Sunday, November 1, 2009

Homemade Chicken Soup for the Soul & Italian Wedding Soup, my way

Last week, I realized that I had used the very last of my homemade chicken stock. It was time,  I decided,  to make more. I have a confession to make.  Last Thanksgiving morning, I had roasted some turkey wings & drumsticks and made a beautiful turkey stock to make extra gravy.  In my haste, I managed to absent mindlessly pour the entire pot of turkey stock into a colander in my kitchen sink-- only, to my absolute horror, I forgot to put a pot underneath the colander! My husband could hear my shrieking "nooooooooo!", as I realized that hours of simmering the turkey stock had just disappeared right down the kitchen sink!  I wanted to cry, but I remember that I still pulled off a great turkey feast.

Since then, I learned  that using a pasta pot was the perfect solution because the colander fits right inside the pot. So there!  I don't roast a whole chicken very often. I'm ashamed to admit that I still feel awkward about carving a whole chicken.  It's such a hassle to me!  So, when I spotted a huge package of chicken drumsticks on sale for about $4.00, I snatched them and got busy in the kitchen. 

I'm not a fan of cooking a raw chicken in water, to make a chicken stock. I much prefer to roast the bird, because I think it gives the stock a richer flavor and color. I had about 16 drumsticks, which I washed, patted very dry and seasoned with salt and pepper...

I preheated the oven to 425F and roasted these for about 20 minutes.

I love this herb wire basket gadget! Otherwise, I'd have to use cheesecloth. Add some peppercorns...

Into the colander, goes the roasted chicken drumsticks (you could use thighs, too).  I raided my refrigerator and added carrots, celery and onion. You don't even have to peel the onions, by the way. Just cut 'em, and throw them in. I added 2 bay leaves.

While my tomatoes are now gone, and my basil is history, I still have some hearty Italian parsley, oregano, marjoram and thyme. So I cut some, and wrapped it with the rubber bands that I save when I buy broccoli--otherwise, you can use kitchen twine. Toss that in... you can see I hung the peppercorns, in the herb basket.

I filled the pot until everything was covered in water, just a few inches below the rim of the pot. I didn't measure-- I never do. I will tell you that this pot yielded 8 quarts of stock!  (If my math is right, I used 2 gallons of water.)  I brought the pot to a boil, then simmered it for a couple of hours.  The beauty of the pasta pot, is that can more easily  lifted out the colander. I  set the hot food into a big bowl, to catch more of the liquid.  With ease, I removed the peppercorns and tossed out the cooked herbs and veggies. The cooked chicken slipped right off the bone and I saved it for future dishes.

The chicken stock was moved into the refrigerator in the garage (I'm so happy to have) overnight. The next  day I skimmed the hardened fat and tossed it out.

I portioned out  6 quarts of chicken stock into freezer containers, and reserved 2 quarts in the fridge.  I was very happy!  That is, until the next morning--  I woke up with the symptoms of a cold-- sniffling, fatigue and sneezing. I knew, then and there, that chicken soup would come to the rescue. Then I remembered... I had discovered some meatballs that I had made several months ago,  lodged in the back of my freezer.I had set them in the fridge to thaw.

...browned to perfection. This recipe is from Food Network's Ann Burrell, and they are excellent!

Having just  thawed the  leftover meatballs from this recipe, I decided to make Italian Wedding Soup. I've read lots of recipes, so I decided to improvise. This would be my first attempt at making this soup. I found a bag of fresh spinach, and I was ready to start.

I  also found a box of these cute little pastas, and the thawed meatballs looked like they survived their suspended animation in the freezer-- they weren't frost-bitten. They were a little large for a soup, so I cut them into quarters.

I cooked about half a box of the pasta , to al dente (10 minutes) and drained and rinsed them (I usually don't rinse pasta but I didn't want the starch in my soup).

To  2 quarts of stock, I added the thawed meatballs, the pasta and some fresh spinach. I seasoned the soup with kosher salt, a little at a time, until it tasted just right.

Though it was 72 degrees outside, this still delivered what I needed--  a comforting, but light meal, served with a salad and some rolls.

The next day, I began to feel as though the cold was trying to kick my butt-- so I ate the last of the soup.
Chicken soup really is good for anything that is ailing you, I do believe! This is my son's favorite soup, and he's been  begging me to make it for him. So I carefully packed some into Chinese takeout boxes (that I buy in bulk) and delivered it to his apartment. He was so happy to have some home cooked loving!

I'm sure that many of you already know how to make chicken stock. I wanted to share how I make it with those of you who haven't. I think that homemade chicken stock is very cost-effective-- and I just think it tastes better.

I'm on the mend, I think. I've been busy making pumpkin puree and lots of  new recipes. I'll try to get them posted this week. Hopefully, my immune system won't let that darn virus get the better of me!

With homemade love,

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Jen_from_NJ said...

Hi Debby, thanks so much for the tutorial. I am guilty of using store bought stock. Homemade is so much better. Hopefully your delicious chicken soup will kill your cold! Thanks!

Monica H said...

This soup looks delicious. Thanks for the stock tutorial. I'm also guilty of using the boxed stuff.

Hope you're feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Debby! I would never thought of roasting chicken drumsticks before putting them into a pot with the rest of chicken stock ingredients. And that mini herb bouquet is absolutely cute. I love your illustrated recipe. Thank you :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

What a wonderful looking soup! And, you have convinced me that homemade stock is easier than I ever think. Great idea to use the pasta pot.

George Gaston said...

Debby, your roast chicken stock should be marketed and sold worldwide, because it sounds absolutely amazing! The Italian Wedding soup does, as well. Thanks

A Feast for the Eyes said...

There is no need to feel guilty about using boxed chicken stock. I keep it in my pantry, too. Sometimes, I want just a splash of stock for a pan sauce and I don't want to thaw 2 quarts just for that.
I prefer the brand Kitchen Basics, because it tastes closest to homemade.

TKW said...

Oh my gosh, when I read about you accidentally pouring the turkey stock down the sink, I was right there with you, saying "Noooooo!" I would have been so mad!

Your soup looks delicious!

Cheryl said...

I knew we were related, LOL! I use the same trick for making stock! I like to roast my chicken first as well! That soup looks glorious, I have not made that one yet!

Mary said...

The soup and the stock you made both look delicious. I love the color of your stock.

Barbara said...

I watched Lyon in the Kitchen make Italian Wedding Soup quite a while back and was intrigued. I like your recipe- now I have no excuses! I'm going to make it.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

This soup looks so good and I love the addition of the fresh spinach.

giao {kiss my spatula} said...

wonderful post! what can beat homemade chicken soup? gorgeous photos.

bella said...

Debby, What a great post, you taught me a few new tricks! #1 I never thought of roasting the chicken for better flavor and then putting it in the water for broth/stock.....wonderful tip! #2 I've never made Italian wedding soup, so this I have to try; #3 I think that we all have to share our truthes about our bloopers in the kitchen with each other; and lastly, please tell me what kind of camera and photo software you use, you have the best clarity in your pictures! Love, Roz

figtree said...

Oh my what a soup! I look forward to making boxed stock days are OVER!

Simple Simon said...

How wonderful, all of your chicken stock put away for when you need it. You inspire me.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Oh my goodness Debbie, I just caught up with all your mouthwatering posts! I love everything you made here, your stock, your pumpkin puree, the soup, and that pumpkin icecream, which i would like a scoop right now! Beautiful photo's BTW!

Debinhawaii said...

Gorgeous soup Debby--it is one of my favorites. Those meatballs look incredible. Thanks for sending it to souper Sundays!