From Jane Alonso. Her passion for food and spirits leads her on frequent excursions into Borderstan’s land of bars and restaurants. Email her at jane[AT]borderstan.com.
One of my New Year’s resolutions in 2013 is to eat more homemade meals and drink a bit (notice, I said “a bit!) less – and trust me, that is hard for someone like me who lives in the city and whose professional life involves lots of business meals at restaurants. Not to mention my obsession with scotch and speakeasies – sigh!
But since we are only a few weeks into January, it is too soon to give up on those resolutions quite yet…so I am spending some time reacquainting myself with my kitchen and remembering that, indeed, I DO love to cook. In that spirit, I thought I might share one of my easy go-to recipes: quick and easy chicken soup.
This is a recipe I “created” through trial and error, and like all recipes, it steals liberally from others that came before it. When I initially learned to make chicken soup, I followed my grandmother’s instructions to a tee – but found the process of cooking a stock from scratch to be too time consuming for everyday life (though I still make homemade stock sometimes on a cold weekend when I have time). You can concoct a pretty decent chicken soup by using a good quality box broth (I like Pacific brand) along with a mirepoix base (a mirepoix is combination of sautéed onions, carrots, and celery).
Another short cut – canned chicken. I know, I know… I hear you scowling as you read this. But dear reader, I tell you that a good quality canned chicken (I like to use Valley Fresh 100% natural chicken breast in water) is just fine to use in a chicken soup that you are making for an everyday meal. It is easy to use, stores for months, and tastes good in a soup.
Finally — my secret flavor weapon – tarragon! Tarragon imparts a sweet herbal quality to the soup that will give it depth, leaving the impression that the stock was simmered for hours on your stove… when in fact, you threw the meal together in an hour.
This recipe has very little fat, lots of healthy veggies, fiber (if you use barley or certain types of rice) and the broth is proven to help you get over that nasty cold virus circulating in mid-winter.
Enjoy – I hope this recipe helps you ring in a healthier 2013!
Jane’s Quick and Easy Chicken Soup
- Saute diced onions, carrots, and celery in a large pot in oil (either canola or olive oil). There is no set guide for how much to use but try for a 3:2:1 ratio of onion, carrot, and celery – it doesn’t matter if you get the proportions wrong though – it’s soup and you can’t mess it up! I use roughly one large onion, one medium size carrot, and one stalk of celery.
- You can add salt if (you like) to the veggies as they cook.
- Sweat the veggies until onions are translucent and carrots and celery are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add a clove of diced garlic (can be from a jar or fresh) and sauté for another minute.
- Add a box of chicken broth (roughly four cups) and another 2-4 cups of water.
- Add chicken from a 10-12.5 ounce can (the 99% fat free white meat variety – such as Valley Fresh — works well).
- Add a cup of pearl barley (can substitute a half cup of rice or pasta or matzah balls).
- Add about a tablespoon of dried tarragon (can use fresh if you have it).
- Salt and pepper to taste. I prefer to use sea salt. Because it is a soup, you have to use a bit more salt than you would normally put on cooked food in order to get a good flavor.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-45 minutes tailored to the ingredients you use (longer if you use barley – less time if you use pasta).