18 October, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

Funk. I recently got caught in one. It lasted only a few days, but that was a few days longer than normal. Usually my funks go out as quickly as they come in. But this one had a hold on me and I couldn't shake it. I think we all go through these moments in our life where we are down, frustrated, irritable or sad. Regardless of how long your funk lasts or the reason for it, I think the best thing to do is acknowledge it and just let it be. Try getting some fresh air, exercising, eating healthy, but most of all go easy on yourself. You are normal. Funks happen. "This too shall pass."

It just so happened this recent funk of mine ended when I made my first ever homemade chicken soup. Coincidence? I think not.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes about 7-8 servings
6 cups chicken broth *
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz button mushrooms, diced
1-2 cups carrots, chopped
1-2 cups celery, chopped
1 tsp salt and more to taste**
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1.5 pounds chicken breast, cubed
2-3 cups small pasta
1.5-2 cups water

Add 2 tbsp butter to a soup pot on medium heat and saute onion for about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant then add carrots and celery and saute for a few minutes. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and thyme and saute for a few minutes. Add two cups of broth at a time to the pot and let it come to a simmer before you add the additional cups of broth. Once all broth is added, let simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes. Taste the broth and add another teaspoon of salt if needed. Add chicken and let it simmer for about five minutes or until cooked thouroughly. Bring soup to a low boil and add pasta until cooked al dente.  If your pasta expands and you need more broth add water and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and salt again if necessary. Turn off heat and serve.

*The secret to my chicken soup was the broth. My dad grilled a whole chicken the weekend before and I used the carcass (what a gross word) to make the broth. You can use a grilled or roasted chicken or even a rotissere chicken from the grocery. Once you remove the chicken from the bones, (we had already eaten the chicken but you could reserve it to add to the soup) place the carcass in a pot, cover with water and let it boil for an hour.  Remove from heat and strain through a colander. Discard bones and use broth for soup. I will never ever ever discard of the carcass again! This broth was amazing!

**Salting a soup is tricky. An under salted soup is fixable ; an over salted soup is a disaster. I started with 1 teaspoon of salt while sauteing the veggies, added a second teaspoon once all the broth was added and then a third teaspoon after the chicken and pasta was added. It could probably have used a tad bit more but I stopped there and added a pinch to the bowl after served.

03 October, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes

Alright, Alright! I realize this is not really a seasonal post but in our neck of the woods if we are really lucky we can get a fall tomato crop. And I found these big, red, beautiful tomatoes at the flea market the other day. Get a load of that! The flea market has great produce along with the following random items I saw available for purchase:

puppies (that are so cute you almost decide to buy one, then you wise up)
chickens & pigs (that are so cute you almost decide to buy one, then you smell them)
an antique telephone (that is so cool you almost decide to buy it, then you hear the price is $100)
a beautiful parrot (that is so pretty you almost decide to buy it, nah not really)
boiled peanuts (that smells so good you almost decide to buy them, and then you do)

Enough about that, onto the stuffed tomatoes. I would use them as a side dish or a main vegetarian dish with a side of pasta or light lunch with a salad.
Stuffed Tomatoes
4 tomatoes (big and somewhat firm)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1-2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Core tomatoes. Remove the insides with a spoon and set aside. Salt the tomatoes and leave them upside down to drain while making the stuffing. Combine insides of tomato with quinoa, cheese, basil, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and breadcrumbs. Stuff the tomatoes with quinoa mixture and then top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 400 degrees until breadcrumbs are browned and you can fork the tomato.