Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicken Mushroom Soup

It is cold again and I have a lingering cough, so I’m back in the kitchen making chicken soup. I need to complain, just for a moment, about boxed chicken broth. Most of it is tasteless. I know I should make my own. I should, but I don’t. Boxed broth is one of those time savers that means I actually end up with time to make soup. I’m certain that if I made homemade chicken broth the only thing we’d have to eat for dinner would be broth.

Chicken Mushroom Soup

(10-12 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 4 half chicken breasts with bones and skin
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups celery, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 leeks, well cleaned and chopped (white part only)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 32-oz boxes chicken broth (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 packets chicken flavor liquid concentrate OR 3 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 20 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms (I use 2 10-oz bags of sliced mushrooms from Trader Joe’s)

Heat grapeseed oil in large soup pot. Add chicken breasts and brown on medium/high heat, about three minutes per side. They should be golden. Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

This is what your browned chicken breasts should look like.

This is what your chopped veggies should look like before they go in the pot.

This is what your leaks should look like before they go in.

Turn heat down to medium and add celery, carrots, onions, leeks and butter to pot. Brown the vegetables until they are soft, about 10-12 minutes.

Add three boxes of chicken broth and the wine to the softened vegetables. Turn heat up to high and bring broth to a boil. Immediately turn down to a simmer and add the chicken breasts and any accumulated liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Remove chicken breasts from pot and allow to rest on a cutting board. At this point I taste the soup. Most of the time I think the flavor is too mild. This is when I add chicken concentrate or bouillon. You could also add butter, but I try to keep that to a minimum. This soup has almost no fat. I think you’ll find it tastes fuller if you add the recommended amount of chicken concentrate or bouillon.

While the chicken is resting insert immersion blender in soup and process the softened vegetables and the broth until smooth. This takes 3-4 minutes. If you don’t own an immersion blender this can be done in a regular blender in batches, or in a Cuisinart. The advantage of the immersion blender is fewer dishes to wash and you don’t have move around hot soup. Once the broth is smooth, add the mushrooms to the soup and simmer for 15 minutes. While the mushrooms are simmering pull the chicken off of the bone and chop into cubes. Add chicken cubes back to the pot. The chicken should be just cooked through. If it still has pink spots, don’t worry it will finish cooking when you add the chicken cubes back to the pot. One of the advantages of cooking the chicken this way is that the meat stays really tender and moist.

Test the soup and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve or allow to cool and freeze.

You could absolutely make this soup without using the immersion blender and just have chunky soup. I like to mix things up so that some of the time our soup is smooth and sometimes it is chunky. One of the advantages of smooth soup in my house is that it means my children eat all of their vegetables. Though they are terrific eaters, they have been known to leave cooked carrots and/or celery at the bottom of a soup bowl. They don’t leave a drop behind when the broth is smooth.

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