Friday, January 13, 2012

Get Well Chicken Soup

The weather is beautiful here in Southern California.  But we still have the cold & flu season to battle even in the sunshiny weather. When I heard a friend had been down with pneumonia since before Christmas, I felt compelled to make some soup to share. Once I started I couldn't stop and I've made three batches this week, handing it out to the not so well as they each raised their hands as willing acceptors of the healing liquid.  A longtime friend requested the recipe so she could share with her family and friends & here it is, my Get Well Chicken Soup.

Get Well Chicken Soup
(Feeds 6-10 depending on sickness) 
Get Well Broth Ingredients
1 whole chicken
1 onion
2 carrots
2 celery ribs
4 garlic cloves
4 slices of ginger
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 sprig of flat leaf parsley
10 peppercorns

Soup Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
Salt to taste
8 oz wide egg noodles

Special Equipment

Cheese cloth for straining


Rinse the chicken in cold water and place it in a big soup pot. Trim the onion, carrots and celery & cut into large chunks. Put them in the pot with the chicken.  Add the other broth ingredients to the pot (ginger, garlic, bay, thyme, parsley & peppercorns). Fill the pot within 1" of the top with water and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat and keep at a very low simmer for 2 hours.  Remove the chicken from the broth and let it cool.  Turn off the heat on the broth. Remove the meat from the chicken and pull apart into bite sized pieces.

In another large pot, heat 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil over medium heat. Saute the diced onion, carrot and celery until they begin to soften. Turn the heat to low.

Drape cheesecloth over a strainer and place over the onion, carrots & celery.  Ladle the broth into the strainer and keep adding broth until you have 3" of liquid over your vegetables. Remove the strainer. Add the chicken meat and stir gently. Bring to a boil.  Simmer until vegetables are tender. Add salt to taste.

Add noodles in last 10 minutes of cooking - OR cook noodles separately and serve the soup poured over the noodles. 

Add more strained broth as necessary and to your taste.

Don't waste any extra broth. Strain and reserve for other use or drink it!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

BLOT Sauce for Cheese Ravioli: Oscar Inspiration

Years ago I catered an Oscar party and one of the dishes I served was a Tomato, Escarole & Bacon pasta. I used lovely cherry tomatoes, cut in half and tossed into a hot pan where the bacon was crisping, some shallot and garlic were added creating an intoxicating aroma to entice the party guests. Fresh herbs as well a head of torn escarole, some white wine & chicken stock were added as well. It was finished off with luscious al dente cooked pasta which was all gently tossed together as the greens wilted and the flavors melded before it was quickly devoured by the hungry movie buffs.

Inspired by that dish and a large box of Pomi diced tomatoes in my pantry, I set out to create a more simple version which could be whipped up in 20 minutes. So I stripped the recipe in my memory down to the BLT ingredients, but added the O(lives) for texture and punch.

It's may not be Oscar worthy, but certainly does make a quick delicious dinner for the family.


Bacon, escaroLe, Olive & Tomato - BLOT Sauce
for Cheese Ravioli or Tortellini
(Serves 4, more or less)

6 oz. diced bacon
2 lb. can or box of Pomi diced tomatoes
1/3 Cup Kalmata olives
salt, pepper
dried Italian herb mix or Oregano to taste
1 head of Escarole
1 lb of cheese ravioli or tortellini

Fill a large pot with water and put it on to boil.* Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and continue to occasionally stir the bacon as it cooks for about 8 minutes until very crispy.
Meanwhile, thoroughly wash the head of escarole.  Cut out the core and trim off the coarse white ends. Tear or cut the leaves into 2" pieces. Set aside.
Pit and coarsely chop the olives. Set aside.
When the bacon is crispy remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Pour out 1/2 of the bacon drippings in the pan (if you are a whimp, I left them all in there.).
Return pan to the heat and pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a slow simmer.
Add a little salt and pepper and a teaspoon or so of a favorite dried spice mix (I used a Greek blend because I really love Greek oregano, but use whatever is on hand.) to taste.
Add the escarole and olives. Stir to combine thoroughly.  Partially cover.
Cook the ravioli pasta al dente, don't over cook. Before you drain the pasta, add 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water to the tomato escarole sauce.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir gently to thoroughly coat the ravioli.
Don't forget to add back the bacon into the pan.**
Serve to hungry family.

*A very smart friend has passed on the advice of a wise chef & that is to always first put a pot of water on to boil, you will need it for something, surely.
**Honestly, I was taking the picture I shared on my blog of this dish & saw the bowl of bacon I had completely forgotten to put back into the dish.  Ha, mediocre dish avoided!