the Daring Cook challenge blogs, you will notice that in each one we all have a particular paragraph such as that above that is the same in each blog for the month. That is what holds us all together as Daring Cooks and it is by us all using these same words that we are allowed to participate again the next time around. If YOU would like to participate with us, just visit the The Daring Kitchen and read all about what we are doing and sign up to join in the fun. I promise you will be glad you did!

I first started off the sourdough starter so that by the time the soup was ready the next day the bread would be ready to bake. Here is what the starter looked like after I fed it and let it sit on the counter for a few hours:

Having gotten that started I began the chicken stock adventure. I have always loved to make chicken stock and rather than using one of the recipes that Peta provided, I decided to use the one I usually make. First I put two pounds of chicken wings cut into pieces, along with two tablespoons of olive oil, into a roasting pan and into the hottest oven they go. Just like this;

 They will roast in there for about 45 minutes or until they are nice and brown. I scrape up all the bits and then throw a scraped and chopped carrot in with them along side half a stalk of celery, chopped, and half an onion chopped. Into that I toss  four peeled cloves of garlic.

 It all gets stirred up and then shoved back into the oven for another 20 minutes. Be careful, if your oven is one that really gets hot you might end up with bits and pieces of charcoal — I speak from experience.

After the chicken and vegetables are done, pull the pan out and put it on top of the stove. Add six cups of cold water, bring it to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly and then strain through a fine mesh strainer. After it was strained, I poured it into a big stainless steel bowl and refrigerated it overnight, which means in the morning I could lift the fat layer off. I wish that I had taken a picture of this – it was the nicest, darkish brown stock that I have made in a long while. I usually don’t bother straining it because I immediately turn it into soup. I was contemplating the Consomme challenge, but my better sense got a hold of me and I declined.

I wish I could say that I took pictures of the next steps, but I didn’t do that either! About that time I started sinking into the depths of misery that a cold brings with it. The next day I did  decide rather quickly to chop 2 carrots and  2 large stalks of celery and throw them into the pot that I had poured the stock into. I removed the layer of congealed fat and thought about what to do with it, but just threw it back into the fridge until I knew what I figured it out! I added about a cup of fresh corn off the cob and a handful of lima beans from the garden to the other vegetables and let it simmer until they were tender. Then I added some chopped tarragon along with some diced cooked chicken left over from a roast the night before. And then I sat and waited until it was nice and steamy hot all the way through. And then….ahhh. There is nothing better to soothe a sore throat than Chicken Soup made from your own home made Chicken Stock. Oh yes, the bread?

I almost had a success there. It is getting better, I must admit. And the next time there is a Soup Challenge in The Daring Kitchen I will hope to have a really good loaf to go with my soup!

The Distracted Cook and The Therapeutic Kitchen

The Weekword for this week is therapeutic.  Domestic Scribbles chose this word and it is always interesting to see how each of use uses the word. Everyone needs a little therapy somewhere, somehow. And I have determined that the place for The Distracted Cook to encounter therapeutic methods of treating a disease or condition is in The Therapeutic Kitchen. I am going to just jump to the bottom line here and say outright that cooking is therapy for whatever ails you.

Try standing there with a knife in your hand and tell me that isn’t therapeutic. It’s just the legal and polite way to get rid of those aggressions, to just release all that tension, and to get dinner underway all at once. Yesterday was a really cold day around here and everyone was thinking “soup.” If you’ve been to the grocery store at all this week you know that they all are talking up the Super Bowl and Buffalo Wings. So this is the perfect time to make some chicken soup and some chicken stock while the stores are overflowing with chicken wings.

A dear friend gave me her recipe for chicken stock and I have been using it for a long while now. But, of course, The Distracted Cook makes changes – or just plain forgets what’s what and starts tossing things in the pot. It’s a simple recipe, or maybe a method, for making this stock. All you need is:

Therapeutic Chicken Stock

2# chicken wings (this is just an estimate in The Therapeutic Kitchen – more or less is just as good)
Olive oil – a few slugs or glurgs worth
1 carrot – chopped
1 onion ( or half an onion if you are not keen on onions) -chopped
1 stalk celery (more or less) – chopped
a handful of garlic cloves – skins removed, garlic cloves left whole

Turn the oven on as high as it will go -( or until your smoke alarm goes off because the remains of that last baked cake have caught on fire) and let it preheat while you prepare the chicken wings.

Cut the chicken wings apart at the joints.

Place cut wings  into a shallow pan so that they make one layer.

Pour Olive Oil over wings and mix so they are coated with oil.

Open the oven door and step back! SMOKE!  Wait until you can see into the oven and find the racks. Place pan on rack and shut the oven door, fast!

Set your timer for about 15 minutes or until the kitchen fills with smoke again. Stir the wings and check to be sure they are browning well.

Here is where The Distracted Cook makes some changes. The original recipe said to leave the wings in the oven at 450 -550 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes or until they were all golden brown and crunchy. The Distracted Cook turns the heat down after the first 15 minutes and lets it finish out at about 350 degrees and it takes about 30 minutes. I suppose if you had a professional kitchen with all those great vents and fans it wouldn’t make such a big mess, but in my kitchen – the fire trucks are on the way!

Take the pan out of the oven and place the wings into a stock pot on the stove.

Take the chopped vegetables and garlic cloves that you have waiting and dump them into the hot pan from the oven, stir them up in the oil that is still hot from the first round in the oven.

Place the pan back in the oven and let these vegetables roast for about 15 minutes, turning them every so often. The original recipe said to dump the vegetables in the pan with the chicken still in there and put it all back in the oven for the final 15 minutes. Well, if you like blackened vegetables and charred chicken wings, go ahead and do it that way! Not me. I learned the hard way.

Remove the pan of vegetables from the oven and put the vegetables into the stockpot with the chicken wings.

 Place the pan from the oven  on the stovetop. Pour about two or three cups of water into the pan and stir it around to loosen all the golden bits of chicken and vegetables from the bottom. Let it come to a boil, then pour it into the stockpot.

Add about 4 more cups of water to the stockpot and bring to a low simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and strain the stock into a clean container. Let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate – or make soup right then and there for dinner!

If you want some good soup right now, chop some more vegetables, add the meat from the chicken wings and maybe some noodles,rice, or dumplings. If you want to add a secret flavor to all of this, go cut some fresh tarragon and put a few leaves in the soup. Of course if your tarragon has already frozen from this winter weather it may be hard to get some fresh leaves. I had to dig down underneath the oak leaves and acorns to find some baby leaves just emerging. But that was enough! Magic! Therapeutic! Brilliant!

It is easy to see how this can become a therapy session right here in the kitchen. All that chopping, stirring, jumping back from the hot oven and all that smoke – therapeutic and you get your aerobics in too!