March 2, 2009

Four Out of Five Ain't Bad

(Photo courtesy of Google)

Last night I made chicken soup by winging it. I don't wing it too often. Now, this blog is not supposed to show off what a great cook/homemaker I am, it is to share what I've learned, and to help me remember what I've done that works and what doesn't. So, I'm going to tell you the good and the bad. Here is how to make it in three levels of detail:

Christy's Easy 4 Out of 5 Chicken Soup

Chicken broth

Simmer the chicken in chicken broth until can use frozen chicken, just simmer longer. Skim frothy junk off top.
Take out chicken.
Strain broth and put back in pot.
Chop carrots, celery, and onion fine, or better yet, use an electric chopper to make your life easier.
Throw the super chopped vegetables into the chicken broth.
Add uncooked rice.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up chicken into small pieces (use that electric chopper already!)
When timer goes off after 15 minutes, add chicken to pot, heat through and voila, you are done.

Now, I like chunky soup, but on a whim I chopped everything up fine to appeal to my picky eaters and it worked. Something about everything being small made it easier to handle eating stuff-all-put-together-and-not-separated-or-even-touching.

Okay, here are the specifics, if you are like me and have to know EXACTLY what I did:

First, I buy large packages of Purdue boneless, skinless chicken at my wholesale club (I go to BJ'S). This chicken comes in individual 1/2 (or thereabout) pound packages. I love them because I throw them all in the freezer and then easily take out as much as I want. They are sealed in a heavy plastic which makes it very easy to get the chicken out of the packaging while still frozen. Just run it under hot water for 5 seconds, cut off the end and slide out. I had both boneless thighs and tenderloins so I took out some of each. I used three packages.

Now this is where it gets costly. I buy the cartons of chicken broth (much better than canned IMO). You could use water and bouillon cubes but I've done this before and it is more oily, blah. You could also start with a whole chicken, make your own broth, etc, but then you can forget about the quick and easy part. Pour in enough broth to cover chicken.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer (near low) for 30 minutes (because they were frozen solid). Another advantage to chopping the chicken up fine is if you overcooked it no one will notice if it's tough. Or, if you undercooked it it will easily finish cooking when you put it back in the soup.

I used 4 medium carrots, about 5 small celery stalks, and a medium onion. The advantage to chopping the onion really small is that picky eaters may not see it.

I used 2 cups of rice (I had about 8 cups of broth). This was too much. We wound up with chicken and rice. No soup. It was still good though. You could cook the rice separate but then it wouldn't get the advantage of the chicken broth and it would make more work. My youngest reminded me AFTER I put in the rice that I promised I would use the pasta stars I have in the pantry the next time I made soup. So, you could use small pasta too. I have no idea how much you would want to put in. When I do make it I'll probably cook it separately, or follow a recipe.

This made tons of food. And four out of 5 in my family not only ATE it, but actually LIKED it.

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