What is it about the chicken that is so conducive to making comfort food? Chicken and dumplings, for example, is the quintessential comfort food. Then there is chicken soup. Ahhh. The cure (or at least soothing application) for any and all illnesses.
Monday I was starting to feel a bit "bleh," so when I got home from math lab I made up some homemade chicken soup and let it simmer until supper. I'm glad I made plenty, because I've had it at least three times since, while I've been fighting a cold the last 3 days. What is it about chicken soup that is so wonderful and soothing when you're just feeling a bit ill? And homemade is infinitely superior to store bought, I promise. It especially tops "chicken and stars" ;-). And it is so easy to make, once you get the hang of it!
The first time I made chicken noodle soup it was, um, "blah" to put it plainly. Pun intended, because it was very plain tasting. I had made really weak homemade broth, just using a chicken carcass, lots of water, and no seasonings, and it showed. Now when I make broth, though, I first cover a whole chicken with water and boil it until done, pull it out of the broth and let it cool a bit, then debone the chicken and freeze the meat in meal-size portions. Then I return the carcass to the broth and reboil for a few hours longer. This gives the broth so much more flavor. I sometimes cook carrots or onion with it, but not usually. I also add thyme, nutmeg (my favorite seasoning for chicken dishes!), a little salt, and some pepper. Those two boilings make such a rich broth, that is excellent for soups, stews, and casseroles. . . . and perfect for chicken noodle soup. *happy sigh*
When we haven't had homemade broth available, we've used store-bought broth before to make chicken and dumplings or chicken pie. If you do that, just be careful. For most store-bought broths, the majority of the flavor is just salt. Some broths have set my heart racing from the sodium content! Homemade broth has much more of a chicken flavor, and I find that barely any salt is needed to compliment it.
Chicken noodle soup is such a flexible dish, but what I did on Monday, for example, was get the broth boiling (I freeze it in plastic containers in 2-6 cup amounts in the freezer). Then I added one raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast, and let it boil until cooked. This gave the broth even more flavor :). While the chicken was cooking, I chopped up some carrots and celery and added that to the broth. Once the chicken was cooked, I cut it up and returned it to the soup. I let all that simmer for a while, until about 20 minutes before I was ready to eat. Then I turned up the broth to boiling again and added bowtie pasta (you could use whatever kind, but that's what was on hand) and let it boil until cooked through. Then I turned the pasta down a bit and added corn 5 minutes before serving. I realize I just gave absolutely no measurements (minus the one chicken breast), but soup is a "looks right" type of dish.
Anyway, that was a rather rambly post, but I'm sitting here on the couch without a whole lot to do, not feeling terribly ill, but still a bit "bleh," so I'm having to postpone my regularly scheduled activities for the day. So my blog friends get to listen to me ramble :).