Ah, January. When we are laboring frantically to follow our New Year’s Resolutions. So far I have managed to take Luke, the Studio Dog, for about eight short walks in the seventeen days of 2014. And my sweater-clad arms are nowhere near looking like Mrs. Obama’s, because I have kept them close to my sides trying to conserve heat. I crave a little comforting warmth, don’t you?
So we started the year with the egg, which in our minds forever now, comes first. And then we had the roasted chicken, which we fell on and devoured ravenously, and then picked over for a second weeknight meal, because this is the year we are going to be grown up and more conscientious about using leftovers, right? And now we are going to employ our newly acquired “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without philosophy,”: we are going to take that chicken carcass and make chicken soup with rice. The Cross Stitch Platitude Sampler Seminar will meet next week…
Words to the wise: you are going to need chicken soup sooner or later this winter. And, no, it will never taste as good as your mother’s, or your granny’s, or from some great Lower East Side Jewish deli, where there is are containers of chicken schmaltz on all the tables. You are making new memories, and it is your homemade creation. It will ward off the flu, and you will feel talented and virtuous for boiling up a huge stockpot of your own soup! Maurice Sendak will hover behind you, proudly, as you measure out the rice. And soon you will be slipping on the sliding ice, sipping your own chicken soup with rice. And – here comes extra moral fortitude – you can get a couple of more meals out of that chicken! Amazing, that “Waste not, want not,” can be so satisfying!
Homemade Chicken Stock
1 deboned chicken carcass, including skin OR 1 whole chicken (one could even cheat and buy a rotisserie chicken!)
6 quarts water
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 carrots, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 small onion,chopped
1 tablespoon butter
4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1.Use a large stock pot, and add butter and chicken over medium heat. Brown them a little bit.
2.Add all the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a boil.
3.Boil for 3 minutes, then turn heat down to low.
4.Cover, and simmer for about 3-4 hours, stirring every once in a while.
5.Once it’s a golden color, strain and let cool. Put in the refrigerator overnight, then skim the fat off the top.
6.I am a big believer in Baggies for storage – none of the lid issues that are inherent in Tupperware, and certainly easily dealt with – out they go! Place in the freezer until ready for use.
Chicken Soup (not completely homemade – but you feel a cold coming on!)
Half an onion, minced
2 carrots, finely diced
A sprig of fresh thyme, or a few shakes of dried
2 quarts chicken stock (or canned broth – this is for the few of us who tossed out the chicken carcass early, never thinking of the soup possibilities. Shamefully, I have done this many times.)
1 cup uncooked, long grain rice (or, if you are a noodle family, have your wicked way with them)
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1.Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.
2.Add onion and carrot, and sauté till soft, 5-7 minutes.
3.Add bay leaf, thyme, and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.
4.Reduce to a simmer and add rice and chicken.
5.Let soup bubble, stirring occasionally, till rice is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
This will be much better than Lipton’s Chicken Noodle dried-powder and freeze-dried chicken bits! And certainly better than Campbell’s. Have you ever looked at those pinkish chicken nubbins? Well, you were probably feverish and anything warm was going to do the trick.
And now you have a nice, comforting stash of stock in your freezer, and you are ready for that rainy, sneezy, sniffling, no-good, terrible day. Remember the glory days, back in elementary school, when you could stay home, bundled up on the sofa with a blanket, your pillow, a box of Kleenex and ginger ale with a bent paper straw? And you could spend they feverish day napping in front of the black and white TV? If you are lucky when you succumb to this year’s stay-home-from-school cold maybe Bewitched and The Dick Van Dyke show will be on TV! It’s out there somewhere on the internets!
Of course, Martha and her staff have a kabillion other recipes that you can try. We pride ourselves on our smug virtue and simplicity.
“There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.”
Laurie Colwin, ‘Home Cooking’