Serves 3 (or 2 with enough leftovers for 2 lunches)
A good hot bowl of soup is such a comfort on a drizzly day, which we get a lot of in Seattle. Homemade soup is way better than canned soup. And it’s not hard to make if you consider soup as a presentation rather than a process. The idea here is to get some hot, tender vegetables and meat in a tasty broth and keep them there long enough for their flavors to go into the broth. Broth is hard to make so I just start with a box of broth (canned soup tastes like a can) and add stuff to it. The best one I’ve found is corn and lemongrass soup. It has a tangy Thai flavor and doesn’t need any more seasoning, tho a well-chopped garlic clove wouldn’t hurt it. I cook with as little oil as possible because oil gives me a stomach ache, so I microwave the veggies instead of sautéing them. You’ll find that leftover soup tastes better than freshly-made soup, so don’t be afraid to make lots of it.
- 2 – 3 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- 10 – 12 white or brown mushrooms. When you buy them make sure their gills haven’t opened, and they aren’t beat up or old-looking. Some dirt is okay, we’ll wash them.
- Corn and lemon grass (or some other creamy) soup. Other good ones are squash, or mushroom.
- Hard vegetables, such as a carrot, yam, small potato, half a parsnip, etc.
- Soft vegetables, such as a zucchini, summer squash, etc.
- 2-3 green onions (I can’t eat regular onions, but you could try them)
- Garlic clove? Peeled and finely chopped. Will make your hands smell and you can’t wash it off, a happy reminder of what good soup you made.
- Some frozen chopped spinach, say a cup
- Brown the chicken in a little oil for a few minutes on each side in a frying pan for which you have a lid. Salt and pepper it on each side. I cook a whole package and put half of it aside in the refrigerator for some other purpose; usually Pat disappears it.
- Also boil water.
- When the chicken has brown streaks, pour the water into the pan so the chicken is about half-covered and put the lid on it, poaching the chicken for 8 minutes.
- While this is going on, clean the mushrooms. Rinse and peel their tops, cut away any dirty parts you can’t get clean, and cut off the ends of their stems. Slice them 1/8 inch thick.
- Start warming the broth at a low temperature, about the 9 o’clock position on our stove. Don’t boil it.
- Put the spinach in the soup now so it will thaw. I pinch it out of a larger bag and put the rest back in the freezer.
- When the chicken is done, cut into the fattest piece and peek in to make sure there’s no pink. Dice it and put it in the soup.
- Fry the mushrooms in a little oil, until they’re about half their original size, turning them over now and then. Put them in the soup. If water comes out of them, that’s extra value; pour it into the soup to capture that flavor and let the mushrooms fry better. The mushrooms practically clean up the chicken leavings in the pan.
- Clean and dice or slice the hard vegetables. Parsnip is tangy so cut it real small and just use half of one. Don’t peel the carrots, the peel is good for you. Microwave them on a plate for 6 minutes or until they aren’t quite soft enough when you poke them with a fork.
- Clean and dice or slice the soft vegetables. Also the green onions. Add them to the plate and microwave it for another 2-3 minutes. Put them in the soup.
- Carefully increase the heat under the soup, stirring it regularly or if bubbles start to appear. By this time it may seem more like stew than soup. All the stuff in it will act like an insulator, so the bottom heats much faster than the top. You might taste a little to make sure it’s hot enough to serve. If it boils much the broth is likely to separate so don’t let it.
Serve with crusty artisan bread. You can warm it, and resuscitate old bread, by sprinkling a little water on it with your fingers and slipping it into a 350 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Also we like to have a fruit dessert, such as melon or apple slices (slice apples at the table so they don’t have time to get brown).