A blog about cooking and food, and how to make it taste good and be healthy. The dishes are almost all gluten/dairy free, and many are vegetarian. The focus is on techniques and ingredients over recipes - this is about everyday cooking, and that means making it work with whats on hand!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Homestyle Chicken Soup

Vegetable broth isn't much of a meal by itself, so I used it to make some chicken soup!  I call this "homestyle" because I'll often make a hot and sour "Asian" soup, and this uses no spices or soy sauce and is neither spicy nor tangy.

You start out with the chicken.  Here I used chicken thighs, the kind with only one bone, skin on.  The skin gets removed later, but by cooking it you get some delicious chicken fat out of it.  Heat some oil in a big pot (I used a wok) and start browning the chicken.
For vegetables in this soup, I used red peppers, tomatoes, turnips, and leeks, and spinach, along with some garlic and black fungus.  The black fungus comes dried in a bag, and you have to soak it and then slice it.  Its kind of slimy/chewy, and probably has magic superfood powers.  You can use whatever you have.
I diced everything up, because I usually like things to be the same size/shape, for even cooking and to look consistent.  Once the chicken had been browned on both sides, I added all the garlic and turnips (they need to cook longer) and half the peppers, leeks, and tomatoes with some salt.  These add extra flavor to the broth; the ones that go in later retain more flavor in themselves.
Mix them up with the oil, then add the vegetable broth and simmer until the chicken is well cooked, about 30 minutes.  At this point, pull out the chicken and chop it up, removing the bones and skin, and put it back in.  At this point, I added the rest of the vegetables including chopped spinach and fungus, and some toasted buckwheat (kashi).  Buckwheat is a high-fiber, high-protein grain with a nutty taste, and helps make the soup filling. You could add rice or noodles or whatever you like.
Once the buckwheat was cooked, I tasted for salt (it needed more) and added some chopped cilantro.  The result was a thick, delicious, warming, filling soup that was easy to make.  This type of soup has a lot of room for leeway.  You could use an entirely different set of vegetables like carrots, celery, corn, onions and potatoes, and it would have came out tasting different, but still good.  The key is a good broth and the right amount of salt.

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