Sunday, September 28, 2008

i miss sf

not just the city, the entire bay area. i also even miss esco. it is just so darn flat here. nowhere for your eyes to rest, kind of like an unpainted room with no artwork. it kind of gives me a topographical headache.

i also miss my hubby, who is in louisville (kentucky) for a week of work-related training. he only left this morning, but it is just so quiet here without him around.

on the other hand, one of the [very, very few] nice things about him not being around is that i don't have to listen to the television all the time. brian always has it on espn, the giants game, the niner game, or some bad movie on the sci-fi channel. it gets a bit annoying and that high-pitched whine that the tv makes when it is on gives me a headache by the end of the day.

the only other nice thing about brian not being here is that i can eat all the soup i like. i adore soup and could eat it for every meal. pretty much any kind of soup too with the exception of anything seafood (as i do not eat anything seafood). brian however thinks soup is an appetizer, not a meal. hence whenever i make a pot of soup i also have to cook a "normal" dinner to go with it. very rarely do we both just eat soup as a meal. and if there is any soup i positively adore, it is chicken noodle soup. i love love love chicken noodle soup and i have perfected my chicken noodle soup recipe. it can be a bit labor-intensive though, which is why tonight i made minestrone instead, because i was feeling lazy. but it is well worth it.

of course chicken noodle soup is not hard. but here are a few things i do to make it (imho) special and uniquely mine:

1. most important: i make my own egg noodles. if you don't know how to do this, it's easy. this is the most labor-intensive part of the soup-making and i agree, it's a bit martha, but it's so worth it. store-bought noodles or pasta will work in a pinch, but they just don't have the same texture, and they end up getting all water-logged and soggy and fall apart in your mouth, while homemade egg noodles don't. to make them, just dump 4 c. flour onto a wooden cutting board and make a large well in the center so it kind of looks like a volcano crater. carefully crack three whole eggs into the middle. add a pinch of salt and a teeny drizzle of evoo. then using a fork, carefully beat the eggs while starting to incorporate the flour. after a while you have a nice dough. knead it for a couple minutes till it feels smooth and elastic, let it rest a little, then roll it out thin, like 1/8" if you can. if you have done it right and it is really nice and elastic, then the rolling out will be the hardest part. mine never wants to stay flattened and always springs back a little thicker than i would like. just be patient and keep rolling, and then cut it into strips with a knife. i make strips that are about 2" long and 1/2 wide. usually for soup this makes about a double batch, but pasta dough freezes really well. i have not yet figured out the proportions for my mixer or food processor so if anyone knows, please tell me, i would love to simplify the process.

2. i use leeks and shallots instead of onions. i think it gives a much subtler, more nuanced flavor and goes better with the chicken. imho chicken is a pretty delicately flavored meat and onions are too strong. i usually use four leeks cut into thin slices (sliced lengthwise and then crosswise) and about 2-3 shallots.

3. carrots and celery, of course. and garlic. there is no such thing as too much garlic, no matter what my sister may say. and i really like to chock it full of veggies, otherwise it is just broth and chicken chunks and noodles and where is the nutritional value (and taste) in that? i mean, come on, we're not making junk food here. sauté it all and then dump in the chicken cubes.

4. i use broth, not water. no sense in leaching the flavor out of the chicken and veggies. usually i make my own broth with bouillon cubes and not the canned stuff, because bouillon cubes are easier to store than mountains of cans and i use broth for everything. for my chicken soup i use half vegetable and half chicken bouillon, because i think it tastes more interesting than just chicken. also herb-ox bouillon has no msg. nice.

5. i like "french" herbs in my soup. i feel like they're a little more delicate. they also make me feel all fancy schmancy and gourmet, like i am making some elegant dish and not just comfort food. so i dump in tarragon, chervil, herbes de provence, a little parsley, some savory, a dash of marjoram, a dash of thyme. other stuff in the cupboard if i feel like i need it. sometimes some pepper but not usually. and you don't need to add any salt if you use broth or bouillon instead of water.

6. then you add the noodles. yes, it looks like way too many. yes, they all float to the surface at first. yes they cook pretty quickly but no they don't get soggy and overcooked. you only have to cook the soup for about a half an hour and then the chicken is cooked through (from the boiling water) and the noodles are done.

if you try tweaking your recipe my way, let me know how you like it.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I also adore soup. There are a few that I make that are "meal worthy" to Matt. Or you can always add a sandwich to make a "man meal".

I have never made my own Chicken noodle soup. I am impressed by this.