Thursday, September 15, 2016

Chicken Soup for the 'Bers.

Hello Everyone!
Its September and its time to start settling in and blogging again.  I don't know about you, but with the beginning of the fall, I get more industrious and want to start crafting and writing- maybe because these are activities that I like to do outside when the weather is cool.  Best of all, the holidays are just around the corner!  For me, that means gearing up for the holiday season with preparing for Halloween by doing several spooky crafts.  But first, I promised Jeff Johnson from Jeff and Company on Classic Hits 103.3 that I would give my two chicken noodle soup recipes for the onset of the time of year the he likes to call "the Bers".
Last week we were discussing that a Yale study scientifically proved the old adage "feed a cold and starve a fever".  This is a phrase that I have known all of my life and is a practice that I live by.  So I was very gratified to know that it is not just an old wives tale.
Scientific studies are verifying a lot of "wives tales", one that I had been aware of was about chicken noodle soup. I had read a few years ago that some scientists have been running tests on homemade chicken noodle soup and how it may be just as effective in curing cold symptoms as over the counter medicine.  Below is a link to the New York Times that shows that talks about the science of Chicken soup:

I don't know if this works for canned chicken noodle soup, but I do remember that it worked with homemade chicken noodle soup, so below are my two best recipes.  Sorry I don't have pictures for these, but I haven't had the need to make soup yet this year.
I have a soup tureen that looks just like the one the lady in this ad is holding.  Mine is white, but I love to break it out for the holidays and serve a soup before the main meal.

"Homemade" Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is homemade insomuch as it does not come from a can, however any real "old fashioned" grandmother would not call this recipe homemade. I like to make this recipe when I have leftover chicken from a roast chicken and I am feeling lazy.  This recipe also works great for any leftover turkey you may have after Thanksgiving.

1/2 cup onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cans (14 oz. each) low sodium chicken broth, or 2 cups homemade chicken broth
2 cups water
1 envelope Good Seasonings Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
1/2 cup bite sized pasta, uncooked

1.  Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan on medium high heat.  Once oil is hot, cook onion, carrot and celery for three to five minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
2.  Slowly stir in chicken broth, water and dressing mix.
3. Add turkey and pasta; cover.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Serve warm with oyster crackers.

Major Homemade Chicken Soup

This soup recipe is not for the weak of heart.  It takes some time.  So, you may ask, unless I am making it for someone who is ill and I, myself, am not ill, why would I make this recipe?  Good question.  The answer is, if you do not cook the pasta in the last ten minutes of cooking time, this soup freezes extremely well.  Which is good thing because, unlike most Frugal Femme recipes, this recipes makes enough to feed a small army.  I like to make some at the beginning of the "Bers." and freeze it in single serving sizes.  At the end of this recipe, I will give instructions on how to freeze and then defrost the soup when you are ready to eat it.

1 whole chicken (I usually use a fryer chicken)
3 quarts low- sodium chicken broth or 3 quarts homemade chicken broth
6 carrots
4 stalks celery
3 medium onions
5 black peppercorns
1 clove garlic
10 sprigs parsley
2 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 leeks
1 tsp. fresh-ground pepper
Kosher salt to taste
1 tsp. dried Herbs de Provence, (optional, this depends on how flavorful your broth turns out)
1-2 tsp. dried dill
3 cups medium egg noodles or pasta of your choice

1.  Place the chicken and the chicken broth in a VERY large stock pot and set it over medium heat. 
2.  Roughly chop 2 carrots, 2 celery ribs, and one onion and add to broth.
3.  Add the peppercorns, garlic, 2 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf and enough water to just cover the chicken.
4.  Bring the broth to a boil.  Once you have brought the broth to a boil, reduce heat to med-low (or whatever heat is simmer on your stove) and simmer until the chicken is tender- about 1 1/4 hours.  While the chicken is cooking some fat can rise to the surface, skim the surface when this appears.
5.  Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl.
6. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a large bowl.  Discard the vegetables and the bay leaf.

Now that you have done all of this, you can actually start with the whole "making soup" part of this recipe.

7.  Skim any fat off the top of the strained broth and discard.
8.  Prepare the remaining carrots, celery, onions and leeks .  I like to dice my vegetables because I do not like them large, others I know prefer to cut their vegetables into 1/4 inch pieces. Once you are done chopping, set the vegetables to the side.
9.  Once the chicken is cool enough for you to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken.  Cut meat into 1/2 inch pieces and set to the side.
10.  Chop the remaining parsley leaves and set aside.
11.  Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent - about 7 minutes.
12.  Add the chicken pieces, the reserved broth, dried dill, salt and pepper.  Taste.  If you feel the soup needs it, add some Herb de Provence or you can wait and taste it in step 14 after you have added the parsley.
13.  Simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender -- about one (1) hour.
14.  Stir in the egg noodles and parsley and cook until the noodles are tender - about 10more minutes. *
Serve hot with oyster crackers.

*  If you are planning on freezing the soup, do not add the noodles in step 14.  Just add the parsley and simmer for 10 minutes.  After cook time is complete, remove the pot from the heated burner and allow to cool for about 30 minutes to an hour -  or however long it takes for the soup to get to be about room temperature.  Once the soup has cooled, put in freezer proof containers.  I like to use restaurant style plastic containers that you can get in restaurant supply stores in the individual sizes.
When I am ready to eat, I just take one out of the freezer, cook in a pot on the oven and, once the soup begins to simmer again, I add about a handful of dry pasta and let that cook for 10 minutes.   Not too much harder than opening a can and soooooooo much more delicious!

Oyster Cracker Snacks

There are several different recipes for oyster crackers, this is one that was given to me by a lady I work with.   She thinks her mother got it from a Better Homes and Gardens Magazine from the fifties, but who knows.  As the Christmas holiday approaches, my mother-in-law also makes oyster cracker snacks.  They never last more than three days in my house. I will include her recipe closer to Christmas.  But I digress.  I am including this recipe so that you will have flavored oyster crackers to add to your soup.  You can use plain oyster crackers.  But the question that I have to ask is; with a recipe this easy, why would you eat them plain?

2 packages oyster crackers
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Salad dressing Mix
1 cup oil
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. dill

1.  In a medium, microwave-safe bowl mix all of the spices together.  (I use a fork to mix them.)
2.  Add the oil to the spice mixture.  Put bowl in the microwave and cook on high for one (1) minute.
3.  In a large bowl, pour the oyster crackers.  Pour the spiced oil mixture over the crackers and toss to coat all of the crackers.

Store in an airtight container. 

Well, that is it for this post.  I will have more shortly!

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