Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup in Natural Light - my personal photo (The Souper 2012)

When I was a little kid home with a bad cold, my nose stuffy, chills running through my body from a fever and all I wanted was to be comforted and be held in loving arms. With a scratchy throat I did not want to eat anything solid that I had to chew and I did not want to talk.
Ah, but then warm, soothing relief came in the form of a bowl with steam rising out of it. My Mom brought me her homemade cold remedy, Chicken Soup! As the steamy bowl of soup came closer to my face, breathing became a little bit easier. Then a spoonful of hot soup reached my mouth. My dry lips from breathing from my mouth felt moistened as soothing liquid entered my waiting lips. The first drops of this salty, tasty warmth slid down my sore throat. "Mmmm," automatically came as my first words since being sick. I wanted more soothing soup immediately. I began spooning this miracle liquid faster. The warmth ran through my body and then my nose started to drip from the hot steam of the soup and I reached for the tissue box. Yes, I was beginning to breathe again. What a miracle!

Fresh Chicken Soup is easy to prepare. Prepare some for your family and friends. A big potful of soup will make several quarts. Freeze some for the times when you need this wonderful relief from a cold and congestion. Or when you just want comforting memories, defrost and heat a quart of fresh Chicken Soup and get your bowl and spoon ready for your treat.

What you will need:
One large soup pot with matching lid
One whole fresh chicken (about 3 lbs) or assorted chicken parts of choice.
One large onion, fresh
Carrots – 3-4, fresh
Celery – 1-2 stalks, fresh
Parsnips – aka white carrots (optional), 1-2 fresh
Cold water – enough just to cover the chicken (NOT to fill whole pot)
Kosher salt – several tablespoons to begin with. Add more to flavor when final tasting the soup.
Soup ladle
Small bowl
Large spoon
Large spoons with holes or strainer with handle
Large bowl or platter

Preparing Chicken Soup:
Take out any inner plastic bag full of giblets, remove chicken neck for soup but other giblets not needed for the soup.
Rinse fresh chicken (inside and out) or chicken parts with cold water and pat dry.
Put the chicken or chicken parts into the large soup pot
Add cold water only to cover the top of the chicken, not any more. This will make a more flavorful chicken broth instead of a watery, diluted broth.
Cover the pot with matching lid and turn stove burner to medium high heat.
Wash, dry and peel carrots, celery and/or parsnips.
Peel the whole onion and do not cut it.
When you hear the water boiling or see steam escaping from under the lid, carefully take off the lid and turn down the heat of the stove burner to medium heat.
At this time take a large spoon with a small bowl to collect the foam off the top of the soup. This is called skimming.
Discard all of the foam that you have collected from skimming the soup.
While the soup is still at a rolling boil, add the vegetables.
Add the Kosher salt
Return the lid partially back on the soup pot while cooking continues.
Lower the stove burner to low heat.
Continue to cook the soup for about an hour and a half to two hours. The chicken should be floating to the top of the pot and the meat should be tender.
Carefully taste the soup for salt content. Add more Kosher salt at this time to your personal taste.
Turn off the stove burner under the pot, remove the lid.

Serving chicken soup:
Carefully lift the chicken or chicken parts out of the pot with large spoons with holes or strainer with handle. Put chicken in/on a large bowl or platter. Let chicken cool a bit and then take meat off the bones. Discard skin and bones of the chicken.
Remove the celery, onion and parsnips from the soup pot and discard.
Keep the cooked carrots for serving in the bowl of soup.
Ladle soup into a small serving bowl with pieces of the soft, cooked carrot.
Add some cooked chicken meat into the bowl.
Now enjoy a steaming bowl of wonderful, flavorful homemade chicken soup
Options: add some soup crackers to your bowl or cooked thin soup noodles or small pasta.