Not Your Grandmother’s Chicken Soup!
This chicken soup looks sweet and innocent and well, like any other homemade chicken soup (see above photo) but…it’s not. Imagine your grandmother dabbling a bit with the goth look. Don’t be afraid: she’s still the sweet grandmother you know and love, but she’s wearing black boots, black nail polish and/or lots of black eyeliner! Ok, so this is chicken soup and looks like it, but there’s definitely something different and that’s what makes it so great. I’ve made chicken soup every way you can think of: boiling whole chickens, roasting the carcass and then boiling that – you name it, I’ve done it. Then why make this? Because it’s just different enough while still being chicken soup and it’s easy. And then you ask, what makes it so different? Cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, and red pepper flakes. Oh, and the easy comes into play since you don’t have to strain anything. So, I found myself again last week looking at snow and warming up just thinking about that soup…
Once the soup was finished I was back outside to take pictures of not only the soup (placed on the snow-covered picnic table), but that bread and the tree house (hmmmm very gothic looking, isn’t it?)
while wearing my favorite hat (Let’s Go Flyers!)…
and loving the snow but thinking about what that tree house will look like in a few months. Peek-a-boo I see you behind all those leaves!
I am passionate about many things: my family, friends, books, music, food and cooking, this blog and (drumroll please)…the Flyers!! Sometimes I can’t believe how much I love hockey. If you met me, I don’t think you would get this right away (unless maybe I had my hat on). Someone recently raised their eyebrows in surprise at my revelation. Now that you know, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I fantasize about making this soup for the team before one of their games which they win (of course) and owe it all to…the soup (ahem) and me.
Gothic Chicken Soup
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken legs and thighs (or breasts if you prefer, but it’s not very goth!), skin and excess fat removed
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, rough chopped
- 4 ribs of celery, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch of thyme, tied into a bundle with kitchen string
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 Cups small pasta (or rice or Gluten Free pasta to make it Gluten Free)
- 1, 15 oz. can white beans or chick peas (optional)
- 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with the olive oil and add the onions, celery and carrots. Season with salt to taste and bring the pot to medium-high heat. Cook the vegetables until they start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and thyme bundle and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken and fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken. Add the bay leaves, bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes and skim the foam (scum) from the surface by running a spoon around the edge of the pot. The “scum” is proteins and fats released from the bones and meat and will stop in about 20-30 minutes. It’s normal and will not make you sick. Visually, it’s just not pretty and will make the broth/soup cloudy if not skimmed off.
Squeeze the juice of the 2 lemon halves over your hand (to strain the seeds) and into the soup and drop in the lemon halves. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Simmer the soup for 1 more hour.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the rice or pasta according to the directions on the package. Toss with a bit of olive oil and reserve.
After the soup is finished, turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the lemon halves, thyme and bay leaves. Let the chicken cool enough to handle, remove the meat and discard the bones. Return the meat to the pot and taste for seasoning. The soup should be spicy and have a warm, lemony, cinnamon-chicken flavor. Adjust the seasoning if needed and if using, rinse and drain the beans and add them to the pot. Spoon some pasta or rice into the bottom of a serving bowl and ladle the soup over the pasta. Garnish with the cilantro, if using, and serve with, of course, that bread.
Credit: Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell