A Hearty Chicken Soup

Following up a recent recipe/ post on making chicken stock, this next post is about putting it to use. As I had mentioned in the write up that went with the stock recipe, soups are a great and easy way to harness a lot of good nutrition. This particular chicken soup recipe contains chicken, bacon, beans, kale, onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, and extra-virgin olive oil. Since I also have home-made tomato sauce (from this blog) on hand, I have been adding a couple spoonfuls to each bowl I heat up for even more depth of flavor!

This could quite possibly be; the perfect meal. Essentially, your protein is the base. You’ve made soup from chicken bones which also contains (picked) chicken meat and a bunch of vegetables. I ended up making soup from the carcasses which still had the legs attached (I hadn’t gotten around to eat them yet). This is a relatively lean meal as it is. Sure, there’s eight ounces of bacon in there and some chicken fat, but for the quantity that is made, it is not high in fat. It can also be easily tailored to meet individual nutritional needs of the people living under the same roof. In my case, I need more carbs and total calories than my wife. During the week I usually have a pot of rice cooked off, or potatoes, or lentils, or barley, you get the picture… So, a cup of rice added to my bowl of soup will do the trick. If I am going through a couple days of not lifting or, am following more of a ketogenic approach, or even carb cycling, this can be a great base for which carbohydrate and even fat can be added or left out.

In buying chicken for a stock or soup, I would suggest free range, organic (if possible). Stay away from the $.99/lb crap that you’d see at most supermarkets if you care about food and where it comes from. Pay a little bit extra for the local, good quality chicken that is free range. It will be worth it. Below is an excerpt from a James Beard ‘Cookbook of the Year’ Award winning book:

Despite the still underwhelming demand, all the supermarkets now stock at least a few free-range chickens in most of their stores. And most of them carry organic poultry in their larger branches. What this tells us is that they are already poised to respond to public demand for more ethically produced poultry meat- just as they did for eggs a few years back. If free-range birds start moving a little quicker, at the expense of conventional broilers, which then begin to linger beyond their sell-by date a little more often, be assured that the pattern will have rapid repercussions throughout the industry. The big supermarkets will soon be in discussion with their free-range suppliers, asking if they can increase production – or with their conventional suppliers, discussing the possibility of moving over to free-range. This, of course, is precisely what we want to happen.” –Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Meat Book

The Soup

Roasted Chicken Stock– 1 gallon
Chicken picked from the bones used in the stock
4 Yellow onions, 1/2 in. dice
8 Carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, 1/4 inch slices
10 Celery stalks, washed, 1/4 inch slices
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, 1/4 inch ‘chiffonade’
4 pints of mushrooms, chopped, use any kind but prefer oyster or trumpet mushrooms
8-10 Garlic cloves, minced
12 oz. of beans, cooked; Borlotti, Cannelini, Kidney, etc.
Bacon 8oz, 1/2 inch dice, use good quality bacon such as ‘Vermont Smoke and Cure’
2 Lemons, juiced
1 liter of white wine, Use a decent but relatively inexpensive white wine; sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, etc.
1/2 – 3/4 Teaspoon of Red Pepper flakes, or to taste
Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste, as garnish- use good quality extra virgin olive oil for best flavor
Method of Prep
  1. In a large soup pot, render bacon until crisp, over low heat. Keep an eye on it and stir every once in a while.
  2. Once bacon has rendered, add onions, celery, and carrots and sweat over medium heat until they tenderize a bit (about 10-15 minutes). Add mushrooms and cook until they are soft and release their moisture.
  3. Add kale, stir. Once kale cooks down (roughly 3-5 minnutes) stir in garlic and red pepper flakes, and then add the wine and lemon juice.
  4. Over medium-high heat, reduce wine/ liquid in the bottom of the pot by half and then add chicken stock. and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the picked chicken, beans, and chopped herbs to the soup, stir, season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer for a couple minutes and then remove from heat and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.
  6. If storing, cool as quickly as possible and refrigerate.

Note:

  • I had also cooked off extra chicken legs for the week which can be added to the soup if there is not enough meat. I use leg meat, chicken breast meat will get dry unless they are cooked separately and added upon serving the soup.
  • Dietary fat and carbohydrate content can be easily adjusted with the addition of extra virgin olive oil and rice (or similar) without really changing the flavor.
  • If you have a good tomato sauce (like the recipe from this blog..) it makes a great addition to this soup. As an option, you could add 1 cup to the entire recipe above, or a spoonful as a garnish to an individual bowl.
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