For the sake of argument, we’re going to pretend like it’s winter here in Media. Anyone who lives in or has visited Pennsylvania or New Jersey this winter knows that we haven’t had anything remotely close to winter weather in a while. There was a freak snow shower on Halloween, but was the worst of our snow. The projected high for the rest of the week is in the 50s and 60s. I’m a summer baby, so I am not complaining, but I can’t help but think this doesn’t bode well for the Spring and Summer months. Pesky global warming.
Anyway, I haven’t been feeling well lately and so I wanted some chicken soup. I didn’t feel like driving home to Jersey to get some from my mom, so I tried it out on my own. I made this last week with frozen veggies (that’s all I had, don’t judge me) and it turned out so well, I decided to make it again with some fresh, organic veggies from Trader Joe’s. As with most soups, you start with a Mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions). Trader Joe’s sells a shortcut to this step for $2.99, but I was being cheap and opted for the $.89 cents bag of organic carrots and the celery hearts for $1.79. (I know, it’s about the same.) Admittedly, I was feeling a little silly when I was standing in my kitchen shaving carrots and chopping celery at 8:30 last night, but it was worth it.
I got the chicken out of a family pack from Whole Foods and I got the fatty bacon pieces from Trader Joe’s. They sell something called Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon Ends and Pieces and it is perfect for such a thing. (Confession: for last week’s soup, I baked chicken pieces wrapped in said bacon. I’ll recreate that magic and post it another time.)
Shout Out to Drea for the term “Deconstructed Chicken Soup.” Deconstructing this dish makes the soup itself gluten-free. Used gluten-free pasta to make the constructed dish gluten-free.
3 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
2 tablespoons EVOO
3-4 fatty bacon pieces
1 32-oz container TJ’s organic chicken broth
6 organic carrots, washed and peeled then diced
6 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup your choice of pasta
2. Remove browned chicken and set aside.
3. Add fatty bacon pieces. They will sizzle and smoke. You’re trying to get the fat to render off and become a sort of (greasy) sauce. Be careful not to burn the bacon pieces. I did and that’s why there are black speckles in the finished product. We’ll just pretend it’s a lot of pepper. Wait. No, we won’t. I don’t like pepper.
4. When your bacon is looking dark red and the fat is translucent (5 minutes), add the onions, celery, and carrots. Mix to get the bacon pieces off the bottom of the pan and cook until the onions are translucent and the celery and carrots are a bit soft. (6 minutes) Add a bit of sea salt at this point. Not too much, remember the bacon is salty and you’ve already salted the chicken. Stand over this and stir it often. Don’t leave it to its own devices. I’m telling you, that bacon will burn!
5. Add organic chicken broth. Add the chicken back to the pan and submerge it in the liquid. If you burnt the bacon, you’ll want to take this time to scoop off the black bits from the top. (When all was said and done, I skimmed of 1/2 cup of burnt bits and liquid.) I don’t recommend adding water to replace the liquid you lost.
6. Bring to a boil. Allow it to boil for a few minutes and then turn it down to a simmer. Cook it long and low for about 45 minutes. When it’s done, the chicken should be falling off the bone.
7. At about minute 30, boil your pasta according to the instructions on the package. Toss it in a collander and run cold water over it to stop the cooking. Set aside and wait for chicken soup to finish cooking.
8. When you have reached the 45th minute, now it’s time to take your kitchen tongs and coax the rest of the chicken off the bone. I find a stabbing and twisting motion works. (Like an alligator or a snake and the twist of death, but with kitchen tongs.)
9. To serve, place pasta in a bowl and dish over the soup.
5. Add chicken broth and enjoy.