Growing up my favorite meal by far, no matter what season, no matter how hot or how cold, was my grandmother's chicken soup. It is a basic, heart warming thing. We all know it. Heck, there is a series of books written about it (or about the symbolism of it). It is cheap. It is simple and easy. You can use leftovers to make it, or make it from scratch. BUT... how can it be exotic, or sexy, or interesting? I mean, it's only soup, right? Trust me, it can be all those things and more. Keep reading.
Here is the basic recipe. Do not add to this (yet) or it will take away from the full effect of the BASIC GOODNESS OF IT.
Basic and Glorious Chicken Soup Recipe:
One whole chicken (or chicken pieces)
Onion (one large)
Salt, Pepper, BAY LEAF (one large or two small and DO NOT EAT THEM)
1 pound macaroni, preferably Ditalini, boiled in salted water and set aside.
Put chicken in pot 3/4 full of water with chopped (however small or large you like... I like large chunky vegetables) onion, carrot and celery and BAY LEAF. Add salt. DON'T TASTE (raw chicken!) Bring to boil. You can skim or not, up to you. I don't bother... that foam goes away. Boil hard for about five mins and then put on simmer.
simmer for an hour. Take out chicken and let cool. Pull off bone. Put back in soup. Serve over pasta. Nothing better, cheaper, or simpler. And here is a quick note about salt. Salt is a subjective thing. Start with a little and add as you need. We all have such different pallets. For the below recepies, add less as you are going to add broth, which is salty.
So you have a chicken carcass with a bit of meat on it? You have leftover grilled chicken? You have leftover chicken of any kind? Put in pot with all other ingredients above, but substitute half pot of water with chicken stock. Boil for a bit and then let simmer for a half and hour. Voila! Leftovers! Serve soup over pasta.
REALLY FAST VERSION:
Use ready made or grilled chicken. Use ALL broth. Boil until veggies are soft. This is a ten minute dish. Make sure to put the pasta on at the same time as the soup goes on. That is how quick it is! Wonderful soup...not out of a can... in minutes. Not bad.
So, Exotic? Sexy? What?
My husband took me to St. Vincents in the Caribbean for our honeymoon. Eleven days in paradise. Every night we would eat under the stars with the ocean crashing in next to us. The dining was five star and four course every night. And guess what the first course was? Every single night? SOUP. And it was always the best part of the meal. The table had a small glass bottle of sherry on it for the purpose of flavoring the soup. Let me tell you.... a little sherry in a bowl of soup goes a long way. Those nights. Those romantic nights with my husband will never leave my memory. Whenever we eat soup, we are transported back to that time. Ahhhhhhhh.
So let me tell you the secret now... how to make soup into something, well, MORE.
Thai Chicken Soup: Exoting it up!
Basic chicken soup recipe (scratch or leftover or quickie)
Lemon grass: two stalks cut into big pieces
Basil 3 large leaves cut up
curry powder 1tsp
QUAIL EGG (optional: boiled and sliced)
Oysters for the aphrodisiac quality: A small container, shucked from the fish market
Hot Chili Oil (How much depends on your heat level... or if you don't like spice, simply omit.)
After your soup is done, add all the ingredients(except for quail egg) above (squeeze in the lime, don't put the whole half in because it will make your soup bitter) and boil for 5 minutes or until the oysters are cooked through (taste them to see). **** Note, don't serve over pasta. That would make it basic;) Garnish with sliced quail egg... optional, but cool.
Enjoy. See you Monday!