Sunday, October 20, 2013

Warming Up with Chicken Soup

We have been so busy these past few weeks…my dad was up from Florida, my cousins were up from North Carolina (who we haven’t seen in years), and we are trying to fill our days with fun Fall activities like pumpkin picking, hayrides and parades!

Today we decided to take Harper to our town’s Oktoberfest at the local park.  Hayrides, games, food and Harper’s personal favorite: pumpkin painting!  She carries her pumpkins and gourds around the house like a prize! I made a yummy breakfast and knew I didn't want to cook for the rest of the day—just family fun time, so I took out my crock pot and some leftover chicken soup from the freezer.  I put the soup in my crock pot (using a liner, of course!) on high and at the last minute I added some dumplings and let them cook up.  DELISH.  My family would eat chicken pot pies until they were blue in the face, but my loyalty is to chicken and dumplings (right, dad?).  

This recipe is different than the other recipes we've used in the past.  While the other recipe is super quick and delish, it uses canned soup, broth and biscuits.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that easy convenience and it’s certainly yummy to eat, but once in a while you just need a home cooked meal from scratch.   This recipe certainly delivers there!  I made the stock from chicken and veggies from our local Amish Market and the dumplings are an easy mixture of pantry staples.   Don’t be scared of making stock…it’s time consuming for sure, but SO SIMPLE.  And really cost effective.  Plus, you get to control the ingredients and seasonings to fit your family’s needs--I go low salt for Joe’s high blood pressure.  I don’t use the chicken from my stock making in my soup.  I find that it just gets way too dry and chalky.  I prefer to bake bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in the oven (seasoned with a little salt and pepper) and dice that when cooled.  It may seem wasteful, but no one wants to eat dry chicken! But to be a bit more frugal, I will save my chicken bones from oven roasters and make stock using two of them.

Homemade Chicken Stock
1 whole chicken
2 onions, halved
4 stalks of celery
3 carrots (or 1c small carrots)
A few cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
Pot herbs (rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage)
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp whole peppercorns
Salt & pepper to taste

1.       Add all ingredients into a large stock pot.  (I add the insides of the chicken, just make sure to remove them from any bags or wrapping they may be in).
2.       Cover the ingredients by 1 inch with cold water. (No more or it will dilute the flavor.)
3.       Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 6 hours.
4.       Drain stock into a large bowl or pot using cheese cloth (or a clean dish towel works, too).
5.       **Now the stock is ready to be used in a soup OR can be cooled and frozen at this point.**

      To FREEZE: Allow to cool and store in containers.
To EAT: Thaw, reheat slowly over low heat in saucepan. 

Homemade Chicken Soup
Chicken Stock (about 2 quarts*)
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup pasta, uncooked
Salt and pepper to taste

1.       Heat oil in a large pot.  Add diced carrots, followed by diced celery and onion.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.  
2.       Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
3.       Add pasta and cook according to package. *Add more stock if the pasta absorbs more broth than you’d like.
4.       Add diced chicken. 
5.       Serve and enjoy!

To FREEZE: Allow to cool and store in containers.
To EAT: Thaw, reheat slowly over low heat in saucepan. 

**Special note: When I make a large batch of soup and plan to use some for Chicken and Dumplings I will cook the pasta in a separate pot of water.  I will add the pasta to my bowl and then ladle the soup on top.  I prefer my chicken and dumplings to not have pasta. You can also do this to prevent the pasta from absorbing the chicken broth in the soup. **


Homemade Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Soup (without the pasta)
2 c. Flour
1 tsp parsley
Salt & pepper
¼ c Ice water + more as needed

1.       Heat the soup until simmering.
2.       In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper and parsley.  Add water a bit at a time and stir.  Should be sticky. (Add more water or don’t as needed.)
3.       Drop spoonfuls of dough into simmering soup.  Allow to simmer for 25 minutes until cooked through. 
4.       Serve warm and enjoy!
{I think it gets better on the second day after the dumplings have more time to soak up the broth!}

To FREEZE: Allow to cool and store in containers.
To EAT: Thaw, reheat slowly over low heat in saucepan. 

What keeps you warm on a cold day?

Stay full!

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