Thursday, February 3

Recipe Review: Chicken Stock and Chicken Noodle Soup

My blog posts have been few and far between in the past few weeks because I've had a lot going on in my non-cyber life. This month I'll be covering for a fellow RD at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital on top of my usual work at Doctors. But I wanted to start what I hope will be a regular feature here - a review of a recipe I've tried recently and enjoyed. 

Today I'm actually going to cover two recipes - one for homemade chicken stock, which is a staple that I use often in my cooking, and one for chicken noodle soup, which is an easy, delicious way to use the stock.

The Recipe:
Chicken Stock - Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten
3 (5-pound) roasting chickens (I use roasted chicken carcasses, meat removed)
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half, optional (I skip this)
20 sprigs fresh parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
20 sprigs fresh dill (I skip this)
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
    Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a 16 to 20-quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Chill the stock overnight. The next day, remove the surface fat. Use immediately or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

    The Review:

    In case you think making chicken stock from scratch is just a fussy extra step to otherwise good recipes (I used to), just read this recipe and see how easy it is. I simmer this stock on a Sunday afternoon while I'm doing other things. This makes an amber-colored liquid with a much deeper flavor than canned chicken broth, and if made with roasted bones instead of whole chickens, is much cheaper than store-bought. It's also lower in sodium, and can be made with less salt than called for. It's a great use for carrot peelings and celery stubs. I like to roast a chicken every once in a while and usually eat some of the meat as is, then shred the leftovers for use in recipes like chicken pot pie. This is a great use for the carcass. Although Ina says to use whole chickens, I just can't bring myself to waste all that meat (it's waterlogged after simmering that long). I've found that roasting gives the bones a kind of toasty flavor that results in a very flavorful stock. I put any reserved chicken skin/fat in the pot for flavor. This recipe is very forgiving. I don't think I've used the right amounts for everything any time that I've made this and it always tastes great. I recently tried a new chicken stock recipe in the crock pot and have frozen it all without trying it first. Once I use it I'll let everyone know if it's up to the Ina standard.

    The Recipe

    Chicken Noodle Soup - Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
    1 cup medium-diced carrots (3 carrots)
    3/4 tsp Kosher salt
    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    2 quarts homemade chicken stock
    2 cups wide egg noodles
    2-3 cups cooked shredded or cubed chicken
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred or dice the chicken meat.
    Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add celery, carrots, and noodles. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Add the cooked chicken meat and parsley and heat through.
    Season to taste and serve.

    The Review

    It was short on broth by this bowl, but still tasty.
    Chicken soup has never been my favorite, mostly because I've always had it straight out of a can. This soup has what Campbell's doesn't - flavor, texture, and desirable appearance. It really is the ultimate comfort food, but I wouldn't just save it for sick days. If you have stock and shredded  chicken in your freezer you can eat this soup in just over 10 minutes. Can't beat that, right?

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