It’s the middle of winter. For much of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s cold. Britain is wet. New England is under seige with snow. California is…well. Be quiet California. Life is too easy for you guys.
But this is the joy of winter: to take the cold and dark that is outside, and allow yourself to be turned inside. To focus on food that warms you from within and nurtures your spirit while the weather rages outside.
And so, while it may not be earth shattering, we couldn’t help but feel here at Forq that the time was right for a chicken soup weekend. Wholesome, steaming hot, packed with veggies and nutrients – everything you need for a quiet weekend lunch accompanied, maybe, by a warm fire and something from your reading list…
Let food nurture and feed you! Make chicken soup this weekend. Soup is truly the easiest thing in the world to make: no cans needed, certainly nothing with the word condensed.
For those who don’t know the basic thickening technique, this is a great opportunity to learn the basics of a good roux. Understanding roux, which is really very simple, allows you to make anything from sauces to chillies to soup to casseroles, all using the same approach.
Roux is a simple process of combining a certain ratio of fat to flour before adding liquid, thereby allowing the liquid to be thickened. Whether you want a thicker final liquid (a true sauce), or a thin one (a barely thickened liquid for a soup), this is how you do it:
Sauté base ingredients. You can literally just warm oil (butter or canola or olive oil) and add a sprinkling of flour. Or you can heat up a few tablespoons of oil, sauté anything you like in it (onions, apples, carrots, etc). A sprinkling of flour, sauté for 15 seconds to 2 minutes (some books say as much as 10), and then add 2-4 cups of boiling liquid (stock, water, tinned tomatoes in their juice) — all depending on how you want the final product to be. For gravies, you might add equal parts fat to flour (2 tablespoons fat, 2 tablespoons flour). For thinner liquids that are barely thickened, just a light sprinkling of the flour — just enough so that the water will no longer be water but more of a jus. If you find your liquid is too thick, water it down considerably and note the ratio that got you there this time, and adjust how much flour you add next time. This *is* chemistry, but once you have a feel for it, you have tremendous control over how this thickened liquid functions in your final dish.
This soup recipe uses this basic roux technique. Strictly speaking, you don’t have to use it at all. But I find it very satisfying, that alchemy of adding fat to flour, sautéing it until all the flour disappears (the longer you sauté it, the nuttier the taste may be and the less the sauce may thicken – it’s a balancing act) to form a soul-satisfying liquid gravy.
As always, use a recipe as a foundation, and play with it to make it work for you.
We call this Woodland Chicken Soup simply because we’ve added a few elements one might encounter on a walk through the woods: apples & mushrooms. It’s a slightly different spin, but the overall taste when combined with lemon is the essence of what any roasted chicken soup should be.
Woodland Chicken Soup
1 T butter
2 T olive oil
200 grams diced onion
300 grams carrots, diced
2 cups mushrooms (raw) – sautéed separately
100 grams celery (4 sticks)
3 apples, diced
10 grams flour (for the roux – just a small amount)
2-3 cups chicken stock (pre-warmed)
3-4 cups water
400-600 grams roasted chicken
1-2 T white wine vinegar
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1-2 T basil
1-2 T thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1) Per above, sauté separately mushrooms in a small amount of oil. Drain & set aside.
2) Heat butter & olive oil in a pan. Add onions, carrots, celery and apples. Sauté over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.
3) Sprinkle a small (very small!) spoonful of flour over your mix. The more flour you use, the thicker your soup will be, so just a teaspoon or two will do it. (Tip: If you used equal parts flour to oil — in this case, you used 3 T oil, so if you used 3 T flour, you would have be setting up the mixture to have the thickness of a thick gravy. Half or less of the flour here will produce just a nice, light jus). Stir the flour all through your mixture – don’t let any flour remain uncombined – and continue cooking over medium heat for another minute or so.
4) Pour in your chicken stock (warmed in the microwave to piping hot). Evaluate the thickness of the liquid, and add another 3-4 cups boiling water.
5) As your soup now takes shape, add in the chicken, mushrooms, white wine vinegar. Taste, and add lemon juice depending on your preference.
6) Give this a half hour or so on simmer. Just before you serve, add the basil, thyme, salt & pepper to taste.
Serve with homemade bread and a selection of cheeses for the perfect Saturday lunch.
Enjoy winter this weekend! Let us know what you think of our Woodland Chicken Soup over in the app. If you take photos – we’d love to see them!