Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tasty delicious "Ski Soup": My Basic Soup Recipe

This is one of my favorite "go to" soup recipes.  I usually call it "kitchen sink soup", because it's perfect for using whatever you have on hand. Anything and everything could go into it, all the way up to the kitchen sink.

It's perfect to simmer on the stove so you can make it mid-afternoon and let it go until dinner.

Typically, I use chicken in this soup -- best is chicken thigh meat, though you could use chicken breasts instead.  

One of my favorite Christmas gifts from Jonathan was a pot that I have coveted from Costco since I first read about it this summer: the cast iron dutch oven.  The Costco version of Le Creuset.  But several hundred dollars less.  :)

But I made it for a year in my normal saucepot, so you don't need the fancy pot.  But it is the bomb.  Just saying.

Start it up with a mirepoix of vegetables.  Usually, a mirepoix is onions, celery and carrots.  Diced up.  I added a little sweet potato to the mix as well.

Add to a pre-heated pot on the stove, with a little oil.  Never add veggies to oil in a cold pot.  They'll soak in the oil instead of sizzling and sauteing in it.  (Here's an awesome video illustrating why from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.  And while we're at it, here's another sweet video from them showing how to properly dice an onion. You'll thank me for sending you their way.  Promise.)

Anyway, toss the veggies into the oil and saute until the veggies begin to soften.

I threw in a little garlic (always near the end of sauteing!  Not at the beginning!  If you scorch it, life is over.  Your soup's life anyway.) and sun-dried tomatoes.  But don't tell Jonathan about the sun-dried tomatoes.  That explicitly violates his "no tomatoes" rule.  He also has a "no lemons" rule.  I'm glad I didn't know that before we got married.  But I digress.

Add the minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.  But alas, this is optional.  I don't always add either.  That's the beauty of the soup.  Don't want to add it?  Don't! 

Add a few spices into the mix.  I tossed some white pepper from Penzeys.  You can use whatever you'd like.  Salt, pepper (the old standbys), rosemary, italian seasoning, whatever. 

After this point, I'd usually deglaze with some white wine.  However, I'm pregnant and I can't drink it, so I decided not to torture myself with a nearly full bottle of wine around.  No deglazing tonight.  But if there's an open bottle of wine around, I'd deglaze with half a cup to a full cup of wine.

I added the chopped chicken (what I had left over from last week's baked chicken - about two cups) and a can or two of chicken broth, using first the half-used can from the fridge.

I use Swanson's Natural Goodness Chicken Broth.  Hands down at cooking school it was agreed that it is the most homemade-tasting, while not being homemade.  And Costco has it in big quantities for a small price.  Happiness abounds.

Meet my helper.  Right now, he's rearranging all the dishes in the sink for me.  And then pouring water over them.  And then lifting each one up for me to see.  He's very helpful.  And we are clearly a pants-optional home.

Then I let the soup simmer.  For this dinner, it simmered for about an hour as I made tasty cornbread muffins and rescued the dishes from my handy helper's growing pile of water and suds.

About a half hour before serving, I popped in some lower-sodium white beans. Always drain + rinse the beans. You could toss in noodles instead if you wanted a chicken-noodle style soup (shells, rotini, elbows all work well).  You can also add spinach here as well.  I gave the last of the spinach to the chickens, so there was none for us.  But if there had been, I would have tossed that in too.

I love to serve this soup with fresh avocado and shredded cheese.

Ladled into bowls and ready to have avocado added.  YUM.  Cornbread muffins on the side. 

And a quick acknowledgement of my very favorite honey: orange blossom honey. A treat on or in baked goods, and tasty delicious especially on cornbread.  Love it.

The Wee Ski's first words as he started to eat his soup?

He is very good for the chef's ego. 

He also likes to show you his full belly when he's done.  And then channels his inner Cornholio.  Which was promptly followed by a big yawn and starting to fall asleep at the table.  Clearly, Mommy and Papa aren't exciting enough company. 

The leftovers went into a storage container in the fridge.  Will freeze a quart today (planning ahead to the arrival of Wee Ski 2.0) and the rest we'll have for lunch.

I'm all about cooking once, eating twice or thrice, for that matter.  :)

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