22 December 2006

Feel Better Soup

It seems that soups have been on my mind a lot lately, but hey, it's officially winter now. 'Tis the season for warm soups!
My work days are filled with chats about menus, service, procedures, construction, sodas and creamers. Opening a restaurant is hard work, and I know I'm only being exposed to a fraction of it. We spend lots of time talking about wonderful food and horrible food (usually someone's bad experience at a restaurant recently).
And while I'm surrounded by discussions of wonderful food, it seems I haven't been cooking too much lately. Perhaps that's why I was eager to make a great soup for a friend who was not feeling well.
The soup was a basic chicken noodle. What sets it apart is its homemade egg noodles borrowed from my Great Grandma Peach's recipe.
I'll share the ingredients and the techniques. I won't, however, tell you exact portions of ingredients. Now this isn't because I've turned into a food snob whose dishes are too good to duplicate. Quite the opposite.
I simply don't keep track. The meal came from the heart, guided by close attention to my sense of smell and taste.

I started the soup by roasting bone-in chicken thighs that had been drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
While the chicken is roasting, take out celery, two medium onions, a few carrots and sprigs of herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary.
Rinse/peel veggies. Roughly chop a couple of the celery stalks, carrots and one of the onions. Place the rough chopped veggies in a stock pot. Rinse the herbs, and place in the pot, stem and all, if you're lazy like I am.
Take remaining veggies and slice more thinly for the soup. Store covered in the fridge for now. Fill the stock pot three-quarters of the way with water. Add a generous dose of salt. Then add a little more. Set aside.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle it. At that point, get ready for the mess.
Ready yourself by donning kitchen gloves if you have them. Set up your meat cutting board, a garbage bowl for skins and a storage container for the chicken.
Begin removing skins and pulling meat from the bone. As you remove the meat, pull it apart into bite-size chunks. Put the meat into the bowl. Place the cleaned bones in the stock pot.
Once this process is complete, cover the chicken and stick in the fridge. Put the stock pot on the stove top and turn on high. (It should be filled with veggies, herbs, salt, water and bones.)
Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Now it just needs time. A couple of hours.
Start on the noodles by taking about two cups or so of flour. Add salt. create a well in the flour. Crack two eggs into the well. With a fork, break the yolks and begin slowly incorporating the flour. Be gentle with the eggs during this process, too much handling will toughen the noodles. Once you get the dough formed, generously flour the board and the top of the dough and roll with a rolling pin. Repeat until the dough is thin (think pie dough only a bit thinner).
Then I take a pizza cutter to cut the noodles from the dough. Once they're cut, toss with a little more flour and spread them out on a flat surface to dry for about an hour. Once they've become slightly dry, move them to the fridge until the last minute.
When the soup stock tastes right, remove from heat. Pour through a sieve or cheesecloth to separate solids. Discard veggies, herbs and bones. Return liquid to pot. Add remaining veggies as well as frozen corn and peas to the pot. Bring to a boil to cook veggies. Pull the chicken and noodles from the fridge to rise to room temp.
Once veggies are cooked through, turn the heat to lowest setting and let set for a couple of minutes. Add the noodles and immediately stir to make sure noodles don't stick. Add the chicken.
Stir soup and keep on low heat for a few more minutes.
When the soup is done, serve immediately or store in covered containers for the fridge or freezer.
Serve with a green salad and warm bread!

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