Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Homemade Chicken Soup (and Dumplings!)


Homemade Soup - Making Broth

I'm going to teach you one basic lesson for broth (soup base) and list a few add-ins.

Easy and Fast
It's fast too and even though most foods are better when they simmer a while (to let the flavors "marry" as the chefs say), this soup can be done in 45 minutes.

What I use:
Chicken breasts WITH bone and WITH skin.

Chicken breasts bone-in, with skin

(Bamboo board-I suggest you always use one special board for the chicken meat and always only use it for that. Clean thoroughly after use).

Why:
Bone marrow has nutrients in it that heals, and breast skin has the perfect amount of fat to make a good soup.

Since breasts are lean to begin with they are my choice. On the meat end you will get the tenderest part of the chicken which is the succulent filet deep within which lays right on the breast bone.

(dark meat is good baked or fried as it contains more fat, making it juicy and tender. However, it would not make a good soup- it would be too fatty and would not taste as good. But if that's all you have- by all means use it, it won't hurt you! In times like these I won't throw common sense out the window.)

You'll need:
Large pot (4 quart)
Fill1/2 water (cover chicken)
Med-High heat

2-4 medium breasts, rinsed
1 large onion (1/4 slices) any onion even scallions (about 3) add the green stems-even better!
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
Sea salt (to taste)


Place in Pot
You can put the rinsed chicken in while the water is warming up meat side down. Cover for about 8-10 minutes until you see steam and the water start to "roil" (what I call it-its right before boil!) As soon as this happens, tilt the lid sideways so that some heat can escape. If you don't it could boil over in no time!

Turn to Med-Low
At this point, you will need to turn down the med-high to just medium or even med-low. This is a good time to add onion, garlic & sea salt. Since sea salt grains are generally larger, give them time to dissolve before deciding to add more just yet. It will surprise you.

Cover & Let Simmer
Next, on Med-Low heat, cover and let simmer. Covering at this point will help tenderize the meat. After about 30 minutes, use a fork or knife and pierce the thickest part. It should not have any pink at all inside. Normally by this time if it's close to done, the chicken will almost fall off of the bone.

Turn to Low & De-Bone
When done, turn heat to Low.
Lift chicken out and place on platter. Remove skin & de-bone.
I usually use two forks, one in each hand - hold down with one, and peel away with other.

To Discard:
Place skin, bones, etc. in a container to throw away-or dispose of according to your normal routine. Alert:These bones are small and can be a choking hazard for children and pets!

No bones to dogs 
Warning: Small dogs will beg for these. I do not advise giving bones. A pinch of chicken shouldn't hurt but that's all I would do. (you know best).

Slice meat (against grain) and set aside. Some people just pull it apart. I find this makes it stringy and hard to chew.

Broth only:
If your stomach can't handle the onion & garlic, just run broth through a sieve (similar to a coffee filter).

I'm being elementary here in case someone is new to cooking!

If you are ok with garlic & onions, leave it in, just add the chicken you have set aside, stir once and you're done.

Tip: You may need to add some water depending on fat content and how it has boiled down. If you do, add slowly and add sea salt to compensate for added water!

All of this is very low-salt. Add sea salt as desired.

Recipe Variations:
1) Leave out meat for broth only.
2) Add cooked rice, barley, noodles.
3) Add other vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, celery, banana pepper, red pepper (your choice).
4) Fresh Dill
5) Ground pepper of your choice. Ground fine white pepper is a good substitute if you cannot handle coarse black pepper.
6)Add homemade Dumplings (below)

They plump up then shrink! 

Chicken and Dumplings
Tip: dumplings are NOT fast unless you're a pro, so leave for when you have time to enjoy the process! Ha!)

Use same broth recipe above:
After you have your broth ready, turn heat back up to Med-High to "roiling".
Dumplings will cook in the hot broth!

So while you're waiting, you can prepare the homemade dumplings!

To start you'll need:
Large bread board (wood/bamboo best)
Large bowl

Dumplings pantry list
1 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 stick butter cut-in until form little "rocklets"; stir
1/2 cup whole buttermilk +/-

Mix dry ingredients first. Cut-in the cold butter, stir. SLOWLY add buttermilk and stir until dry mixture is wet-it will become harder to stir.
If it looks too "wet", sift or sprinkle flour-a little at a time & mix. Done right, the dough will come loose from the sides of the bowl.

Tip: Same as Biscuits-without a couple steps

I know this sounds backwards (dry/wet/dry) but what you're really doing is just "encasing" the dumpling-it's the same technique (same recipe really) as biscuits, except less flouring and kneading at the end. You can do that, it just makes the dumplings more dense (& tough). I like them light & tender.

Some people use canned biscuits, but the point here is: homemade=very little preservatives=health; not to mention lighter on the pocket book!


Flour your bread board & Turn out
Sprinkle board generously with flour, use a sifter or just your hands, and roll out dough onto board. Lightly sift some flour over wet dough.

Keep your Hands Well-floured:
Tip: Flour your hands well while handling wet dough. Keep a bowl of flour handy to "powder up" sort of like gymnasts do, so that wet dough doesn't start clinging to your hands. If it does- stop- thoroughly clean your hands, make sure they are completely dry- then re-flour them.

Prepare Dough
Again, If you feel "wet "spots" on the dough, throw a little flour on there and pat the dough and move around. When it slides freely, fold over once, pat down and spread out about 1/4" high. 

Tip: The success of handling of wet-to-powdered dough is largely in the "feel".

Take a floured knife and cut 1" strips. Cut those 1-2" and roll into ball.
Carefully drop each ball into "roiling" broth. They will immediate get larger
Stir, cut down heat to med-low to simmer until dumplings are done. They will begin to shrink when close to being done-about 20 minutes.

Test
Remove one with a large spoon, let cool, or cut open. If done, turn heat to warm and serve. They should be quite tasty!
Alert: Hot! Dumplings can get very hot! Eat slowly. Serve with crusty bread and a cool drink!
Great for the infirm, or just coming in from the snow! 

This is low-salt, homemade, and nutritious. This recipe would be a great gift for a new bride with lots of patience! 
With a few times practice you'll be a pro! 

See, there's so much you can do with just these two recipes. Enjoy! 

1 comment:

  1. My recipe- Print out for your cookbook! Broth/Soup is great for colds/flu. Dumplings take more time & patience, but well worth it. ~Rann

    ReplyDelete