January 30 – February 5, 2023
Monday: Split Pea Soup
Tuesday: Easiest Chicken Noodle Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Fried Rice
Thursday: Sweet and Sour Chops with Mock Frites
Friday: Roasted Salmon with Miso Rice, Cabbage Slaw, and Ginger-Scallion Vinaigrette
Saturday: Pat Lafrieda’s Steak au Poivre, Mock Frites, Israeli Chopped Salad (steak, courtesy of Uncle Bill in KC)
Sunday: Julia Child’s Creamy Chicken Soup with Rice and Peas
It was cold in Pittsburgh last week, and our thoughts turned to soup.* Soup is perfect for warming the heart and the rest of the body at this time of year. And soup is the perfect instrument for reasonably competent cooks to pack a lot of flavor into a dinner. The broth, of course, is the key. And softening onions and other vegetables, then simmering them on low with good seasoning, would even cause Jerry Seinfeld and his non-cooking friends to abandon the soup nazi for their own concoctions.
*What about gazpacho and chilled cucumber soup? The exception, I will remind you proves the rule. And if you lived in Granada in the summer, you’d be eating gazpacho, too. As for cucumber soup, like tea sandwiches, petit-fours and those vile-colored French pasties called macarons, there is simply no excuse.
Two weeks ago, the New York Times came out with one of its Sunday Cooking supplements and it was focused exclusively on soups, and we began to cook our way through it last week. On a particularly strenuous Tuesday, I was drawn to “Easiest Chicken Noodle Soup,” a recipe of Alice Weibel’s. I was a bit shocked to see that the chicken was ground chicken, but thought, what the hey. I’m tired, this looks easy, it’s got noodles, I have a baguette and a bottle of gin. How bad could it be?
Not bad at all – in fact, wonderful. And it turns out that if you want to get a lot of chicken flavor into the broth of your soup quickly, ground chicken is the way to go – more surface area to pick up and impart flavor? It didn’t hurt that the weather in Pittsburgh was brutally cold – the sort of cold that freezes your brow walking across the parking lot to the grocery story. You need some chicken soup on a day like that.
Now everyone who is not a sociopath loves chicken soup. It’s good for the body and good the soul and good for what ails you. And it really doesn’t take very long to cook – we’ve shared our favorite recipe for creamy chicken soup (Julia Child’s) and recipes for matzoh-ball soup with you and, honestly, we thought we were beyond more chicken soup recipes. But this recipe is so quick and so good and Beez said that it might be cold where you are, or you might be under the weather, and then SWMBO (Beez’s persona can change quickly) said, ‘share the chicken soup with them.’ So that’s what you’re getting this week – I know which side my baguette is buttered on.
And, if you’ll take my advice, you’ll work up some whipped butter and buy a baguette to go with the soup. Just leave a stick of butter on the counter when you get up in the morning and by the end of the day it will be soft enough to whip into a lighter spread with a fork. Add some Maldon sea salt, pack into a ramekin and rake some Zen garden designs across the surface, then sprinkle a bit more of the salt on top and serve with a nice baguette.
And, as you can see from the menus above, it’s okay to have chicken soup twice in one week.
Easiest Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from NYT Cooking Section 1/29/23)
Timing: 45 minutes Serves 4 or 5
5tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1pound ground chicken, Salt and black pepper
4garlic cloves, roughly chopped, 1½teaspoons ground coriander, ½teaspoon celery seeds (optional)
2celery stalks, halved lengthwise, sliced ½-inch thick, 1large carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1large shallot, finely chopped, 1tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
7 to 8cups chicken stock, plus more as needed, 8ounces dried egg noodles, cavatelli or other small shaped pasta,
Crème fraîche, chopped fresh parsley and dill, and lemon zest, for garnish
Chop and Slice Vegetables, parsley and dill (you can zest lemon directly over soup before serving.
In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add the chicken, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until starting to crumble. This takes 3 – 4 minutes.
Now add the garlic, coriander and celery seeds (if using), and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through – maybe 4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the chicken into a bowl, cover and set aside. (You cover it to retain the moisture.)
Now add the celery, carrot, shallot, thyme and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until coated with oil – 3-5 minutes
Now add the stock (7 cups for a stew-like soup or up to 8 cups for a brothy soup) and bring to a boil over high.
Once the liquid is boiling add the pasta or noodles and cook over medium-high until al dente according to package directions. (If the noodles absorb a lot of liquid, add more broth according to taste.) Add the reserved chicken and any accumulated juices and heat until warmed, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls; top with a spoonful of crème fraîche, a fistful of torn herbs and lemon zest.
Note: We served with a baguette and whipped butter. You can use sour cream or yogurt in place of the creme fraiche.