Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pioneer Woman: Italian Chicken Soup

PW: Italian Chicken Soup*

*Not Italian Wedding Soup. Clear your mind. Because if you are craving Italian wedding soup, you will not appreciate this quite as much.  Just sayin’.

PW Italian Chicken Soup

Verdict:  Yummy!  It makes a lot, but for a family with kids older than 3 and 5, not an overwhelming amount.  And the leftovers are even better.

Cook it Again:  Yes, but for our family, we’ll halve it.

Cost Factor:  $10ish?  Maybe closer to $15, depending on the price of chicken and tomatoes.

This was another recipe I couldn’t post about when I was having the photo issue.  Since I knew that was going on, I also neglected to take many photos.  I apologize.

The ONLY thing I can say bad about it is that I had it in my head that it would resemble an Italian wedding soup, and it didn’t – and that threw me at first.  Truth is, I still can’t tell WHY mine doesn’t look like the photos, but based on the ingredients it never would have tasted like IWS.  (Also, I have no idea, other than the use of ditalini and tomatoes, what makes this particularly Italian, per se.)

So … boil up some chicken.  The recipe calls for a whole fryer chicken cut up.  I went to our (dwindling, sadly!) freezer stash of bone-in split chicken breasts and boiled them instead … it was easier for me than pulling chicken from thighs, drumsticks, and so forth.

The one moderately negative thing about this recipe is that it is pot-heavy.  I use heavy pots, so for me it was heavy-pot-heavy.  Hah!  (No, really.  Not very funny.  Very labor intensive. Which was nice, because while I was cooking and cleaning, I was working out.  Smaht, huh?!)  Seriously, if that’s the worst of it, you know it was a nice meal.  But I really did think about taking a snapshot of my stove while the soup was cooking, because it was so ... impressive (as long as you didn't know it was all one giant effort for soup)!

In any event, while the chicken is boiling you need to cook up some ditalini.  I left mine al dente, knowing it would simmer again in the soup.  PW mentions in her blog that she doesn’t like to let the macaroni cook entirely in the soup, because she fears it makes it overly starchy. For my money, I’m not sure it mattered, but it was certainly fine to do it this way.

You also need to chop and cook one onion, two bell peppers, two jalapenos, and two celery stalks. They get saut├ęd in olive oil. And in addition to that, you need to separately quickly wilt some oregano in oil.  Fresh or dry doesn’t matter, but that's another pan there, kids.

Once you have the chicken ready, PW says to use 8 cups of low-sodium broth; I just took 8 cups of the broth I had just created by boiling the chicken.  Then I added the chicken back in, the veggies, and chopped tomatoes from a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes.  (You have to chop them but preserve their juice.)

I'm not getting into too many details here because I didn't take as many photos as I should have... but the short version is that you cook this, add two cups of heavy cream, and there’s your soup.  

Here’s where I don’t understand what happened.  I did not make any alterations to the recipe, but my soup was substantially more tomato-y than the photos in the cookbook AND the photos of other cooking members.

My soup.  Actually here it looks even creamier than it really was.

PW's soup.  I stole this from:  Point is, hers looks broth-ier.  But maybe it's the blue bowl??

So, let’s get to the point.  In the end, this is a chicken-noodle soup that adds tomatoes and cream.  It’s a nice hybrid – not a tomato cream soup, but a soup with tomatoes and cream.  I also appreciated it because it really got to the heart of what the cooking club was about, at least for me -- I learned something.  It never would have occurred to me to put cream in a broth-based soup. I know that sounds ridiculous -- I've made my share of chowders, after all -- but it's true.  This was a nice way to stumble upon the very pleasant result when you do mix the two. 

I’d recommend it, both for cooking and for eating.  It’s hearty, but not a minestrone; it’s flavorful, but there’s still room for calling out one or two flavors over the others – kick up the jalapeno, kick up the salt/pepper, kick up the broth with some bouillon … whatever you like.  It’s easy to cook, and there are ways to make it even easier.  I came home from work and started prepping and cooking around 3, and we ate at 5:30.  Now, this kind-of is a long time -- but that took into account all of the prep and all the cooking, and I didn’t think it was unreasonable for a soup.  The nice thing is that if you want to make this but don't want to spend that much time on a weeknight, there’s a lot of advanced prep work you can do to make this the kind of recipe where you dump everything in a stock pot and let it simmer for 45 minutes while you're doing other stuff.

I’ll make this again.  It’s not the best soup I ever made or had, but it’s tasty and worth making, and I think now I have a few ideas on how I'll tweak the recipe for whatever audience I might have. 

1 comment:

  1. I have also made this soup in the past and was thinking of making it again so thanks for reminding me how much time it took!