As a most of you who either know me, or read my blog will know, I LOVE soup. A lot. My header is even a picture of me making soup. I eat it nearly every day. Even with the frequency with which I eat soup, you're probably thinking "Part two? I don't remember seeing any 'part one'...".
Well you see, part one of this story happened over a year ago before I started this blog! And it was such a disaster, I probably wouldn't have even posted about it. One of the great staples of soup is the Homemade Chicken Soup. I'd always wanted to make one, and one way to do this is with a leftover chicken carcass. With this is mind, I roasted one up, made soup the next day and- Blech. It was bland, flavorless, disgusting.
I tried to find a picture of disappointing soup to
put here, but it's surprisingly hard to find a photo
of soup that adequately expressed my
Anyway, I've mulled over what went wrong with my first chicken soup, and came to some helpfull conclusions.
- I didn't break down the carcass of the chicken, so it took a LOT of water to cover it in the pan. As an already roasted chicken has had a lot of the flavor already leached from the bones, this lead to really, really bland and flavorless broth.
- I went ahead and added the veggies to an already flavorless broth, expecting them to bolster the flavor. This is a huge no-no in soup- never put your main ingredients into a lackluster flavor base, you'll get lackluster results.
- When the soup was nearly completed, it was STILL flavorless, so I cooked it far longer then necessary trying to get more flavor out- this gave me a big pot of bland water and tasteless overcooked veggies.
So skip forward to last night. I was sitting on the couch thinking about the two game hens I'd roasted over the weekend when Lance came down and stayed the night. (We had a full sit down dinner, with all the trimmings, something I hadn't yet gotten to do at our new kitchen table!) I really love roasted chicken when it's fresh, but I hate it left over. I've discovered I'm not real fond of chicken salad either, which is what I usually do with the leftover meat. I needed to use those game hens today, or throw them out- so I opted to try that soup ONE more time. I mean, everyone else says it's fantastic; There's gotta be something there!
I got up fairly early this morning, tidyed up the kitchen and set to work pulling meat off the bones. Matt got up and made us some coffee. "I'd give you a snuggle" I told him "But I have chicken hands."
"Aww." He said, hugging me from behind anyway, which would have been a more tender moment if this image wasn't in my head:
I tossed the torn up bones into the pot, which being game hens were already more compact, and covered it with water to simmer for a while. I was actually kind of surprised by how much meat was left on them. This is why I don't really like leftover chicken, I mean look at it!
Anyway, I let the bones simmer with some bouillon (To help bolster the flavor) for about two hours before I strained it off. Tasting it, I discovered the broth had a delicious rich, full flavor! I sauteed some mushrooms in the pot with a little butter for flavor, added the carrots, celery and onions, topping off with the broth. Then I added some bay leaves, thyme, pepper, paprika, basil and a pinch of oregano. By this time, it smelled amazing!
I let that simmer until the veggies were done, then stirred the chicken in, and let it warm through. My mouth was watering, and I could hardly wait to try the results. I already knew it would be a marked improvement over my first dismal effort nearly two years ago!
I ladled out some in my special soup bowls (Green of course!), added some parsley for color and set about taking the most awkward photos ever...
This was the clearest, most color true I could get it to come out, but it looks like some giant, cosmic bowl of soup looming up at you out of the darkness... Oh well! I quickly sat down and dug in.
Sorry, I just fainted there for a second remembering how delicious it was! Everything was perfect! The flavors were bright and robust, the veggies perfectly done, the chicken was NOT stringy and had a fantastic flavor! If but a smidge too salty, a fault on my part not accounting for the saltyness of the bouillon, it was fantastic. I'll be having it for dinner tonight, with a fresh baked loaf of bread to compliment. Can't wait!
So now I can officially say I've made some damn good Homemade Chicken Soup! I think we'll be having roast chicken more often now!