Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Chicken soup from start to finish

Adapted from the Cook's Illustrated Best New Recipe cookbook. That recipe called for noodles, but I prefer wild rice in my homemade chicken soup. I had recently fallen out of the habit of making soup with my roasted chicken carcasses, since the stock recipe that I was using, while an excellent stock, was a bit of an undertaking. This one uses vegetables and herbs that I almost always have sitting in my fridge and, despite being very simple, comes out just as robust as the more elaborate stock recipe I used to use. Consider this a starter recipe: you could add mushrooms or whatever other vegetables you like (a friend of mine had great success with adding minced red and orange bell pepper). I've made this soup as written twice now, and gotten excellent results both times. I like to make a full batch and stick some in the freezer for when I'm sick or in a time crunch and need some comfort food.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Makes about 3 1/2 quarts

For the stock:

1 whole chicken carcass (from a roasted chicken), plus saved drippings from the roasting pan (fat skimmed and discarded)
1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
fresh parsley
fresh thyme
fresh sage
2 t. salt

Heat the oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute for 5-10 minutes, until tender. Add herbs (no need to chop them) and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add 2 1/2 quarts water, the salt, and the chicken carcass (plus drippings). Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes, or until you're satisfied with how it tastes. Cool and strain the broth, discarding the solids.

For the soup:

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
Chicken stock (above)
at least 2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken (I usually use the leg meat from the roasted chicken, plus the meat of two legs that I roast while I make the stock)
1 cup wild rice, cooked until almost tender
additional salt and pepper as desired

Heat oil in large soup pot. Add vegetables and saute until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add the stock and chicken and simmer 10-15 minutes, then add the rice and cook until the rice is tender and the soup is seasoned to your liking. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling and good bread for mopping up.