Monday, 17 December 2012
There is something intrinsically soul enriching about a pot of homemade chicken soup. Something which speaks to the very essence of our being and at once nourishes as much as it comforts. Homemade chicken soup is like a nice warm hug in a bowl. I love it.
My mom has always been the consummate soup maker in the family. She has always been able to make soup out of absolutely anything . . . and it's always fabulous. Everything I know about making soup . . . I learned holding on to her apron strings. When my marriage broke up some 14 years ago . . . I was living in a rented room in a strangers house . . . not a very nice time for me. I was feeling very much unloved and estranged from my family. It was early in the Canadian Winter . . . and I had a horrible cold. I was sick, sick, sick. My mom showed up with some of her homemade chicken soup and a hug and I instantly felt better. Mom's and chicken soups . . . they just go together . . . kinda like peas and carrots.
They be perfect medicine for whatever ails you. December this year has been a challenging month in many ways, not the least of which has been my mother being diagnosed with Lung Cancer . . . I'll be flying home to be with her soon . . . but in the mean time it is really hard to be so far away. She who has always sustained me . . . is in need of some sustenance herself. I am entering that stage of life which we all have to go through . . . that time where the child now becomes the parent . . .
My good friend April posted this fabulous soup recipe on her blog, Dimples & Delights the other day, and it was just the perfect thing for me to fall upon . . . just like a warm hug from a friend, which I very badly needed. Sustenance for the soul. It looked so good. I just knew I had to make it . . . April is like a breath of fresh air to me. We have never met in person, but I just adore her. We have become kindred spirit friends, and even though I am old enough to be her mother . . . the scales of age just fell away from the get go . . . we be sistas! I love it when that happens . . . it is a rare and beautiful thing, that instant connection.
I made her soup for us yesterday and . . . at the risk of sounding like a mama bear . . . it was just right . . . it was delicious . . . and very much like a warm hug. I felt the love . . . beautiful. The best part of all is it's delicious AND easy . . . and as you all know by now . . . I am a rather lazy person. I had to make a few adaptions due to a lack of availability of ingredients here in the UK. We don't get frozen egg noodles here, in fact . . . I have never seen any kind of egg noodles here. I used potato gnocchi in stead.
They enabled me to keep the integrity of the original recipe and also please my pasta hating husband. Somehow he doesn't see gnocci as being pasta . . . and he loves a thick soup and this is just thick enough to be very pleasing to him.
In all to me . . . it was just like chicken pot pie . . . in soup form. Wonderfully comforting and beautifully tasty! Thanks April! I know you think I could teach you a thing or two about cooking . . . but I want you to know that you have a few tricks up your beautiful sleeve to teach me too.
I love it when a friendship is a give/give thing, don't you? Friendship, love . . . and comfort in a bowl. What a fabulous combination!
*Chicken and Gnocchi Soup*
A delicious soup based on a recipe from my good friend April. It's mostly her recipe but with a few twists of my own due to unavailability of certain ingredients.
2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 large brown onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 sticks of celery, washed, de-stringed and chopped
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds, about 1/4 inch thick
1 medium leek, trimmed, washed and cut into rounds (white and light green parts)
6 to 8 cups of chicken broth (I used the Knorr chicken stock pots, 3 in number plus 1 1/2 litre of boiling water)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1/2 tsp dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste (probably not necessary)
fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
a couple large handfuls of potato gnocchi (1/2 of a 500g (1 1/4 lb) packet)
Place the chicken breasts in a pot along with the chicken stock pots and water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, just until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth through to a clean jug. Shred the cooked chicken and reserve. Wash the pot and then return to the stove. Add the butter and allow it to melt over medium low heat. Add all of the vegetables, the dried thyme and some black pepper and a bit of salt. Give it all a good stir, Cover tightly and sweat over low heat until the vegetables are becoming tender. It may be necessary to add a TBS of the reserved stock from time to time. You do not want the vegetables to brown, just soften. Once the vegetables are softened, sprinkle the flour over top and stir it around. Cook for about 1 minutes and then ladle in the remainder of the reserved stock, stirring as you go. Bring back to the boil and then throw in the potato gnocchi as well as the shredded chicken. Simmer until the potato gnocchi float to the top. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Scatter with some chopped parsley and serve in heated bowls to enjoy! We had ours with some crusty bread. Scrummo! Thanks April!
Do hop on over and give her a nod! Tell her I sent you! I guarantee you will love what you find. Dimples & Delights