B&G Classics: Chicken Noodle Soup

Wahoooooooo!

That means I passed my test, in case it wasn’t clear. And I am so so glad. That was easily the most stressful thing I have done in a long time. I felt unprepared and I HATE feeling unprepared. It was hard. I woke up this morning and honestly felt like a year had passed since last Friday. But it is over! And studying did give me the opportunity to procrastinate and make lots of soup, so that is nice. Sorry about the three day hiatus, I was going to blog every day to get all the soup in, but Sunday got a little hairy as the test was getting closer, and Monday was for test taking and then bubbly-drinking and yesterday was for the rest of life. But today is soup day again! Specifically, Chicken Noodle. There are a million ways to make it, but the gist is chicken vegetables and noodles in chicken broth. (I mean, there probably aren’t a MILLION ways to make it, but you know what I mean.) This is a pretty basic, classic version. (This one is classic with a twist and I am DYING to try it. Related: have you guys ever checked out Sweet Paul? It is GORGEOUS.)

A cure for what ails you

A cure for what ails you

This version is perfect for post-chicken dinner leftovers. The key is homemade stock. While I suppose it is not technically necessary, I am saying it’s necessary. You are going to be so happy with yourself if you use homemade stock. It will be infinitely better. Truly. There are plenty of times where homemade stock isn’t that noticeable because of other things that are going into the soup, but this is not one of those times. (STOCK REMINDER: put six lbs of chicken backs in a large pot and cover with water. (Use wings or legs if you don’t collect chicken backs in your freezer/can’t get them from your butcher or grocery store. Pro-tip – ask for them at your butcher or grocery store. Whole Foods often has them packaged with the other chicken for .99 a pound. Way cheaper than you’ll pay for wings.) When the water boils, take the chicken out, dump the water (and the sludge that will come along with it) rinse out the pot, and add the chicken back in with two onions peeled and cut in half, three carrots peeled and cut in large pieces, three celery stalks peeled and cut in pieces, a head of garlic sliced in half width wise, two or three bay leaves, a handful of fresh parsley, some black peppercorns and a good dash of salt. Cover with a ton of water (I use a 12 quart pot and fill it close to the top.) Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, simmer for two to four hours or as long as you are hanging around the house, strain the solids out, and voila! Chicken stock! Let it cool, skim the fat off the top and use what you need and freeze the rest!)

Other than the stock and the leftover chicken, I like onion, celery, a little bit of garlic, carrots, egg noodles and dill. And that’s it. Soften the vegetables without browning them. Add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are soft. Add the egg noodles and the chicken, cook until the noodles are done. Add the dill, voila! That’s it. It all happens in about half an hour, which is pretty funny, considering Chicken Soup is the quintessential comfort food. It seems like the quintessential comfort food that cures all ills and is essentially a word that has come to symbolize home itself should be an undertaking of some sort. But it’s not. Go forth. Make soup.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup (Makes a lot)

2 tbl olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled a chopped in half moons

3 stalks celery, peeled and sliced in half moons

1 large clove garlic, minced

8 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

4-6 oz egg noodles

1 handful dill, chopped (optional, but I recommend it!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add all the vegetables and saute until they are soft, without letting them brown. Add the chicken stock, bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the chicken and the noodles, and cook for another five or six minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Add the dill, taste for salt and pepper and add as needed, and serve! (IF you are planning on freezing or bringing this to someone’s house, or saving it for later, and you are worried about the noodles getting too mushy, leave them out at this point. Or take some of the soup out for freezing or transporting and just add the appropriate amount of noodles to what you are going to eat now, and add the rest to the defrosted/transported/saved part, so they don’t get mushy!)

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Gingery Carrot Soup

You guys, January was going to be soup month, and it IS actually soup month. I’ve made a bunch, and it’s been soupier than I even anticipated, due to some client requests. Of course, it hasn’t be post-ier than normal (though this will be the third one this month, so maybe it has) which means there are SO MANY SOUPS to discuss. So I have to post every day between now and next Thursday, because I have so much soup to talk about and I couldn’t POSSIBLY let soup trickle into February, because if these arbitrary monthly themes that I decide at totally random times for absolutely no rhyme or reason and based on no one’s whims but my own don’t mean anything, WHAT DOES? (Related: February’s theme? Indian Food! I’ve been craving it.)

carrot ginger

carrot ginger

This particular soup is a bit of a palate cleanser. It’s light and healthy and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan with equally delicious results. (For real! I’ve done it!) It has a ton of flavor, but is not heavy at all. It would be great as part of a multi-course meal, it would work in all kinds of weather, and is kind of perfect if you are using January to detox from the holidays. I made it for the first time in November when I was cooking a dinner that had quite a few dietary restrictions (kosher, vegan, soy and gluten allergies) and had to come up with a soup that would please vegans and meat eaters alike. I made a quick vegetable stock, because a) store bought vegetable stocks can taste real weird, and b) because store bought stocks can have all sorts of surprise soy and gluten in them, and both the vegetable stock (quick trick! Add a potato!) and the soup itself came out pretty damn delicious, if I do say so myself. Toot Toot! When I made it at home for myself, I used chicken stock, because that’s how I roll. It was also delicious.

Basically, this soup should not taste as good as it does, because there are basically four ingredients and one of them is carrots. But it does! I mean, it tastes like carrots, it’s not like it tastes like steak, but it is delicious. And the ginger gives it a serious kick. It would be really nice if you were sick. The ginger will clear out your sinuses AND settle your stomach! It’s magic! (I’m pretty sure ginger can cure the common cold too. I had a DOOZY coming on one day a while back, and I made this and the next day it was GONE. Not even kidding. It was amazing.) So what I’m saying is, if you get sick soon, make this soup and keep me posted on what happens. If I have unwittingly discovered the cure for the common cold and/or stomach upset, Imma need to know. I’ve always wanted to be rich and famous. I HAVE BIG PLANS.

Alright, back to the studying. Hasta mañana.

Carrot – Ginger Soup (serves 6-8)

4 tbl butter or olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

1 ½ lbs carrots, peeled and sliced in half moons

2 tbl minced ginger

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt butter, or heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Sauté just until soft and add carrots. Cook onions and carrots until the carrots are just beginning to get tender. Don’t let the vegetables brown. Add the ginger, a pinch of salt and pepper, and then add the chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer until the carrots are cooked all the way through and quite soft, 20 – 30 minutes. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes, before pureeing in batches in a blender until very smooth. (An immersion blender is not going to give you the smoothness you want here. Go full bore with the blender for this one.) Reheat if necessary, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Feel healthy and virtuous!

Fish Tacos, Finally (for Em, because they are her favorite)

crispy and delicious

crispy and delicious

I have been working on this post for quite some time, but I am glad I waited, because it took me a while to get it right. Now I suspect they will be in the regular rotation. There are a couple components, but most of them can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for weeknights, which is very convenient because these are delicious and the perfect antidote for the crappy days that occasionally pop up during the week.

These are fairly basic, in that there aren’t too many components. You could absolutely change this up and add your own twists. Pico de gallo, guacamole instead of just avocado, cotija cheese. Find your bliss! You do you! I will tell you though, the sauce is key. This one is really spicy, but the spice is from sriracha, so it’s flavorful round spice, not the kind that smacks your mouth and makes your eyes water. And it is mellowed by the slaw and the avocado. The slaw is a little bit sweet and adds good crunch, and the fish is fried in beer batter, which makes everything delicious. I usually just use tilapia, because it is easy to find and cheap, but any white fish would be excellent. And I prefer flour to corn tortillas for these, but you can absolutely switch those out. I generally like to have both in the fridge anyway. If you have the slaw and the sauce on hand (and they both keep pretty well) these go together in about 15 minutes. Easy peasy.

assembly

assembly

All the things:

1. I am still studying for the Series 79. It is miserable. I need it to be over.

2. I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali. Another California trip for this girl in April. The ladies are going to Sonoma and San Francisco, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s my favorite place on earth.

3. I am trying to eat healthy lunches, so I decided to make a salad on Sunday to bring with me for the week. The first one was quinoa, edamame, red cabbage and carrots with an orange soy vinaigrette. I ate it with avocado on it. It was delicious.

quinoa, red cabbage, carrots, edamame, orange-soy vinaigrette

quinoa, red cabbage, carrots, edamame, orange-soy vinaigrette

4. I am STILL reading The Goldfinch, but only because I have a job and a non-profit and a test to take so I can’t just read without stopping. It is GREAT.

5. Speaking of non-profits – IGNITE the NITE is February 27th! Get your tickets Bostonians! It is going to be an amazing time again this year!!

6. It’s almost the Superbowl! The most glorious snack filled day of the year. I mean, I could not care less about who wins this one, but I can make snacks, so that’s pretty good.

7. I still couldn’t love anything more than I love my new camera. I can’t wait to be done with this test so I can spend some good quality time with it and learn all the tricks.

8. Make these tacos asap. You are going to like them.

For the Tacos

8 pieces batter fried fish (see recipe below)

8 flour tortillas

One avocado, sliced

2 cups cabbage slaw (see recipe below)

Spicy sauce (see recipe below)

Warm the tortillas (if you have a gas stove, toast them over a burner. It is delightful.) Lay one piece of fish over each tortilla. Top with avocado slices, slaw and sauce.

Enjoy!

For the Fish

2 Tilapia filets, each cut in four strips lengthwise

1 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt and black pepper

1 cup beer of your choice (I really like Negra Modelo or something similar, but Bud Light works just fine)

Oil for frying

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cayenne if you are using, a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Add the beer and whisk to combine. Add the fish to the batter and make sure all the pieces are coated well. Heat 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch of oil in a large (10″) high sided frying pan over medium high heat until it shimmers. Test it by dropping in a bit of the batter, if it starts to puff and turn golden right away, the oil is ready. Drop four pieces into the oil and cook until the bottom is golden brown and flip, cooking the other side the same way, about five minutes total. Remove the fish to a plate lined with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the second batch of fish. Voila!

For the Slaw

¼ head red cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, peeled shredded (in a food processor or on a box grater)

Chopped cilantro to taste (this is personal preference, though I don’t love cilantro, and I still like quite a bit in this slaw)

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 tbl neutral oil, like canola

1 tbl honey

2 tsp salt

Combine the shredded cabbage, the carrot and the cilantro in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and refrigerate. (Let sit for ideally an hour or so before using to allow flavors to meld)

For the Sauce

½ cup mayo

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup whole milk

¼ cup sriracha (this is a lot. Feel free to use less if you are nervous. The final product is really spicy on its own, but meshes really nicely with everything on the taco.)

2 cloves garlic mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt

1 tbl soy sauce

Zest and juice from one lime.

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. This makes a lot, but leftovers obviously keep (and you’ll use more than you think, I suspect)

Clam Chowder

New England style

New England style

Happy New Year friends!

It’s 2014, which is weird. It sounds like it’s out of science fiction. 2014. This might be the year The Others come. Hopefully they’ll be nice. And single.

I’ve got big hopes for 2014. Unfortunately most of them require vast amounts of wealth and free time, of which I have neither, so small hopes will have to do.

I hope GLOW raises ALL THE MONEY this year, and that IGNITE the NITE is a rousing success again, and that I am still sane when that time rolls around. I hope to pass the Series 79 and 63. I hope to have time to read all the books I bought last year that I haven’t gotten to yet. I hope to learn how to make duck confit. I hope to run a half marathon (which involves the hope that I can figure out how to work regular work outs into my schedule.) I hope to go on vacation in April for my birthday. I hope to finish (start) all the improvements I have planned for my apartment. I hope to eat more ramen (the real stuff) and less ramen (the packaged stuff). I hope to spend more time with my bf Shania because we keep talking about it but can never get our acts together. I hope to get to the beach more. I hope to actually write Christmas cards this year. I hope to learn to love gin. I hope to see my littlest sister more. I hope to see my entire family more. I hope to meet more single dudes. I hope to cross some of the reportedly amazing new restaurants in the area off my “to-try” list. I hope to be more patient. I hope to remember to listen well and to be a good friend because I have amazing people in my life that deserve that from me. I hope to do more yoga. I hope to eat more vegetables. I hope to get to NYC for no other reason than just to visit. I hope to have more impromptu dinner parties. I hope to spend more time here.

And this month, I hope you like soup, because there will be a fair amount of it. January seems like a good month for soup. I made chowder this weekend and it was really good. I can’t recall if I’ve ever made clam chowder before, which is kind of crazy since I like clam chowder and I live in the clam chowder center of the universe. But I have now! It’s very rich. There’s plenty of cream in it, but the richness comes mostly from the clam broth. It’s not as thick as many of the pure white stewy style chowders that you get in mass quantities up here. The broth is much thinner. A spoon is not standing upright in a bowl of this. But it is richer, nonetheless. The clams are all added at the end, as to remain really tender and delicate, rather than chewy and overcooked, and it could be easily modified to include more celery, corn or other shellfish.

I am off to my first of three GLOW meetings this week. SO MANY MEETINGS! But I missed you all! And here’s hoping you will be seeing more of me around here. I have three more weeks of studying to do, so you’ll get AT LEAST three more weeks of regular posting. And maybe I’ll have more to say. Writer’s block is a fearsome beast.

Things:

I am studying for the Series 79 right now. It is miserable. You know what I like more than studying? EVERYTHING. You are getting your first post in several months. This is hardly a coincidence.

I bought myself a really fun new toy. I have wanted a good camera forever and I finally treated myself. I love it like I have never loved before. I don’t even know how to use it yet, and my pictures are a million times better.

There are some fun new food and drink places popping up around here these days. I am particularly enamored with Tavern Road. The food is so good and it is a place that I want to be when it’s cold out, or when I have had a bad day, or on New Year’s Eve. My other favorites at the moment, some new and some not so new, are JM Curley’s, Trillium Brewing, Toro (always), Neptune Oyster (of course) and Row 34. Boston is a really fun place to eat and drink these days. And I haven’t even ventured over to Cambridge recently. There are approximately eleventy new places I need to try asap.

What I am listening to: Beyonce. Obviously.

What I am reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. And the Knopman Series 79 study guide. And the IRS guidelines for a 501 (c) (3). The Goldfinch I can definitely recommend.

Clam Chowder (serves 6)

2 dozen littlenecks, scrubbed clean

1 dozen quahogs or two dozen cherrystones, scrubbed clean

2 tbl unsalted butter

1/2 lb thick cut or slab bacon or pancetta, cut in half inch pieces

2 stalks celery, diced

2 small onions, diced (about a cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 bay leaves

pinch of dried red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tbls all-purpose flour

2 large yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs) scrubbed and diced in 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

pepper to taste

parsley to serve

Put the quahogs (cherrystones) in a large pot with quart of water over high heat and steam the clams, watching them and removing  each clam as they open. Put them aside to cool. Strain the water through a sieve lined with cheese cloth and set it aside, you should have about a quart. Wash the pot thoroughly to get ride of the grit. Remove the meat from the reserved clams and chop the meat into large pieces (about an inch) and set aside.

Heat the butter and bacon or pancetta in the pot over medium heat, until the bacon is brown and crispy and the fat has rendered. Add the celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves and red pepper flakes, if using, and saute until the vegetables are soft, about five minutes.

the early stages...

the early stages…

Add the flour and stir for two minutes or so, until all the vegetables and bacon are well coated. Add the potatoes and continue to stir for several more minutes. Add the reserved steaming water, raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about ten minutes. The potatoes will be starting to soften, but won’t yet be cooked through. Add the heavy cream and the milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the littlenecks and cook the chowder until the clams open. Add the reserved clam meat and heat just a couple minutes more until all the littlenecks are open and the chopped clams are cooke through. There is a good chance the chowder will look “broken” at this point. (You will likely see small bubbles of oil on the top of the soup.) If this bothers you, and it did me, there’s an easy fix! Strain the chowder through a strainer over a large bowl. Put the solids back in the pot, and then run the liquids through the blender in batches and then pour back into the pot over the solids. Reheat the soup until piping hot and taste for pepper (and salt, though you will likely not need it. The clams and the bacon are plenty salty!) Serve with a good sprinkle of parsley over the top of each bowl.

Enjoy!!