Chicken Soup

I’m still not used to the dramatic variance of the weather here in Denver. Yesterday was sunny and mild. I wore a sleeveless dress with a light sweater and was quite comfortable as my dog Mack and I toured the Sloane’s Lake area and enjoyed a stroll around the park.

This morning I awoke to a blanket of white and the snow continues to fall. The seminar I was to attend this afternoon will likely be cancelled and the Brit just called to report that it took him a full hour to, as he puts it, “trundle in” to his lab (it should take 15-20 minutes).

Before he left for work this morning I offered Colin his choice of meatloaf or ribs for dinner, after scoping out the contents of our freezer. Much to my surprise, he opted for ribs. Much to his surprise we will be eating them Friday or Saturday night as, in my opinion, this day calls for Chicken Soup!!

Now this “recipe” will be a slight deviation from the norm, as what you put in your stockpot can and should vary, both by personal preference and by what is in your fridge.

So, I began my soup by slicing the remaining 2 Aidells Habanero & Green Chile Smoked Chicken Sausage and throwing them into the bottom of my stockpot over medium heat. These are readily available in many supermarkets around California and Colorado and I assume most other states, but I do not know. I love the spicy kick they give to a chicken soup, but you may not.

Once they were browned a bit, I added 2 onions, peeled and quartered, 5 cloves of garlic, 3 peeled and sliced carrots, 2 sliced celery stalks, 10 quartered mushrooms, 3 peeled and sliced parsnips, 2 unpeeled, diced Yukon potatoes, 1 bunch fresh parsley (with rubber band attached, for ease of disposal), and ½ bunch of fresh rosemary (also with rubber band attached). You can use any herbs you like, but if you are using sausage, you may not want to choose those that might “conflict” with your sausage, such as the fresh dill I like to use when omitting the sausage. I have also used dried herbs, but if you have fresh they really are better for flavoring.

I buy a rotisserie chicken every time I go to Cotsco. I can not resist their $4.99 price point and I use the meat to make sandwiches, quesadillas, pasta dishes, etc. I also admit to grabbing a wing or a leg, when starving and on the run. Having only made a couple of sandwiches from ours this week and having attacked only the wings and one leg, I would say I had about ¾ of the bird remaining and that went into my stockpot too. You can also use fresh, uncooked chicken-whole or parts or a turkey carcass. I can not say that I can taste a difference whether I use cooked or uncooked chicken or turkey.

After throwing all the above contents into my stockpot, I also added 2 cans of low sodium, no MSG chicken broth and then poured water into my pot just to the top of my chicken and vegetables. I then brought the contents to a slow boil, covered the pot, reduced the heat to low and will allow the soup to simmer and fill my home with its delicious aroma for about 3 hours.

Once it is done, or you just can not wait any longer, taste your broth to determine if you wish to add salt and pepper. At this point you may also add some fresh spinach to the pot, as it too is delicious in soup, but you don’t want to cook it for much longer than 5-10 minutes. Additionally, this is the time where you need to make a decision as to what else you may want in your soup, such as noodles, orzo or, healthier alternatives such as quinoa or barley, and get those started.

To put your soup together, I start by removing the banded herbs with a slotted spoon and disposing of them. I then put a large mesh strainer over an even larger glass bowl and begin to separate the meat and vegetables from the broth. As the bowl fills with broth, you may have to remove it to another container, such as your stockpot to make room for more.

I generally throw the celery and onion out, as we don’t love them in our soup. This is strictly a matter of taste. What is not optional is to discard the skin and the bones from the chicken and there is no elegant way that I know of to do this other than by hand.  Be careful to allow the chicken and vegetables to cool before attempting this, unless you are trying to remove your fingerprints for some reason.

Once this is complete your soup is ready and the only thing left to do is ladle and enjoy!

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