Sunday, May 07, 2006

Soup and Sandwich

Another quiet weekend on the home front. It has been a good weekend to grill, though in all honesty I can’t think of a bad time to grill. Grilled up some Polish Sausage for dinner last night, tonight it will be souvlaki

FoodCrazee has gotten me into a bad habit – taking pictures of all my food. I think it is driving my wife crazy, although that drive us rather short. I consider that a bonus. Lucky you! You get to see all these fine photos (FoodCrazee has me beat, his pictures make my mouth water – sorry Jintastique, no room for cake today!!) just as the friends who invite you over and bore the living daylights out of you with their vacation slide show - one more picture of Timmy pretending to hold up a leaning monument and I am going to scream. So I get to annoy you and my wife in one fell swoop.

Nothing goes together like soup and sandwich was an old Campbell’s soup slogan designed to get you to eat their canned sludge. No chickens were harmed in the making of this soup. My mother always said they just tossed a chicken back and forth over the pot and whatever fell in was your lot. You’ll find that in Pork and Beans too – the pork is some sort of glob of adipose tissue that may have once hung off a pig. Maybe. Homemade soup is the only way to go because you control what does (and doesn’t) go in to the mix. Soup and Fried Rice are excellent ways to make use of leftover veggies and last nights’ dinner. I suspect that is the origin of the Soup De Jour in most restaurants – the soup of the day was dependent upon what was left over from food prep the evening before.

Chicken Soup

2 qts of chicken stock (I use the stuff in cartons because it is easy to keep)
1 medium carrot sliced into coins
2 Stalks of celery including leaves
½ onion diced
¼ cup Green pepper
¼ cup wild rice
2Tsp Olive Oil
1 can water chestnuts
Leftover meat from Rotisserie Chicken (I was lazy one night and bought a pre-cooked market chicken)
1 tsp of cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbs of water

That’s the basic recipe for the soup in the picture. I could have made my own stock, but the stuff in the cartons is so convenient. You can keep it in the cupboard until you use the stock. If you don’t use all of it, you can snap the top on the carton closed and place it in the fridge. The carrots, green pepper, onion, and celery are for a mirepoix - coat the bottom of your pot with the olive oil, put the burner on low heat and drop the carrots, celery, peppers, and onion in to the oil. Add a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper and let the flavor sweat out of the veggies. When the onions turn translucent, drop in the wild rice, mushrooms and water chestnuts, let them fry a bit in the residual oil, then add the stock and shredded up chicken meat. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, add the cornstarch solution (gives the soup a good mouth feel) and bring the soup to a boil. Now is a good time to taste for seasoning, see if you have some left over oregano, basil to add, or if the soup needs a touch more salt and pepper. Voila!

You can add anything you want. Don’t like rice? Add barley, lentils, couscous, or pasta. Drop in the peas that junior refused to eat last night or that bit of frozen broccoli you aren’t sure what to do with. The possibilities are endless and will help prevent waste in the kitchen. Happy cooking!