One of the most satisfying meals in my mind is a steaming bowl of homemade soup. It warms you up on a chilly evening and is a cure for what ails you. Good soup was part of my youth, with a mother and grandmother who made great, traditional Newfoundland soup, namely chicken and rice soup, turkey vegetable soup, pea soup, and beef and barley soup. I can't count how many times I saw Mom or Nan standing over the pot with a paring knife and an onion, slicing off small pieces and using her thumb like a cutting board. While not a technique I would use, I've seen many other Newfoundland "moms" using the same method. With results that were so good, who am I to question their technique?
After a couple weeks of disregard for what I ate and drank, or how much I exercised, I really needed something nourishing and satisfying. With a lingering bout of a cold, homemade soup was the answer.
Following the wisdom of James Barber (The Urban Peasant), I used what I had available in my fridge and pantry, kept it simple, and easy! I had three bone-in chicken breasts in my freezer, staples of onion, celery and carrot in my fridge, and medium shells (pasta) in the cupboard, so with a few other ingredients, my quick chicken soup was made. Here is my recipe, but feel free to use what you have for substitutions.
Chalet-Style Chicken Soup
Cook in a large Dutch oven, over high heat, 3 bone-in chicken breasts with enough water to cover (water should be about 2 inches from the top). Chop and add one small onion, 3-4 leafy parts of celery ribs, one carrot, plus 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, plus 1 tsp of summer savoury. Once the lot comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
Remove chicken and allow to cool until they can be handled with bare hands. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from the stock.
To the cleared stock, add:
• 1 medium onion, minced
• 3 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
• 3 carrots, quartered and slice thin
• 1 small turnip, diced fine
• 1 large potato, diced fine
Simmer for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, remove skin and bones from chicken and dice or shred with hands into large chunks/pieces. Once veggies have cooked for 15 minutes, add chicken and add 1/3 pound of medium-sized pasta shells. Cook for an additional 8-9 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Be sure not to overcook the pasta. Add a bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley for colour and to brighten up the flavour. Taste, and adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper.
For me, this soup was just what we needed. It was savoury, rich, flavourful, and extremely satisfying...everything a good bowl of soup should be. Enjoy!
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