Today I am making Chicken Soup, entirely from scratch. This post is my first post on what I am going to be doing, as well as how I prepared to make soup. I’ll post this, then later add a bunch of photos as well as a second post (or two) about the final results.
But first as I would argue in every case when it comes to food, it all starts with what you put into the food you are making. Yesterday I spent much of the day shopping for the three+ meals I will be cooking over the next two days. First a few dishes I’m bringing to a party this evening (for Jewish friends and other refugees from Xmas) and then on the 25th a brunch and likely dinner I’m hosting also for friends for whom the 25th is a day off work when most things are closed.
For my soup I shopped at three places this evening.
First, my butchers, in my case Drewes Bros Butchers which is reputed to be the oldest continuously open butcher’s shop in all of California, now owned by the fourth family to own it, it is an amazing neighborhood institution and bastion of really amazing food (and service). There I purchased a whole, free-range roasting chicken as well as two very full bags of chicken backs & necks. The parts will go into making the stock, the whole chicken into the completed soup.
Second, to my local neighborhood produce market, another amazing local institution and literally a corner store. There I bought bunches of celery, large (and baby) carrots, fresh Thyme, and onions (sweet and yellow) which will all play a part in the final soup.
And third, before I went to see the movie Milk this evening I stopped by another neighborhood institution, Cliff’s Variety where I purchased a conical sieve to use while making the stock.
To make the stock my plan is to take the chicken backs and necks out and place them into a roasting pan and roast them until a bit browned. I will also roast a few carrots roughly cut, celery, and a roughly cut whole yellow onion. When these are a bit softened I’ll put them in a lot of water which I will let boil. I’ll then deglaze the roasting pan and pour those juices into the pot as well. For spices I’ll add fairly course sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh thyme, a few very high quality bay leaves, and probably a few cloves of fresh garlic.
I will let this simmer until the meat is falling off the bones, the bones are separating, and the vegetables are quite fully cooked.
Then I will pour this mixture through the conical strainer into containers and will seal those containers and place the stock into the fridge.
Next I will take the whole roasting chicken, rub it with butter, sea salt and fresh pepper and will roast it. Probably with some of the fresh Thyme in the inside cavity. As the chicken roasts (I’ll occasionally check on it and baste it if it looks necessary) I will also dice into bit size portions some organic carrots from the farmer’s market, celery, a few sweet onions, and will also use the baby carrots I bought. These I will roast (for about half the time as the chicken) – tossing them in a little bit of olive oil (extra virgin) and sea salt.
When the chicken is done and the vegetables are roasted (but still slightly hard – i.e. not entirely soft) I will take the chicken out and let it rest. Then I will carve the chicken (skin included) into small, bite sized portions, though I may leave some bones (legs, wings).
For the final soup I will skim off any fat from the cooled stock, heat the stock and then add the vegetables and let that simmer for a while, then I will add the chicken and taste (it may still need salt or other spices). For the final touch, just before serving I will stir in a few just cracked organic, cage free eggs into the piping hot soup, stirring as I do so to create egg drop soup.
I hope the result will be fairly tasty. It should, deliberately, be relatively mild, though the carmelization as a result of roasting (both of the bones for the stock and the whole chicken) should add layers to the flavor. I’m cooking for about 10-15 people later tonight so I suspect there may not be a lot of leftovers.