Food solves all problems. Why do you think there are 17,973,029,001 food blogs?

My motto: life happens, then you eat, then you die.

So whenever a hardship – rain or cold or colds or cold-sores or cold shoulders – comes our way, only one remedy soothes from the inside out. The gold standard in my kitchen is simple requiring few ingredients – stock, chicken, carrots, celery & onions and whipped up in about the time it takes to blow a nose. But then I caught wind of Thomas Keller’s chicken and dumpling soup in the Ad Hoc at Homecookbook. Through a wee bit more effort ’cause, just a wee bit more, a sublime, healthy and filling soup emerged. Everyone around your dining table will eat it up and really, it’s gourmet food disguised as comfort food.

Thomas Keller and I part ways at the corner of dumplings and cellulite and that makes for a much faster route to happiness. But, I’ve given you the full recipe below in case you want to go the full monty. And, I’ve given you my quick and easy version.

The 2 keysto Keller’s soup are:

  • infusing your stock (mine is store-bought) with vegetables that you will remove
  • giving your carrots and celery a little extra love – I will never make these any other way

 

elegant celery & carrots

 

You peel and cut carrots into proud size chunks and then simmer with honey and thyme. Shut up! these are not your grandma’s mushy pot roast vegetable. You could eat these on their own. And then you peel, yes, peel the celery, slice on a diagonal and cook in a pot of salted water. Tip: to bring out the green in your vegetables, simmer them in salted water – brilliant emerald color that feeds your eyes with desire.

 

under the hood

 

Now for the stock infusion…you start with a saute of chopped carrots, celery (and leeks or another kind of onion) – these are your worker vegetables and will not be a part of your soup. I know, it’s a tad wasteful, but we’re trying to extract flavors so that each spoonful is chock full of ridiculous savory taste.

What’s that little cover you say? Keller wants us to make a parchment lid. It’s easy look at this video:

 

 

The other somewhat unconventional step is to create roux which is nothing more than melted butter and flour that’s used as a thickening agent for the stock.

 

roux mcclanahan

 

One other note on the chicken: If you don’t have leftover chicken, I have slow simmer the chicken in salted water with a lemon wedge (optional) some herbs and pepper (whatever you have on hand). On low (no boil or ripple in the water), cook for at least 30 minutes, until it falls apart.

You piece together the soup at the end. I store my leftovers that way too – in separate containers until serving. This soup is so worth the effort.

 

flashdance

 

[recipe]

rainy day chicken soup

preptime 30 minutes (some during cooktime)

cooktime 60 minutes not all active

6-10 servings (about 8 cups)

1 T unsalted butter

1 c thinly sliced carrots

1 c coarsely chopped celery

1 c coarsely chopped onion

1 c coarsely chopped leeks

Kosher salt

4 quarts chicken stock

5 stalks celery

3 large carrots

1 teaspoon honey

1 bay leaf

2 thyme sprigs

1 large garlic clove, crushed, skin left on

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c roux: 8T unsalted butter and 1/2 c + 3 T all purpose flour

2 c cooked shredded chicken

1/4 c minced chives

1 T champagne vinegar

Flat-leaf parsley leaves

  1. Melt the butter in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the first set of carrots, celery, onions, and leeks, season with salt, and cover with a parchment lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
  2. While vegetables are simmering, peel the celery stalks with a peeler. Cut each stalk crosswise on the diagonal into thin slices about 1 1/2 inches long. Cook the celery in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, cool in an ice bath, and drain again.
  3. Add the chicken stock to the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, then strain the soup base into another pot and discard the vegetables.
  4. While the stock simmers, cut the carrots lengthwise into quarters and then crosswise into bite-sized pieces. Put the carrots in a saucepan, add the honey, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to paper towels.
  5. Make the roux: Melt 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, whisk in 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Whisking constantly and adjusting the heat as necessary so the roux bubbles but does not brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Note from Keller: For the smoothest sauces, add room-temperature or cold roux to a simmering liquid, or add cold liquid to a hot roux, to prevent the roux from seizing up.
  6. Bring the soup base to a simmer and whisk in the roux a little at a time until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; you may not use all the roux. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming often. this is necessary to remove all impurities from the roux. (The soup will continue to thicken as it simmers.)
  7. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, and chives to the soup and heat through. Season with the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley leaves.

crunchtimewarp: faster version

  • Saute 1/2 c chopped carrots, 1/2 c chopped celery and 1 c chopped onion in 1 T olive oil until soft, but not mushy. Season with salt & pepper as it cooks.
  • If you don’t have cooked chicken on hand, roast in 350ºoven for 30-35 minutes or until tender.
  • Add 2 32-oz cartons of chicken stock & one bay leaf to vegetables. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add in cubed or shredded chicken and serve.
  • If you prefer noodles, cook in salted water according to package directions and then add with chicken to the stock OR you can add the uncooked noodles as soon as the stock heats to a boil then on a mild bubbling cook the noodles until softish.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.

recipes adapted from Thomas Keller and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

1 Comment

  1. Care's Kitchen says Oct 27th 2011 6:06 am

    This post/soup is a thing of true beauty! As I sit here looking out my window.. it’s a dark and gloomy day – PERFECT for a soup like this! I will have to try the carrots & celery simmered in honey and thyme too, sounds amazing! (Love that spoon too!) 🙂

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