Thursday, September 14, 2006

Comfort Food

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 :).


Ashley said...

This sentence made me laugh: And it is so easy to make, once you get the hang of it!

My method: I open the can and put it in the saucepan. I pour one can of water in the saucepan. I heat until simmering and it's done! When I'm sick, the last thing I want to do is debone chicken. ;-) (Or wait until it's unfrozen!)

Of course, I've never had homemade chicken soup so I don't know what I'm missing perhaps. Eh, when I'm sick I'm not tasting much anyways!

Susan said...

I'm laughing at the image of you (or me) deboning a chicken when you're sick. I boiled that chicken weeks ago and froze the broth! All I had to do on Monday was plop the frozen broth in a pan and set it to melt on the stove :).

Susan said...

. . . And just to clarify, the point of my post was not to tell people they should be cooking from scratch when they're sick! Monday I was just feeling a tad "off," but I wouldn't have put forth the effort to make soup myself on Tuesday or Wednesday (or probably today), when I was feeling worse. That's why it was nice to have it already made :). If you're feeling awful, then pop open a can or ask a Family Dear member to make it :). This is not a guilt trip!

Ashley said...

Hehe I wasn't taking it as one! I think I came across a little harsh, but it was my attempt to be tongue-in-cheek. I definitely was not feeling guilty. :-) I like cooking - er, baking, from scratch, too. That's how I grew up.

I just wanted to give you a hard time about your soup. Because right after you said "It's so easy to make!" you promptly went on to describe this complicated procedure. It just made me laugh! I hope you're feeling better now!

Susan said...

It wasn't a complicate procedure! It's very low maintenance, in fact, because most of the cooking is just simmering and hands off.

Oh, and I knew you wouldn't feel guilty and you didn't come across harsh. I was clarifying for other people who don't know me so well :).

Anna Naomi said...

I hope you feel better soon! I've been interested in making homemade soup sometime. Perhaps I'll follow your suggestions, when ever I get around to it. =)

Jessica said...

Rambly posts are fun...and your soup sounds delicious...but nutmeg in chicken noodle?!! Hmmm...sounds a little odd, but I might have to try it...

Adrian C. Keister said...

Chicken soup may be a good comfort food, but I think a good ol' pb&j is really hard to beat. Or even a simple "benderback." You know, you take one slice of bread, spread peanut butter on it, and then "bend her back."

In Christ.

Deanna Regina said...

i love soup-i love fall! chicken soup, pumpkin pie, homemade bread...yummy! enjoyed the post!

Susan said...

Wow, your culinary tastes are. . . very high class, Adrian. I could at best get hired at a "home cooking" type restaurant, but you could probably get hired on at a fancy French restaurant.

Now you're making me hungry, Deanna Regina! I love pumpkin pie :). And my Dear Mother just brought homemade bread out of the oven, so I'm enjoying that right now. Fall is definitely my favorite season. There are so many sights and sounds that are associated with autumn!

Adrian C. Keister said...

Well, let's just say I can enjoy just about any food. Actually, I heard that bit about the pb&j being a great comfort food from one of those TV cooks. It wasn't Julia Child, but someone like that. In other words, a high-brow said that. So there! ;-)]

In Christ.

Susan said...

Mmhmm. Nice recovery. Fine,, PB&J is "high class."

I'm not really a fan of the old PB&J anymore, I must admit. I will happily eat it, mind you - there aren't many foods I'll refuse flat out - and it tastes all right. I just think I had my fill of PB&J by the time I was about 7. Chicken soup definitely is better :-D.

Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

See note regarding ":-D" on your Headship and Submission post.

Pb&j is even more high class when you use really good peanut butter (gourmet, for example ;-)) plus really good jam.

Well, chicken soup is fine, but I think I'm going to stick by the ol' pb&j. We'll have to agree to disagree on this important issue. *snickers*

In Christ.

Susan said...

Speaking of gourmet peanut butter, have you ever had almond butter? That is good stuff. And I agree about jam. I'm not a huge fan of either jam or jelly, but I'd much prefer jam. It's more like real fruit. . . because it is.

Agree to disagree? Adrian, there are some issues that two people should not let rest, because they are so pivotally important that they really must be discussed until the erroneous party (who we will anonymously refer to as "ACK") reaches the proper view. . . but then, this is definitely not one of those issues ;-D.

Adrian C. Keister said...

I have had almond butter, and very nice it is, too. I've also have white chocolate peanut butter, which is to die for. As for jam versus jelly, I'm definitely with you on that score. The jams with chunks of fruit in it, especially strawberry, is not to be beat.

Now, why am I simply assumed to be the erroneous party? And don't hide behind that "ACK" stuff. I see right through that. (Ja, and you're thinking, "I sure hope he does!") Is this just more of that, "If a man says something in a forest, and there's no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?" Hmph! *strikes up a pose remarkably similar to the king in The King and I*

In Christ.

Susan said...

*looks innocent* Oh! That is so funny! Your initials are ACK. Fancy that. What are the odds that three random letters form your initials?

Okay, okay, you are probably thinking that the answer is 1/17576, or approximately 5.69 x 10^-5, but I chose 6 x 10^-5 for my alpha value at which I reject the null hypothesis :-D.

So there.

Adrian C. Keister said...

All right. You win. I'm obviously not going to be able to top that come-back. Very clever. Kudos. Applause. Anything else that might add to the general effect of subtracting from your detractors.

It's been too long since I took stats. I don't remember null hypothesis and stuff. You're probably more up on that than I am since they tend to do stats in high school these days (at least, judging by the number of distinctly inferior TI-83 calculators floating around. The TI-86 is the most superior hand-held calculator known to man, with the TI-85 a close second.)

In Christ.

Susan said...

*victory* I thought it was a rather clever comeback, if I do say so myself.

( :-)

I do have a slight advantage over you in Statistics now, methinks, since I'm teaching it this year :). It's an extremely useful course.

That's rather harsh of you to call the TI-83 "distinctly inferior." It is if you're not using it for statistics, certainly, but the TI-83 was specifically designed for use with the AP Stat course, so it is very useful for statistics. It's not a matter of inferiority; it's a matter of specialization. *smile*

Besides, the TI-89 is hands-down my favorite calculator, not the TI-83. I've not used the TI-86 or TI-85 much, though, so I'm not a great judge. Why is the TI-86 best, may I ask? Can it do all the calculus that the TI-89 can do?