Fall is the time when I make and freeze a lot of soup. There’s always a plethora of vegetables that I need to use up – sure we can, freeze, and ferment some too. But, soup is a quick and easy way to use lots of seasonable vegetables and have dinners ready throughout the winter.
The soup I’m discussing today is a Creamy Chicken and Celery because I had two giant bunches of celery that I didn’t want to go bad. But, the real fun of soup is there isn’t any precise requirements. Whatever you have extra of or whatever is on sale at the farmer’s market can be made into a soup. So today I’m going to review the basics and you use whatever you have available.
Soup Starts with Stock
The basis for all soup is a good stock. You can start with fish, chicken, beef, turkey, seafood, etc. Any protein will work. If possible use proteins with the bones. You will strain them out so don’t worry just throw in a whole chicken, or beef parts, or a whole fish – again, no right or wrong with soup. With the Creamy Chicken and Celery, I used frozen chicken parts (mostly thighs), with skin and bones, because that’s what I found in the back of the freezer. They were a little freezer burnt so soup was the perfect solution. Place in a large stock pot.
Next, add the parts of vegetables that you normally throw away or compost. Soup stock is a great place to add onion skins, onion tops, carrot tops, celery leaves, tops of leeks, etc. Of course if you have old bones from previous proteins, add them too. Especially during the summer when I don’t cook quite as much, Whenever we cut the tops of vegetables or skins, etc. we throw them in a bag in the freezer. Come autumn I use whatever is in the bag to start soup stocks. I like the flavor of onion so I usually quarter a yellow onion and toss in as well. Add 4-5 whole cloves, 6-8 peppercorns, and 1-2 bay leaves. Add enough water to cover and allow to simmer until the protein is cooked through, usually about 2 hours. Remember to stir your soup stock occasionally. For extra minerals, I like to add a bunch of parsley about ten minutes or so before I’m ready to start the next step.
Remove the vegetable mass and throw away. Remove the protein pieces and set aside to cool. Strain the liquid and return to stock pot. Keep simmering down until it’s about 3 quarts. This is usually where you’ll get the best flavor, but you can continue to reduce the soup stock to intensify the flavor. You can stop with just soup stock and save it for later or freeze it for future use. Or, as with this recipe, while the soup stock simmers down, start chopping vegetables for the final soup.
Soup Is What You Make It
Again, use whatever vegetables you have available. Today I found carrots, onions, shallots, garlic, ancho peppers, and of course the celery I wanted to use up. Mince all the vegetables. Allow to sit about 5 minutes.
Heat a couple tablespoons of grass fed pastured butter or coconut oil in a skillet. Add the minced vegetables cooking and stirring until fragrant and tender, about five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
The protein should be cool enough to touch by now. Chop up the protein. You can save bones for another round of soup stock, just throw them in the freezer.
Soup Today is Creamy Chicken and Celery
Now, you can stop here, throw it all together and you have a great chicken vegetable soup. Add some rice or pasta if you like. Or you can make a creamier soup, as I did. To do this place the chicken meat and vegetables into a food processor and pulse until they’re finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, mince the chicken and vegetables finely. Add back into simmering broth and remove from heat.
Eggs are optional when making a creamy soup. They are a good emulsifier to hold the soup together with less separation. But, you can skip the eggs and just stir the soup before serving. If you choose to use eggs, separate the yolk and white from three eggs. Save the whites to add to breakfast omelets. Beat the yolks until fluffy and light yellow. Temper the beaten eggs by stirring a spoonful of broth into the eggs. Repeat this 2-3 times and then pour the mixture of eggs and broth into the simmering soup.
Finally to make the ultimately in creamy soup, gently stir two cups of raw, heavy cream into the soup. If you can’t tolerate dairy, the best is coconut cream (not to be confused with cream of coconut). Although any milk alternative can be used the consistency will we thinner and less creamy.
Check for taste. I usually feel like adding white pepper, sea salt, Herbamare, sometimes a touch more garlic, onion, or celery powder. Habanero sauce can add a touch of heat. Whatever suits your taste buds. Finally, add some minced fresh herbs if desired (I added curly parsley) and serve.
Soup – Final Thoughts
The best part of soup is you can use whatever is available. You save leftovers from vegetables until you have time start a stock. If you’re in a real hurry you can use pre made stock (although it seldom has the same great taste, nutritional value, or satisfaction). You can keep adding spices and herbs until you get the flavor you desire. Remember to add fresh at the end of the cooking process and dried at the beginning. If you get too much salt, drop in a few chunks of potato to pull out the excess. Almost everything can be fixed when it comes to soup so it’s a great place to start “playing” in your kitchen. Portion and freeze the extra and there will be many winter nights you don’t have to cook.