Today I accomplished what I never would have thought possible just 5 years ago. I made chicken soup from scratch. Without a recipe. Am I good or what?
This was no ordinary chicken soup, mind you. Oh no.
This was about a week in the making.
Last week I made homemade chicken stock following the recipe in Nourished Traditions by Sally Fallon. The recipe was roughly this (I never follow a recipe exactly if I want it to turn out well):
1 whole chicken cooked in the crock pot all day- used pastured chicken from my friends farm
bones from a preciously cooked chicken-I had this frozen
filtered water to cover
some carrots, celery and onions
sea salt ( a little) -I used Redmond Real Salt
a pair of chicken feet - yes, you read that right. I used chicken feet. After I washed them of course...
Cooked this in the crock pot on low for almost 2 days.
Strained out all the stuff. Strained it again. Put it in the fridge to "gel."
Some recipes call for removing the hardened fat after it cool sin the fridge but I like fat. So it stayed. There really wasn't that much anyway.
Then today, I put another whole chicken in a big soup pot with enough water to cover half of the chicken. I added some more sea salt. I let it simmer for a few hours until the meat was falling apart. Then I strained out the chicken with a bowl under a colander. The broth went back in the pot. I pulled the meat off the chicken and added roughly half of it back in later.
First, I added a few ladle-fuls of the stock I made last week. Turned the heat back on and added a few cut up stalks of celery, 3 or 4 sliced carrots, and a chopped up sweet onion. I let this simmer until the onions were translucent and then I added the chicken back in.
Then I let this simmer for about an hour or so. About a half hour before I served it I added a bunch of sliced up napa cabbage and cooked it long enough for it to be completely wilted and soft enough for my babies to eat it. I didn't add anymore seasoning to any of this after the initial salt I added to the chicken this morning.
This turned out to be the most divine tasting soup I've ever made or had. Perfect flavor. Everything just tender enough. Just yummy!
As you can tell by now, I don't really follow recipes unless I am baking. I spent years watching cooking shows and reading cook books beforeI ever really started cooking anything. My attempts to cook in the distant past were disasters and I stopped cooking. Then one day I decided to make lamb. I had read about something called "de-glazing" although I had never made gravy or anything like it. But I had some mushrooms and some wine and I went to town. I couldn't believe my eyes (or taste buds) when I made "gravy" for my lamb chops and it was great! Since then, I have been cooking sans recipes because every time I follow a recipe, the food gets ruined and we end up with take out. Like the "roasted" chicken I made about 2 months ago. Followed the recipe to a "T." I wish I had a picture. Just think about the turkey on Christmas Vacation. Yeah. That bad. So I just cook my chickens in the crock pot or in a pot of water with some sea salt, and voila, I have the most tender, delicious chicken ever. I don't eat the skin so the lack of browned skin is no, uh, skin off my nose. Sorry. Didn't have a better analogy or whatever you call that. (It is after midnight, you know...)
I will say that baking is another story. There is a lot of chemistry involved in baking so I don't do much tweaking with those recipes, but I'm not a big baker anyway. I like to make choc-oat-chip cookies and that's about it. I've been trying to master bread making but most of my loaves taste really god but have the heft of a loaf of lead! I'll keep trying because there is just nothing like fresh warm bread and butter with a steaming bowl of chicken soup!
What's your best "recipe?"