Chicken soup is a comfort food for Jan and she has had a busy week. Monday was high stress university budget meeting, where she was standing in for the dean. Tuesday, she was the “relevant parent” for Eilene’s registration into college. Wednesday and Thursday she was working at a conference up in Sausalito that our older daughter, Myr, was running. I knew that she would want something for dinner tonight that would help calm her down.
For many of my recipes I end up having bought some vegetables that are not needed for the current dish, but that are not enough for new separate dish of their own. One russet potato, half a green pepper or red onion, left over cauliflower and a bit of cabbage, what do you do with such an odd assortment of things? I make chicken soup.
This recipe is never the same twice, because what vegetables go into it depends entirely on what I have on hand. I do try to get a balance of colors, starch and flavors, but it is always different. This is what I produced today.
Karl’s Refrigerator Chicken Soup
2 Tbs. butter
1 lb. chicken (1)
1 medium yellow onion
½ medium red onion
½ cup celery
½ cup baby carrots
1 cup cabbage
1 cup cauliflower
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup sweet green pepper
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. black pepper
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 cup Russet potato, small dice
¼ cup dry pasta
½ cup dry white wine
1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and brown the chicken well. Remove the chicken to a bowl. When it is cool enough to handle cut it into bite sized pieces.
Tip: You can use whatever chicken you have on hand. Today I had 1½ breasts and 2 thighs but you can use any combination you have. For the thick chicken breast I like to cut them into two thin steaks to increase the browned bits of chicken.
2. Coarsely chop all of the vegetables.
3. When you have removed the chicken from the pot add the onions and celery and use the moisture released from the vegetables to deglaze the fond (the brown bits of chicken stuck to the hot surface of the pot).
Note: The left over half a red onion was not enough for the soup, so I added some yellow onion.
4. When the onions are starting to pick up some color, add the carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower. Stir fry for three more minutes.
Note: While I always have baby carrots on hand for lunches, I had an eighth of a head of cabbage and a couple of cauliflower florets left from previous meals that were in danger of spoiling. Waste not, want not.
5. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the bare spot in the middle. Stir fry the garlic for 30 seconds and then mix it into the other vegetables.
6. Add the green pepper, thyme, black pepper, chicken broth, Russet potato, dry pasta and white wine.
Note: You may notice that I do not add any extra salt, the salt in the chicken broth is enough for us, but if you must you may add more.
Note: I had half a sweet green pepper and one Russet potato left over from a soup I made last week, so into the pot they went.
7. Bring the pot to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Note: I added the pasta because I felt that one potato was not enough starch for four people (Eilene had a guest tonight). I decided to use some Cavatelli that I had left over from my Italian wedding soup. I also happened to have half a cup of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Kona, that was cluttering up my refrigerator so in it went.
8. Just before the potatoes are cooked though and the pasta is al dente, add the chicken pieces to the pot. Simmer for five more minutes to heat them through and serve.