Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chicken Soup Recipe Goes Italian

Chicken Soup Made Italian

What could be better than steaming bowl of chicken soup on a cold day? A steaming bowl of chicken soup-with an Italian twist, of course!

Start with a really good chicken broth (tips below) and then add some chopped greens (preferably escarole), white beans, pasta, shredded chicken, even some chopped tomatoes. Oh, and don’t forget to top it all with some shaves of good parmigiano reggiano.

Here are some ground rules, followed by a recipe.

Use a whole chicken: Each partbreast, legs, wings and backcontributes to the well-roundedness, freshness, and richness of the flavor.

Consider using chicken stock as a base:  The result is a more intense flavor.

Add the right amount of water: That is, the exact level of the chicken and vegetables. No more and no less.

Keep it at a simmer: Flavors need to leach out and mingle slowly and gently. Rapid boiling just ruins it. More importantly, it cause the protein in the meat and vegetables to break and make the soup cloudy. This is especially critical if you are using a marrow bone.

Chicken Soup
4 quarts water or chicken stock
1 large cut-up chicken, traditionally stewing or large roaster, but a good organic chicken will do (try to get the biggest one you can)
Marrow bones
3 whole onions, halved, unpeeled
2 parsnips, peeled and left whole
5 stalks celery and their leaves
1 rutabaga, peeled and quartered
1 large turnip, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Put the water and the chicken in a large pot and bring the water to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat and bring to a simmer. Skim off the froth.
Add the chicken, marrow bones, onions, parsnips, celery, rutabaga, turnip, and carrots. Cover and simmer for 2½ hours, skimming frequently the solids that float to the surface. Stay in the kitchen and hover over the soup. It should never boil. You want to see a very slow, lazy bubbling.
When done let cool a bit. Strain, pressing the vegetables and chicken down lightly to release flavorful juices. Discard the vegetables and reserve the chicken. Strain the liquid again through a double layer of cheesecloth. Adjust  the seasoning to taste and let cool.
Refrigerate the liquid to solidify the fat. When the fat solidifies, remove it from the soup.
Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and cut the meat into bite-size chunks.

To Italianize it:
1 cup shredded chicken
2 cups escarole, or other sturdy greens, shredded
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Good olive oil for shaving
1/2 cup chopped high quality Italian canned tomatoes (option)
A nice chunk of parmigiano reggiano for “shaving”  

Bring the soup back to a boil. Drop the chicken into the boiling soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the greens and beans and simmer until wilted, 5 minutes longer. Divide into individual bowls, drizzle with good olive oil and, using a vegetable peeler, shave on some parmesan. Serve immediately, passing extra cheese at the table.

Many thanks to Nirit Yadin,, for her help