If you’re anything like me, you’ve been seeking ways to assure that the food you eat not only tastes wonderful and is economical, but also won’t kill you. No? Here at Caffe M~Path, we have need for food that doesn’t kill us. That’s because we have so many food allergies/intolerances. And, let me tell you, navigating the sometimes terrifying super-highway of food allergies is time consuming, money consuming, and can wear a body down all too quickly. If you, like me, are well-versed in food allergies, then you know the pain. Virtual hugs to you in your labors.
As a result of the various limitations in my life, I’ve become a modestly-accomplished cook. Everything is from scratch, because one can’t simply trust the food industry to accommodate my needs on a consistent, across the board, basis; and everything is nearly always invented by yours truly. The only drawback to being a self-taught cook is that I rarely measure, unless it’s a baked product that I’m preparing. I instead like to leave things a little open to interpretation, based on what is available in my pantry or refrigerator– and I, quite literally, rely heavily upon my mood. Today, I’m in the mood for chicken soup (which is simmering as I type this.) I shared a version of my chicken soup recipe with a co-worker, who subsequently declared it to be too labor-intensive. She doesn’t have my food allergies, bless her heart, and was able to cut a few corners. She emailed saying the soup was wonderful. I hope you enjoy it too. Oh, and while you’re here, check out the new Trattoria page. I’ll be posting recipes there from time to time.
1. Create the broth: 2 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts and 2 thighs, 1 rib organic celery + stalk with leaves, handful organic baby carrots, 1/4 organic red onion, and 2 organic garlic cloves. (Are you spotting the trend here? Yes, organic is key to creating a very healthful end product. And from here on out, everything that goes into this soup is organic.) Wash then cut your veggies into large chunks. Place chicken pieces and veggies into a dutch oven or similar pot that has a lid and add enough water to cover by one inch. Add salt, fresh ground pepper, 2 bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes and thyme. I told you, I don’t measure. Eye it, smell it, and make it your own. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Simmer until your chicken pieces are cooked through (about 30 minutes). Next, you will remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board, and prepare to strain your broth. Place cheesecloth in a strainer, place that over a bowl, and pour the broth and veggies into the strainer. Press the veggies with a spoon to extract all the flavor. Set your broth aside.
2. Create the final soup: Today, I have carrots, peas, onion, garlic, celery and russet potatoes, but you can use whatever veggies you like. Sweet potato, cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans, red bell peppers… all good choices. I’m on a food budget today, so it’s just the basics. The end result will still be a very delicious soup! Chop your veggies into mostly equal sizes. Again, I don’t measure, but will prepare at least a cup of chopped carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 1 small onion, 3 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1/2 cup peas, and 3 small potatoes. I prefer red potatoes as they make a prettier soup. After you’ve prepared your veggies, heat about 1 tbs olive oil (again, organic) in your soup pan. Saute the veggies for 8 minutes, stirring often. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces while your veggies cook. Pour the reserved broth into your pan. Add your chopped chicken along with generous amounts of: salt, fresh ground pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. I like heat 🙂 Be creative with your herbs, using whatever you really like. Smell it, taste it, adjust it to your liking – keeping in mind that the flavor will intensify as it cooks a bit. Adjust your liquid level if needed (sometimes I add a splash of chardonnay) and cover the pot to simmer for 15 minutes.
3. At the end of the 15 minutes, give the soup a stir and add a tablespoon of organic dijon mustard (try http://truenaturaltaste.com/organic-mustards/organic-dijon-mustard), a few slices of lemon as well as about 1 tbs of fresh lime juice. Cover the pot and simmer another 15-20 minutes. Allow soup to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. I enjoy serving it in fat ceramic mugs.
End note: the world’s best add-in for this soup is homemade pesto. I’ll post a recipe at a future date. You haven’t lived until you’ve had my pesto.