This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recipe Box: Homemade Chicken Noodle/Chicken and Rice Soup

This was a mainstay comfort food of our childhood, and every Thanksgiving after the carcass had been plucked nearly clean she would get out the stock pot and make gallons of turkey noodle soup for the freezer.

You’ll need:

leftover chicken or turkey with bones
6-8 carrots
6-10 stalks of celery
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
either noodles or rice

Large stock pot with lid.

If you’re making the stock to serve with noodles use 3 stalks of celery. If you’re using rice, use the 5 stalks. As mom put it, “for some reason rice always wants more celery.” Use the whole celery stalk (leaves and all) for best flavor in the stock.

Strip any pieces of meat left on the bones.  Discard any stuffing or herbs still in the cavity.  Otherwise skin, bones, leftover pan drippings and nameless wobbly bits go in the stock pot, meat goes in a separate bowl you stick in the fridge until the stock (broth) is made.

Chop 4 carrots, 3-5 stalks of celery and onion into big chunks (about 1”) and toss into the stock pot with the bones etc. Peel and crush the cloves of garlic and add that as well.

Add water until everything’s covered. Heat to a simmer then cover, turn down to low and let simmer for 3-4 hours. You can also toss everything in the crock pot and let simmer all day or overnight, but you won't get as much stock unless you have a very large crock pot. I make this during the week in stages, first night I make the stock, the next night I make the soup.

Strain through a colander into a bowl. Go through the colander and pick off any additional bits of meat you missed the first time. Toss them in the stock pot, then discard everything else you strained out. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the stock pot or freeze to use later.

Turn the heat back up to medium until the stock is simmering.  Chop remaining celery and carrots into bite-size pieces, and add to pot.  Add the meat you set aside earlier plus noodles or rice, and simmer according to rice or noodle package directions (about 20 minutes for white rice, 40 for wild rice, 10 for rice noodles, 15 for corn/quinoa noodles). Salt and pepper to taste.

Either the stock or the soup can be frozen in freezer-bags. It’ll last longer if you make sure there’s no air trapped in the bag. The stock can be frozen in ice cube trays, then bagged for use in flavoring rice, pasta or sauces.

The traditional chicken soup recipe leaves a lot of room to play with flavors. Try adding artichoke hearts or spinach in the last ten minutes of cooking, or maybe a little lemon juice, black pepper, wild rice and fresh asparagus. Up the garlic content and add cilantro and chili peppers for a cold and flu soup. 

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