Friday, February 1, 2013

Chicken and Cabbage Soup

The best thing about cooking soups is that they allow you to experiment with the old school kind of cooking where you just throw things in and hope for the best.  That's the way my Granny cooked.  Though she could do that with pretty much any recipe and it worked.  And she had a "handful" measurement system that seemed to be the norm in old school cooking.  I'm not so sure I trust that my "handful" is the same as someone else's so I prefer actual measurements when it counts.  Soups though?  I'm all about throwing things in and hoping for the best!

This Chicken and Cabbage Soup is inspired by a recipe for Elzekaria soup I found once years back.  I can no longer find the recipe I used, but it was so basic that it was easily committed to memory:

*  soften onions in goose fat at the bottom of a stock pot
*  add minced garlic
*  add whole cored and cubed cabbage
*  stir to coat cabbage with fat
*  add canned or re-hydrated white beans
*  cover cabbage with water and boil
*  simmer until beans are cooked through

I never used goose fat.  If I was feeling vegetarian, I'd use veggie shortening or EVOO.  If I wanted animal fat in the mix, I'd use shortening or I'd cook some bacon in the pot before I put in the onions.  If the bottom of the stock pot got crusty with carmelized onion and bacon, I'd deglaze with a tiny bit of ACV.  Sometimes I'd throw some ACV in there anyways just because I was feeling a little like having a hit of sauerkraut flavor in the soup.  The recipe lended itself easily to alterations like that.

Because it was such a good base soup, it also had plenty of room for major alterations.  And that is where I came up with this experiment.

Chicken and Cabbage Soup

*  2 Tbs EVOO
*  1 small onion, frenched
*  1 package of sliced baby bella mushrooms
*  1 large carrot
*  2 cloves garlic
*  1 Tbs ACV
*  1 Tbs poultry seasoning
*  roughly 1 qt chicken stock (pure stock, no veggies added in)
*  roughly 3 cups shredded chicken
*  water

Heat EVOO in stockpot and add all veggies except garlic.  

Saute until onions and mushrooms begin to carmelize

Deglaze pot with ACV

Add chicken stock

Add water, but not so much that the cabbage won't fit when it is time to add it.

Add white beans

Add poultry seasoning

Bring to a boil and then simmer until beans are aldente.  Then add cabbage  If you used canned beans, you can add the cabbage immediately.

Add more water, or more chicken stock here.  Do what you think tastes best.  The lighter your chicken stock, the less added water you'll likely want.  Bring back to a boil and simmer until beans are completely cooked through.  If you used canned beans, cook until cabbage is cooked.

Also add shredded chicken.  Since the chicken will have already been cooked and you used chicken stock in the base, this will just be to reheat the meat.

Simmer as long as you want.  The longer you simmer all of this together, the better the flavors will be.  Better yet, cook it all to just done, cool it down and set it in the refrigerator overnight.  By the next day the soup will be Perfect!!!

This is what I mean by "how dark your chicken stock is."  This is the rest of my stock from boiling a chicken.  

When you boil a chicken for stock, you put just enough water in the pot to cover the chicken and boil until the meat falls off the bone.  This time I had a small chicken and I put a little more water than I should have in the pot.  Thus, I got a nearly clear broth.  I usually prefer my stock a tad stronger, but this is ok.  It's just not concentrated at all.  

As you can see, the soup base above is much darker than the broth I used.  That would mostly be due to the mushrooms in the stock, but the carrots had something to do with it too.  This is why I preferred to use stock without all the veggies added in for my soup base.  I was adding the veggies in after the fact.

Just look at that beautiful chicken pulled off the bone. 

 I mentioned that this chicken was a little small.  That is because I opted to use an organic, free range, locally sourced chicken.  My area has recently been blessed with a Green Grocer store.  It's a small neighborhood grocery that sources local meats and dairy and produce.  So, like a farmer's market, but they're putting the product on their shelves instead of the farmer having to be present.  Also, it's open 7 days a week at hours that pretty much anyone can find a minute to pop in.  That's my problem with farmers markets.  I'm extremely busy on the weekends and my work hours are the exact same as the one farmer's market I know of that is open on week days.  It is too far of a drive to visit on a lunch hour.  I want to eat local.  I'm DYING to eat local!  But my schedule makes it very hard.  This grocery solves that problem.  I am Ecstatic!