Monday, September 23, 2013

My awesometastic chicken soup

So, like all good bloggers, this is really just someone else's recipe accompanied with my own quips. The name clearly needs work. I thought "Blitzed Chicken Soup" sounded good, but we're talking about blending, not bombing, so maybe not. It just sounded right. Suggestions are welcome.

The why:
I'm currently following a kind of elimination diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (read about it here). This recipe is one of the very first recipes you are supposed to be eating, EXCLUSIVELY. Okay, meat is fine, but the point is to be very specific with your vegetables. Well, initially, you cook it all with the celery & onions, but then remove those & blend the carrots solo (then mix it back with the broth & chicken). The reason is that it's highly digestible for anyone with gut disorders. Carrots are magical, let me tell you, and PUREED carrots are a godsend. You add the other veggies back in, one at a time, over a week or a few days, to try them out and see how your body reacts. I'm lazy and still not sure about onions, but eating them anyway. So brilliant.

The what:

  • a whole chicken (I go with the 4-5 lb range, trying to pick the air-chilled free-range chix at Whole Foods, but anything is good, really)
  • 1 lb of carrots (I tend to get Trader Joe's organic)
  • 1 bag (probably a lb) of celery hearts (again, TJ's organic)
  • 1 medium-large onion (I usually get yellow)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Garlic would probably be good, but I haven't added it myself
  • A splash of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is awesome and you should use it if you have it)
  • A good stock pot that will fit everything, plus tongs, some large mixing bowls, and probably a slotted spoon
  • Water to cover chicken & veg once they're in the pot
The how:
  1. Prep your veggies. You can peel your carrots if you like, but in the end, they should be chopped up (don't obsess, appearance is not a factor here) and in the stock pot. I buy the organic veggies so I don't have to bother with rinsing, though I probably still should.
  2. Unpack your chicken & get it in the pot. If there's a giblet bag in the chicken, you could totally put the innards into a little baggy made of cheesecloth & twine to get the nutrients from the offal (guts), but it's not required. I chop up the liver, heart, and kidneys (or whatever else is in there) and feed it to my cat. 'Cause she's my fat little predator. I can't get her to nibble on the neck bones, though that would be very good for her teeth.
  3. Add water, add salt, add pepper, splash your vinegar into the pot. This is really easy. You can do it. I believe in you. Just get enough water to cover everything. If your chicken floats (I am cursed by this as well, or is it very common?), just push it down so you know the water WOULD cover it and then leave it. I totally eyeball the spice amounts. If I get a kind of light layer over the whole surface of the water w/ the pepper, I figure that's good. I just pour the salt, really no idea how much I add. If you get it wrong, it's really right, so don't worry about it. I love salt.
  4. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to let it simmer for 4 hours. If you're swift, unlike me, you can get this going when you get home from work and probably finish it before bedtime. I go to bed relatively early because I'm old people, so I either do this on a weekend or stay up a little later to get this all done. The thing about simmering is it may take a bit of tweaking & hearing your stovetop hiss and you running in to rescue your soup a few times to get the temperature/heat/flame/whatever right. When I first started cooking, I had a hard time with this. Do I turn it up to 11*? On my awful, awful ceramic stovetop, I can turn the burner down to 3 or 4 after it heats up and that might even be too high for the total cooking period. I had it on "low", which is not even a number, by the last hour the last time I made this soup.
  5. Okay, I told you this was easy, but I partially lied. Now you need to segregate your soup parts. You can use bowls, and colanders, or tongs or whatever works for you to get the chicken separated from the veggies. If you're not using all the veggies, the unused ones go straight in the trash. If you are, get them moving into your blender or food processor with the broth. It might take a few batches to blend it all. After blending, move that to your final containers for storage (or a bit in a bowl for eating now, whatever you are doing). You can use a food processor for the veggies and leave out the broth, but my Ninja blender works really well w/ the liquid & veggies so I do that. Be careful, it's hot.
  6. The chicken is also a pain, but since it's been cooked so thoroughly, it's super easy to disassemble. Peel off the skin & make a game out of trying to get really big pieces, but throw it out. Yes, we're throwing the skin out. I find that it makes the soup too fatty, and while I love animal fat like it's my job and don't think it's bad for you, it just doesn't work in soup for me. The bones also get discarded, and that takes a bit in my experience because there are too many tiny bones. The vinegar breaks down the bones a bit to get lots of nutrients out of them and into the soup, so if you do run into some bone while eating, you shouldn't acquire any damage unless your teeth are very, very soft. I found a vertebra in my soup for lunch today and contemplating chewing & eating it. With the chicken meat, use your tongs or forks or whatever and shred it. Like it's your job. (There are a lot of jobs in this recipe.) Distribute the shredded chicken meat into your blended broth & veggies. Voila, it's done, it's perfect, it's thick, and DELICIOUS. Eat up!
If you are an obsessive keeper-of-glass-jars like I am, you can freeze this soup for future use. Just make sure to leave some room at the top for the liquid to expand once frozen (less than an inch, if we're talking 16 oz jars from almond butter or coconut oil, but probably more than 1/2 an inch).

This makes a very large bowl of soup. I don't know how big my mixing bowls are, but you'll have to trust me. I eat a bit for lunch basically every day and it lasts about a week, I think. But then I had my husband taste it, so it'll probably last for a few days now.

*My stovetop does not go up to 11. Does yours? Badass.

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