Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Soup - Fast Food in a Bowl

Roasting a chicken ought to be simple and delicious. You can go any number of directions yet you still end up with a great dinner and then some.

It is the "then some" I want to focus on a bit today.

According to some sources, soups using peas, beans and lentils was the original fast/street food sold by Greeks as early as 600 BC. Before there was soup, there was broth (or stock), and placing a piece of bread in a bowl of broth to "sop" it up is where the name for soup comes from.Back to our roasted chicken. One of the things I like best about roasting a whole chicken is making stock from the carcass and then, making soup from that stock.

I should say here that making stock from a carcass is nothing to brag about. The process is just about foolproof. If you don't have a carcass on hand, making stock is still easy-peasy (here is one technique I like).

Taking that one step further, making soup from your stock is essentially non-screw-up-able. Trust me, I've goofed in every imaginable way with soup experiments but short of using an ingredient that nobody likes the taste or texture of, there is just about no real way to totally screw up soup unless you just boil it all out of the pan (don't ask).

Here in Austin we are lucky to have Farmers Markets but I really enjoy shopping at the Wheatsville Food Co-op where they reliably have all sorts of proteins and vegetables season in and season out, and the sourcing work is all done for you. You can buy a whole bird, locally and organically raised, pasture fed (read:more delicious), plus all the vegetables you'll ever need to make your own stock and others to put into your finished soup.

Case in point - I had stock in my refrigerator made from a whole chicken I roasted recently so two days ago when the temperatures were dipping close to the freezing mark, I made a noodle chicken soup. I threw in organic carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and trumpet mushrooms, all from Wheatsville. I also used home grown thyme and some sugar peas from our garden. I call it noodle chicken soup instead of the other way around because right at the end I packed it with the No Yolk egg noodles that we like so much.

Soup always tastes better after it sits a day. But, whether you make it and eat it right away or cook ahead for a day you know will be hectic, do make some soup this month. Once you learn for yourself or perhaps are reminded of how simple and how delicious a hot bowl of homemade soup tastes, soup will rightfully become a regular in your cold weather line up.

Here are some of my favorite "I always read these" blogger recipes to get your imagination going. I either intend to make or have already enjoyed every one of these and I assure you - there's not a clinker in the bunch:
Andrea's Carrot Ginger Soup
Homesick Texan's Good Fortune Soup
Bitchincamero's Black Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Feelgood Eats Vermont Cheddar Ale Soup
Smitten Kitten's Veselka's Cabbage Soup
Amateur Gourmet's Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls
Gastronome's Spicy Butternut Soup with Crispy Pork

No matter how you like your soup, with or without a sop in the bowl, January is Soup Month, and if you've never tried to make your own from scratch now's the time to give it a try. My favorite homemade soup is usually the one in the bowl in front of me, but I guess it was a Cream of Butternut Squash with Italian Sausage Soup that sold me on making soup at home.

How about you? What's your favorite kind of soup? Stick a spoon into the comments section and let us know what you like and if you make it for yourself or get it at a restaurant.


PassivePastry said...

any idea how long chicken stock lasts when frozen? (can you freeze it? errr?)

i am planning on making soup tomorrow or monday (no school!!!)
eeeee, i'll no doubt post about it.

TexasDeb said...

Actually lots of folks insist you should always freeze stock rather than keeping it in the refrigerator more than 2-3 days.

As far as I can tell, stock ought to keep for months in the freezer.

A good idea is to measure it out into 2 or 4 cup amounts and then freeze it in heavy plastic resealable bags or those less expensive reusable plastic containers. That way you know how much you're dealing with when it is time to defrost for a recipe. Just don't defrost the broth in the plastic in the microwave - you don't want poisony plasticky stuff leaching out into your delicious stock.

Yay for you for making soup! I'll look forward to reading about how wonderful it tastes.

sue bette said...

Totally agree with you Texas Deb, January is soup month! I'd love to hear your thoughts on chili - up here in new england we throw all sorts of stuff into it, but from what I've read a real bowl of texas chili is meat only and everything else is blasphemy - is that true??

TexasDeb said...

Sue Bette: Yup you pretty much have your facts straight about that. Here is more information in case you want to put together a more definitive post for your larger readership:

History of Chili site
DEFINITION - Chili is a stew-like soup made entirely with meat, chiles, or chili powder (or both) and according to what region of the United States that you live in, it can also include beans. "Con carne" means "with meat."

The site is a fairly exhaustive source for the stories/history of chili as dish, chili powder, great quotes, etc. "The aroma of good chili should generate rapture akin to a lover's kiss."
Motto of the Chili Appreciation Society International

Tolbert's Original Bowl of Red

This recipe comes out of a cookbook that was published the year I was born (a long long time ago) authored by Frank Tolbert who owned a chain of chili parlors in Texas and started the Terlingua, Texas chili cook off competition.

I blogged a bit about chili origins and Texans way back when.

Hope that helps!/TD

sue bette said...

Thanks Texas Deb! Those sites are perfect!!

Andrea said...

Well thank you ma'am! We freeze chicken stock in 16 and 32 ounce containers. I'm sure they'll keep for several months, though we go through them much faster than that. Love soup this time of year.