Fond childhood memories (soup kitchen)

I was going to do chicken and noodle next. Really I was. But I kicked off a randomizer and was bouncing around the internet and ran across something from my childhood and…

and I like this soup too, though it’s been far too long since I made it. So let’s go through it together. Again, don’t feel you have to use MY way, especially when it comes to chicken broth soups. There’s a reason everybody’s got more than one favorite here.

Now back when I told you I made my broth, I told you I didn’t do the veggies then. I added them at the time so I got what I wanted. Guess what, it’s time. I’m going to put a quart (4 cups) of broth in a pot. In that pot is also going to go one carrot, sliced into quarter inch dimes; two stalks of celery (I like celery) also sliced in quarter inch section; one onion, chopped; and two cloves of garlic, mashed (I like garlic, I actually use more – but I don’t want you running away). I’ll be adding herbs later – remember that they lose their potency if cooked too long. Oh, except for one bay leaf that’s going in now. This is going to simmer on the back burner for a while.

Now after it’s gone for half an hour, it’s time to wipe up the drool (oh, that smells good) and take the next step. I add a cup of rice – yes, raw, uncooked rice. I stir every three to five minutes.

Did you ever make risotto? Just a little broth, then stir (or shake) a while, then add a bit more broth, continue till the rice is tender and the broth is this creamy almost-gravy? Well, we’re sneaking that effect in here. Because of the extra broth the rice won’t make things as rich. There are several reasons for that, but basically it’s because the grains aren’t rubbing the starch off each other. They’ll still add a bit of starch, but not as much. Since I happen to like my soup a little thicker I do something about that, but not yet.

Now, by the way, is time to add the herbs. Nothing fancy here. Another minced garlic. Some fresh thyme. That’s really about it – the flavors are going to be complex enough as it is.

Now while the rice is cooking I sear a chicken breast. When it’s brown on each side I cut it into roughly half-inch cubes and finish browning it. The extra work just makes it easier and less messy to cut up, really – do a little to save a little. It’s going into the soup about two minutes before finish, but now I have a use for that frying pan. Just set the meat aside for now.

I add a splash of chicken stock first and deglaze, then pour that into the chicken soup. Now I add about two tablespoons of schmaltz and get it melted, then… oh, wait. Schmaltz.

Back when we were making broth, I told you to save the chicken fat. That’s schmaltz. It is loaded with flavor. Yes, it’s fat, but if you try this you’ll like it – assuming you like chicken.

See, we’re going to make a roux. Two tablespoons of schmaltz, melted. Add two tablespoons of flour, and start stirring this over medium heat till it lightly browns. We’re not going for the brick you use for gumbo. We’re making a thickening agent.

When the roux is done, ladle some of the soup into it and stir briefly to loosen the roux then return it all to the pot and start stirring. It will thicken a bit. We’re not looking for gravy, just a thicker soup. Add the chicken you browned, stir for a minute, and take off the heat to serve.

Cooking once, cooking twice
Cooking chicken soup with rice

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