double triple sick soup extravaganza ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

04 May 2007

double triple sick soup extravaganza

I should know better than to write about what to do when sick, because then I apparently jinx myself into actually becoming sick. Sick! Ugh! No more sick!

Last night I was being all pathetic in the bed when John came home and asked what I wanted. I wanted pudding cups. I had actually been to the store before on the way home (sick) from work, where I looked at every single can of terrible canned soup and discovered just how bad the salt situation is even in those supposedly low-salt canned soups, oh my god! Even they had 20% of the rda per serving; the regular ones were like "60% sorry you can't eat anything else at all today. Ok, maybe water." So I of course came home with my lowest salty soup ("chicken tortilla" i.e. marginally spicy tomato with chicken and rice and like six black beans and pieces of corn) and simmered it and ate the whole thing with two pieces of toast per bowl. Also with chamomile tea and honey, of which we are now out.

BUT the point there is that while in the store I had realized I had no money and so I could only get soup AND NO PUDDIN CUPS! It was tragic and horrible in every way! So I ate my stuff and got in bed with a suitably trashy novel and fell asleep on top of it until John came home several hours later and asked me what I wanted to eat. Puddin? Toast? Chicky soup? And so he went to the store and got puddin and gingersnaps and ice cream and lemon and celery and carrot and onion and A WHOLE CHICKEN with which to make actual real chicken soup.

Here's what happened to make the chicken broth:

6 pound chicken
lots of celery and carrots
two vidalia onions, or regular yellow ones, whatever
green onions if you want
salt and pepper
lots of water
huge stockpot

Clean the gack out of your chicken. I stayed firmly upstairs in bed drinking my hot toddy and eating gingersnaps during this business, so I cannot provide many details. This is probably a good thing in the end. Basics: get the giblets out and throw them away, or save the liver if you want it. Get rid of the neck. Cut the legs off the chicken. Wash it if you feel the need. That's it.

Get out your biggest pot, one that will hold a whole chicken and vegetables besides, and fill it maybe halfway with water. Put it on high heat and add the chicken. While that is coming to a boil, chop up your other vegetables and add them to the pot. You want roughly equal amounts of carrots, celery, and onion. Chopping size is really not important. You could even make said soup with entirely whole vegetables. Whatever. I know John left the several green onions whole. Give the broth a little salt and pepper, add enough water to cover everything, and bring the whole business to a simmer. I say a simmer as opposed to a boil since this is a huge pot of all kinds of stuff and it's going to take some time to get it up to anything resembling a boil.

Simmer everything for a long time, at least an hour, but probably more. Skim off whatever gack comes to the surface and chuck it.

After the hour or hour and a half, check on your chicken to see if it's fully cooked. John actually lifted the entire whack of vegetables and everything out of the pan, removed the chicken to a cutting board, and threw out the drained vegetables. The rest of the broth got to simmer and be skimmed some more. You should do that too, as otherwise there will be an astonishing amount of fat rising to the top of each bowl of soup while you're trying to eat it. CHICKEN BROTH!

The actual chicken noodle soup bit:

enough of the broth for two bowls or one big bowl
enough of the chicken, skinned and shredded
another half onion
and some more celery
and we ran out of carrots
but we did have delicious noodles
and also salt and pepper
and parsley.

Chop up the onion and saute it with butter in a small saucepan. The rest of the broth can continue simmering for however long while said onion softens. Chop up a couple sticks of celery, and carrots if you haven't run out of them, and let them soften too. When things are reasonable, add your stock and chicken bits. We used mostly dark meat for the soup and kept the giant shreds of white for sandwiches and potential chicken fingers in The Future. Item: do you know why people use the terms "white meat" and "dark meat"? Because in the scenic Victorian days people were too prim and hysterical to use the words "breast" and "thigh" and even I guess "leg" in polite conversation!! ! Note use of the word "hysterical" to apply to Everyone!

Ok. Bring everything up to a simmer, then add your pasta. We had very pretty and appropriately spoon-sized rotelle. Just stick in the pasta and let everything cook until said pasta is done. You may need to add a little more of the hot broth if the pasta decides to suck it up too mercilessly. Then taste and add salt and pepper. I thought this wanted lots of pepper. It also wanted lots of parsley, which John chopped up and threw in. Then he was worried there was too much parsley. Item: there is never too much parsley.

Eat it. There was no way I could finish my entire pot's worth crammed into one bowl, but I made a respectable headway. I kept eating and eating and finally put the very end bits in the refrigerator. Then today I had them for breakfast.

In the meantime, get your gigantic pot of stock off the heat so it will start to cool. The most effective cooling method is to transfer it into whatever storage containers you have around, as opposed to into a large metal heat-conducting pot. We filled I think six different containers within half an inch of the top. Lots of broth! Let your containers sit out to cool for a while before you put the lids on. If you put the lids on while things are still steaming, guess what happens to the soup? IT FERMENTS! Don't do that. Instead, let them cool for an hour or so, Then put on the lids and stick them in the freezer.