Earlier this week my second son was hit hard with bad headaches, and we as a province were hit hard with a crazy snowstorm. When my son asked me to make chicken soup for dinner it seemed like a good idea to me. First, because he was sick, and homemade soup is very nutritious. Second, because you wouldn't believe the storm raging outside. And third, because soup is comforting, and I thought he could use the comfort.
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
6.5 c. chicken stock (I used homemade that had cooked the night before)
2 bell peppers
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp cornstarch
~1/4 c black bean spaghetti (more would have been fine)
1 tsp each oregano, thyme, anise seed, salt, and cilantro
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp each seasoning salt and Italian seasoning
Dice onion and garlic, and sauté in olive oil. Dice vegetables and chicken. Add vegetables and spice to onion mixture, and stir well, cooking on low, to start them softening. Mix cornstarch with chicken, then stir in to vegetable mixture. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring your soup while adding the liquid. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Simmer about 15 minutes, then add black bean noodles (I cracked mine into small, bite sized pieces). Simmer another 10 minutes or until noodles, potatoes, and carrots are cooked. Salt and pepper to taste
It seems ludicrous to make a pot of soup when it's almost 30*C outside, but we have to defrost our freezer next week so I'm trying to empty it out. I had everything I needed, so this was dinner tonight. The bowl pictured is my first son's bowl. He likes his soup with crackers. This recipe came out of my head- a Meals Maven exclusive.
1 can navy beans, rinsed well
4 c. chicken stock
4 c. ham stock
1/2 ham steak, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 c chopped potatoes
1/2-1 c. whipping cream
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp ground black pepper
A note, to start: you don't have to use whipping cream. Use whatever milk you have on hand. I had that in the freezer, so I used it. Ordinarily I don't use such a fatty cream for milk soups- usually homogenized, if we have it, skim milk, or half & half,
Combine all ingredients except beans, whipping cream, flour, and butter in the slow cooker. Cook on high until it comes to a simmer.
At that time, melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix in the flour, then add ladelfuls of soup, stirring to thicken slightly. Add more flour if you desire a more thick soup.
Return the thickened stock to the slow cooker, turn the heat off, and add the cream and beans. Serve immediately.
This would have been delicious if served over something green, like fresh baby spinach, or a handful of frozen peas. However, I used what I had, and it turned out very tasty.
Verdict: Husband said "It smells really good in there," as I was cooking, and came back for seconds. My first born gobbled up his bowl almost completely. My second born was having a temper tantrum, so I didn't bother giving him any tonight but will definitely serve leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It was very tasty.
I made chicken stock last night while I was sleeping. Aren't I amazing? Seriously though I learned this trick from Chef Michael Smith while watching one of his Chef at Home episodes.
You take all your ingredients, dump them into a slow cooker, add water, then turn it to "low". Then go to bed! When you get up in the morning you'll have a pot of amazingly flavourful stock *almost* ready for use.
Chicken or Beef Bones for meat stock OR
Vegetables, for vegetable stock
Any or all of the following:
Bay leaf or 2
Whole garlic cloves
Large onion, cut into large chunks
Celery stalk or 2, cut in half
Carrot or 2, cut in half
Any leftover veges you want to get out of your fridge
Splash of vinegar or lemon juice (for meat stock- helps get more calcium into your stock)
Add the bones and cover with water. Add everything else. It's ok if the veges aren't completely covered. Cover your slow cooker with its' lid, turn temperature onto "low" setting, and walk away for at least 8 hrs. I have left mine for up to 24 hours. The longer it cooks, the deeper the flavour.
When you get back to it, strain out the solids, cool the liquid enough to refrigerate, and let it completely cool down in the fridge. If using meat bones you will have a layer of solidified fat to remove before freezing or using your stock. I usually skim off this fat and then use medium freezer bags to store the stock until I need it. Make sure you zip up the bag, removing as much air as possible (to prevent freezer burn), label it with contents and date, then freeze flat- this makes it easier to store frozen stock bags upright so they take up less space.
Some frugal tips:
When cutting up green onions, don't toss out the root and lower portion that you don't use- toss into a freezer bag.
Wash and scrub all your vegetables before peeling them, then instead of throwing out or composting your peelings, toss them into a freezer bag. I have heard cruciferous vegetables aren't as good to freeze- they start to stink like sulfur when they're boiling.
If vegetables are a bit soft- not moldy, just not as crisp as you'd like for a salad or vege tray, put them right into your freezer bag.
NEVER use moldy produce for stock. Those should defintely be discarded in some way.
Remember, remove as much excess air as possible before freezing anything. You will get much less freezer burn.
Many-hatted wife and mom: cook, chauffeur, planner, payer-of-bills, and buyer-of-groceries, among others.