I’ve never really been a soup person. I realize that is an extremely general statement given the fact that soup comes in so many varieties and one soup may not even slightly resemble another except for the- at least somewhat- liquid base. But over the years I’ve heard so many people utter “I love soup”! If they can declare their love for the stuff, my declaration is just as valid. The only disclaimer is that this has not, does not and will never apply to French onion soup. Truthfully, when cheese and bread are involved, who can play by the rules?
I think my general disinterest in soup comes from how strongly I feel that one should chew food. Human beings were given teeth for a reason, right?! Just like soup, I’ve always shied away from yogurt, hot cereals, and jello, not to mention pasta cooked beyond recognition (sacrilegious where I come from), or the dreaded mealy apple -incidentally, when is some genius going to invent something so that you can tell a mealy apple BEFORE making the investment and biting into it? I mean one minute you have a perfectly good snack waiting for you and the next, you’ve got a piece of garbage and a growling tummy.
So I was as shocked as anyone when I found myself with a hankering for soup once the temperature started dipping below 60 degrees F here in NY. I can remember a time a few years ago when I made some pretty decent chicken soup, but I took all the short cuts including but not limited to a pre-made rotisserie chicken, and of course store-bought stock. This time I thought I might go all out. I started the process in the same way I do with most of my hankerings- a simple google search: “World’s best chicken soup recipe”. As I was sifting through my findings, it seemed clear that a recipe by Tyler Florence was a great place to start. I don’t know much about Tyler but the recipes of his that I have tried have been decent and there is an astounding resemblance to Bobby Flay, and Bobby Flay is one of my favs, so how could I go wrong?
See, weird right? And they’re even wearing the same outfit! Just kidding.
Anyway, soup. I set out to follow Tyler’s recipe include the stock from scratch which I had not done before. I went to the store and got everything I needed, got it in the pot and started adding water. I quickly realized that I had a big problem. The recipe was telling me to add 3 quarts of water, and I could only fit about 1 quart. UH OH. And this was the biggest pot I owned. Since this incident I have acquired a nice big stock pot (thanks mom!), but at the time I had to figure something out. I ended up splitting the ingredients up between 2 pots and despite the hassle, it ended up coming out great! One thing to note, when you’re making stock: you must do something that goes against common sense. You must leave the peels on the veggies. Onion skins, garlic skins, unpeeled carrots- alley oop.
Here is the recipe I followed almost exactly:
(apologies for the dark picture)
Like many of the reviewer’s mention, before you call this soup bland, make sure you have properly salted and peppered! The recipe begs a bit more salt then I had expected. Properly seasoned, this recipe is really excellent. Ironically, now that I have eaten all this delicious homemade soup chock full of vitamins and minerals your body needs- I am catching a cold. Isn’t that just always the way.
One issue I did have with the stock recipe is that it called for a whole 3 ½ pound chicken. After the stock was done, I had as you might guess, quite a bit of cooked chicken. The soup recipe only calls for 1 ½ cups. What was I to do with the other 5 cups of chicken? In the future I plan to freeze what’s left from any chicken I cook on the bone. Then I’ll have it to use when the time comes. This time I decided to make chicken salad and share it at the office. I have made a lot of chicken salad in my time and have found a balance of ingredients that I think really works. BUT sometimes I forget something very important that was once put so eloquently, “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. My chicken salad was not broke, or broken even. But I acted as if it was and added fresh tarragon (An interesting decision in hindsight since I had no idea what tarragon tasted like… which is black liquorish-esque). That perfect balance was ruined. I still brought it to the office to share with these innocent civilians but I knew it was not my best work. I’ll need to redeem myself soon and when I do, I’ll be using the unbroken recipe, as follows:1 C. mayonnaise (I use reduced fat or light) 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 2 Tbsp cider vinegar 1 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp garlic powder 2 celery stalks, diced 1 large shallot, diced 3/4 C. red grapes, quartered 4 C. chopped or shredded cooked chicken In a medium bowl, combine first 7 ingredients. Then add chicken & grapes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill ½ hour before serving. Do not add tarragon. Voila!
Until further notice, I suggest you tread lightly where tarragon is concerned. It is not a force to be reckoned with and it will ruin your chicken salad and subsequently your life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It even had Genny running scared!
In between fending off the wrath of tarragon, I’ll be taking advantage of my new found love for soup. Just wait till you check out my homemade-not-college-dorm-room-style Ramen.