Wednesday, January 2, 2013

le creuset and chicken soup

it's only the beginning of winter, and it seems like everyone is getting sick so i thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make some comforting chicken soup. and why not make it in my le creuset!
i'm embarrassed to say it's been over a year since i received the flame orange dutch oven (christmas gift from sean <3), and this is the first time using it. in my head i was saving it for a special recipe and/or occasion. this of course turned into a year of culling recipes and never settling on one that i thought memorable enough. i couldn't let another year go by without using my le creuset, so i decided to just go for it--christen it with chicken soup.

i saw this recipe on smittenkitchen a while back, and what appealed to me was how simple and quick it is. i always thought chicken soup took a super long time to make, but with this recipe once you start cooking, the whole thing comes together fairly quickly. what i did not anticipate was the time it would take butchering the chicken. apparently i have no idea how to do that... i managed to break it down eventually but boy did that take a while. must read up on how to do that properly... after that minor obstacle the rest of the cooking was pretty easy, and i had a flavorful chicken soup in under an hour.

:: chicken soup ::
(recipe from smittenkitchen)
serves 4.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 lbs chicken, in parts, or 3 lbs chicken pieces of your choice
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons table salt (i used 1 teaspoon kosher salt)
freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot, diced (1/3-inch)
1 medium parsnip,* diced (1/3-inch) (optional)
1 large celery stalk, diced (1/3-inch)
3 oz dried egg noodles*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley*

prepare broth: in a large (5-quart) heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. add the onion and saute it for 3 to 4 minutes, until beginning to take on color at edges. add the chicken pieces (if too crowded, can do this in two batches), making little wells in the onions so that the parts can touch the bottom of the pan directly. cook chicken parts until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

add water, bay leaf, table salt and some freshly ground black pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. reduce the heat to a simmer and skim any 'scum' that appears at the surface of the pot. simmer pot gently, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

transfer chicken parts to a plate to cool a bit before handling. set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (ideally, with a spout) and pour soup through it.

if your pot looks grimy and you're fanatical about having a clear soup, you can give it a quick wash before returning the broth to the pot. you can remove a bit of fat at this point, if it looks necessary. bring the broth back to a simmer.

to finish and serve: add diced vegetables and simmer them until they're firm tender, about 5 minutes. add dried noodles and cook them according to package directions, usually 6 to 9 minutes. while these simmer, remove the skin and chop the flesh from a couple pieces of chicken, only what you're going to use. you won't need all of it in the soup. the remaining parts can be slipped into an airtight bag in the fridge and used over the next few days.

once noodles have cooked, add chicken pieces just until they have rewarmed through (30 seconds) and ladle into serving bowls. garnish with dill or parsley.

do ahead: if planning ahead, the point where you strain your chicken broth is a great place to pause. refrigerate the chicken broth until the next day. before heating it and finishing the recipe, you can easily remove any solidified fat from the surface for a virtually fat-free soup. then, you can cook the vegetables and noodles to order, adding the chicken only that it can rewarm (and not overcook!). if making the broth more than a day in advance, you might as well freeze it.

* i left out the noodles because i didn't have any; same with the parsnips and parsley.

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