MADE WITH LOVE
Snow storm Juno didn’t make such a grand entrance this week. Unlucky for me, a terrible sinus infection made its way instead. These typically catch a hold of me once a year, right around my birthday, and man are they are brutal! But enough of that icky talk, now onto what I actually did about it!
First and foremost, I got to working on some homemade chicken soup, so simple, yet so delicious. There are two things I never order out at restaurants, mainly because of how good my moms (or families) version of them are:
#1 – meatballs (except for Steve Martorano’s of course!)
#2 – homemade chicken soup (or pasta fagiole)
To explain the meatballs, I think it’s just an Italian thing. It’s something so close to family that it would almost feel like a sin ordering someone else’s (I don’t know, maybe that’s just me). Meatballs signify a distinct memory of my mother, my grandmother, the kitchen I grew up in and the many Sundays we spent making them. Also, anytime I did order them, I was less than enthused, so I just made that an overall life rule – no meatballs out of the home/family. Like I said above, Steve Martorano’s are the only exception to this rule (we’ll get into this some more in a future meatball special post, stay tuned!!!)
Now to explain the soups, yes I’m sure I can find great soup all over the place, but it’s the heart and soul that goes into them that I can’t buy. I’ve only really lived on these recipes for days or a week at a time when I was extremely ill, at home, and being taken care of – so there’s a major sense of comfort, love and soul in there that you just cannot find on a diner menu, even at New Jersey’s finest (sorry!).
ingredients: (I typically buy all organic, or at least try to, suggest you do the same for optimum taste & health!)
+ 3 celery stalks, chopped
+ 3 carrots, peeled & chopped
+ 2 yellow onions, chopped
+ 3 cloves of garlic
+ 1 organic cornish hen/baby chicken
+ generous salt
+ generous pepper
+ bunch of fresh thyme
+ 3 bay leaves
+ 1 box of organic chicken broth
+ 1 box of your preferred pasta (I use pastina or mini elbows)
+ extra virgin olive oil
+ freshly grated parm. reggiano
+ most important ingredient of all, lots of L-O-V-E!
In a large pot, simmer two tablespoons (about, I just splash some in) of olive oil, add in the onions, celery, carrots & garlic to cook down the veggies. Season with salt & pepper generously, add in half of the fresh thyme (to taste), cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Generously season the whole (baby) chicken with salt, pepper, remaining thyme and place in the pot to brown, cook for about 7-10 minutes (each side). Add in the bay leaves and place some inside the chicken (oh yea – make sure you removed the bag of ‘goodies’ inside the baby chicken, although the organic ones I buy already have them removed) – you can add these organs in the soup to cook if you like, some people prefer it, I personally toss it because although I am not a vegetarian, I can’t bring myself to eat a little heart, literally. Back to the cooking, once you’ve browned the chicken to your liking, add the liquids: chicken broth & water, bring to a boil and let it cook! I usually leave it at a light boil for about an hour, then bring it to a simmer for as long as you can wait to eat it; the longer it cooks the more flavor it gets! Throughout that time you can pull apart pieces of the chicken with a wooden spoon as it cooks and starts to fall off the bone. While the soup is cooking, fill a small pot with water and one or two ladlefuls of the soup and bring to a boil, season with salt and throw in your pasta. When you’re ready to eat add the pasta to the soup. When storing leftovers in the fridge I usually keep the pasta separate from the whole soup as it tends to absorb the soup and you’re left with mushy pasta and no liquid (blah). The only downside to this recipe is fishing out the little baby chicken bones, but it’s worth it, cooking with the bones makes the soup much more flavorful!
When you’re ready to serve, just sprinkle some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano on top (my fave part!) and buon appetito!
If you’re lucky you’ll find the wishbone and get to make a wish with whomever you are sharing this delicious meal with. Mike and I each grabbed a hold of an end of the wishbone, closed our eyes and made a wish – I won (of course)! If you live under a rock or never heard of this, here’s how it goes – two people each hold an end of the wishbone, make a wish and then they pull it apart, whoever is left with the main joint part of the bone is who’s wish shall come true. This is something we always did as kids in my family, my sisters, brother and I would all fight over who got to pull apart the wishbone at Thanksgiving dinner. Man, wishing I was a kid again, especially when I’m feeling this sick!
Between living on my homemade chicken soup, yogi tea, 875mg of amoxicillin, mucinex, ibuprofen, the usual daily dose of vitamins & green juice, emergen-C & yellow gatorade – I should be back to myself in no time (God willing!).
I hope you try this out next time you’re sick or just in the mood for some good homemade chicken soup! But remember, it’s what you put into it that counts; the more LOVE the better!
Mine tends to get better each time I make it, I guess I’m learning to love myself more and more these days!