Friday, September 17, 2010

Comfort 101

Ok, guys, I'm REALLY happy that the temperature is holding steady at a comfortable 65-75º these days. Not only is it nice to walk around in jeans and sneakers again, I can indulge in soups and comfort foods again! Yay!!!!
(That is, when there are no tornados passing through...)

This winter I plan to make far more low-and-slow meals. My dutch oven will have pride of place on my stovetop instead of my non-stick skillet! I'm going to cook shanks of things, and they will be delicious!
(I hope. If I don't get too lazy...)

So to start things off, I'm doing the most basic of comfort foods for me: chicken vegetable soup.
Not only is it healthy and warm and full of comfort, it's also a great way to use up leftover vegetables from your crisper.

Not that I store my vegetables in the crisper.
I keep my champagne in the crisper.
Priorities, people.
Not pictured: most things in the Universe a potato
So this was really straightforward soup. I diced the onion, leek, 2 celery ribs, three (peeled) carrots, and let them soften in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, seasoned with a bit of salt.

Most people will tell you to just cook the veggies until they have sweat out a bit, but I like to push them until they have a little color starting on them. I think it gives the finished product a richer taste.
You could also accomplish that by roasting your veggies in the oven, particularly carrots or squash.

I added the chopped zucchini and the 2 cloves of garlic I ran across a microplane so they'd be invisible, and about a teaspoon and a half of chopped fresh thyme. Add a splash (1/4 cup) of white wine to pick up any brown bits, and then throw in about 3-4 cups of your favorite chicken stock.
I peeled and diced one medium sized Yukon gold potato,  (That one potato managed to get into EVERY bite of soup I ate in every bowl. It was magic.) threw in a bit of Parmigiano rind and 1 bay leaf, brought the whole soup up to a boil, and then let it simmer for about half an hour.
Checking my seasoning and adding a bit more salt, I garnished with some fresh basil (because I didn't have any dill) and served it with some crusty bread.

You may notice that there is no actual chicken in my Chicken Vegetable Soup, and that is simply because a) I did not have any on hand, and b) I frequently find the chicken part of any chicken soup to be the least pleasant part. It is almost always tough and somehow dry even tho it is immersed in liquid.
Go figure.
Replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock, and you can just call this a light vegetable soup. But I like both the flavor, the residual healthful benefits, and the psychosomatic response of eating chicken broth. It makes me happy.

What would make me even happier would be to use whatever chicken stock the Soup Stop on Columbus Ave uses, because their Chicken Noodle Soup is the best I have tasted anywhere, and as it only has 5 visible ingredients (chicken, carrot, celery, onion, & pasta) they must have some killer stock.
If they make it themselves, I must find out their secret.
And of course, unlike my own satisfying homemade soup, I can get theirs delivered to my door within 15 minutes. Instant gratification has its place.


Chuck said...

Very tasty...yummmm, I loves me some non-chicken chicken soup!

Lucky Punk said...

That picture is amazing. Can I move in with you and eat all your food? I'll help with housework, and try to be entertaining...

Jennifer said...

Mmm...that sounds perfect.