Food for Thought

Posts Tagged ‘chicken


It was horrendously humid and muggy over the 4th of July Weekend.  I stayed inside and made a big pot of hot chicken soup.  I know.  It sounds crazy.  This was never on my list of things to cook that week, but, unfortunately, by the end of the night on the 4th, every time I tried to swallow a sip of water, I felt like that sip was being accompanied by ten hungry, hungry hippo marbles trying to squeeze their way down my throat.  By the following morning, I had a fever.  The inside of my body felt as oppressively warm as the outside world must have felt to all of you healthy people.  Except that feeling was in my veins.  I could not entirely escape it by ducking into the house or getting an ice cream cone, although I did try that.

I spent the entire day in bed feeling grateful for the person who invented air conditioning, which made things somewhat better.  I watched an entire season of television on Netflix.  Needless to say, my energy was low.  I haven’t been sick like that since I was a little kid.  I’ve been sick a number of times since, but never stuck in bed for the whole day.  This is the first time it’s happened when my mom hasn’t been 5 feet away to make me a pot of chicken soup.  Being three hours from home is tough in a lot of ways, but especially at that moment.  I would have to make my own chicken soup.

Everyone needs to know how to cook soup.  Why?  Because soup in a can is an offensive thing.  I buy canned beans and I love chili in a can added to taco dip.  No, I don’t like to question that belief or dwell on the notion of meat that doesn’t expire for two years.  It works.  I don’t know how.  Two year old meat in a can?  Good.  Any kind of soup in a can?  No thanks.  It’s hit or miss in restaurants too.  Salty, metallic tasting French onion soups at diners and sports grills have ruined my day at least twice.  Homemade chicken soup is one of the easiest things in the world to make, really.  Toss some ingredients into a pot, boil, simmer, serve, start to feel a little more human.

Chicken Soup

Servings 12

Prep. time (min) 16



1 2-3 pound whole chicken

3 sticks celery

10 Carrots

1 onion, halved

0.5 tsp salt

0.75 tsp pepper

1 tsp parsley

0.5 tsp onion powder

0.5 tsp garlic powder

1.5 cups Pasta



1.       Take the  giblets (plastic baggie) out of the center of the chicken.  Feel free to toss out the chicken parts that are in this bag unless you want to them for some other recipe.

2.       Put the chicken into the bottom of a big pot and cover it with cold water.  Toss in your carrots, onion, and celery.  Add the onion and garlic powder.  Bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 1.5 hours.  Every so often, skim off the foam at the top with a spoon.

3.        Remove the chicken to a plate with vegetables, and cut them up so you can add them to the finished soup.  Add pasta to empty broth and cook it.  I left it on simmer and just left the pasta in for a good fifteen minutes.

4.       Add fresh or dried parsley.  Taste the soup to see if you need to add more salt.  (As my mom once reminded me, you can always add more salt, but it’s impossible to remove it if you’ve got too much.  I noted, for the first time, how difficult it is to determine this when you are sick and making your own soup.)

5.       Ladle out your broth and pasta, add chicken and vegetables to each bowl.


Random tips / recipe notes:

– You can buy a bag of soup ingredients that has carrots, celery and some other veggies like turnips instead of buying the individual veggies listed here.  I’ve done that and it works well and makes shopping easier.  I tend to make a minimalized version of the soup, meaning I don’t think you need turnips, because it’s the one my mom made for me growing up.  I added a bay leaf to my recipe this time and regretted it because it wasn’t the same.  If you do add a bay leaf, remember to take it out at the end.  Those things kill people.

-I diced up my onion at the beginning this time, because I wanted diced onions in my soup, but I realized why I never do that: it made it really hard to skim the foam off the top of the soup.  Some people take out the carrots and celery at the end and just serve the broth with the chicken and noodles, since all the nutrients from the veggies are now in the broth anyway.  I cut large carrots into quarters because I do like to reserve them for the bowls of soup, but I leave the celery out.  It’s up to you and what you like, but if you dice anything really small at the start, it’ll be tough to skim off the foam while it is cooking.   You can also toss in whole big carrots and cut them up at the end if you want to put them in the bowls of soup.

It has been clear to me for some time that every authority on the subject seems to feel we should eat more vegetables…actually, many authorities say MOSTLY vegetables, which is completely radical to the way many of us eat.  When Michael Pollan wrote in The New York Times that we should, “Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants,” I knew that only the first of his three commandments was one I could easily follow.  About a year ago, my husband and I acknowledged we don’t really eat vegetables every day, because I can’t count the beans in Hormel chili in a can that I bake with cream cheese and eat with chips and shredded cheddar. I also decided that since that second part, about not eating too much food, would seriously interfere with my #1 preoccupation in life, I should find some recipes that wouldn’t make me feel guilty about going in for that second plate.  Enter, spring rolls.


I had spring rolls at a local Vietnamese restaurant about a year ago and fell in love with them, but assumed they would be one of those things I couldn’t easily make at home.  I saw the “Take Home Chef” make them a few months later and I couldn’t believe how wrong I was.   I made some with garlic chicken, cilantro, and lots of veggies.  It was so easy.  You can make them a million different ways.  You could use a peanut sauce, ginger dressing, chili sauce, and whatever veggies you want.  Obviously, they’d be great without meat as well. I consulted the internet for ideas when I made mine, so check out a few different recipes.

Here’s what I used for mine:

1 large cucumber, cut into matchsticks

3 large carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 bunch cilantro

1 package bean sprouts

1 pound chicken breasts (marinated in the chili garlic sauce, cooked, and cut into strips)

1 cup Huy Fong’s chili garlic sauce (or any marinade you want!  I have a ginger salad dressing that would be great as well.)

1 package rice paper wraps (check the ethnic aisle in the grocery store)

All you need to know:  Have all the fillings ready to go.  Fill a large bowl with warm water.  Soak 1 wrapper for about 20 seconds in the water, or until it softens.  They get thinner the longer you leave them in, so you will quickly figure out how you like them.  It’s a little easier to fold them if they aren’t too thin, but you may prefer them that way.  Use your hands to take the wrapper out.

I’m a much better visual learner, so check out this 2 minute video to see the rolling up process in action before you try it.  Youtube:  how to roll spring rolls

Basically, you put the spring roll wrapper on a flat surface.  Add some of your ingredients in the middle.  You can see I put a few sticks of each vegetable and a tablespoon or so of chicken.  Fold the two sides over the middle, then roll it up like how you would fold a burrito. It’s really easy once you’ve tried a couple.

In the video, they used different plates.  I used the same platter over and over, so I kept a towel nearby to wipe off water in between making each roll.

They’re really great.  As with anything, the first 1 or 2 may fall apart or your water may not be hot enough, but once you know how to do it, you’ll be set to make them whenever you want.

As a resident of the Northeast, there is no greater annual feeling than that first day you can walk outside without your jacket on.  I always remember the first morning I wake up to hear birds again.  It’s always the moment when I realize how much I’d missed them, and the moment I know it’s time to hit the pavement and revisit the neighborhood.  I always feel that the size of my world has doubled.  I can walk around and greet neighbors, wave to strangers walking their dogs, and experience the greatest smell I can think of: barbecue.  This is another sign of the seasons that you always remember: the first barbecue.  Whenever someone’s barbecuing, you know it right away.  Oh man, I think they’ve got some sausage and peppers on there.  Why aren’t we grilling right now?  How could we neglect such beautiful weather by going back inside?  We need to invite people over! 

 As soon as we bought our house, we bought a grill and it was moved in before the plates were even unpacked.   To me, one of the most exciting things about having a house was having a yard, a yard being defined as the place you hold your barbecues. 


BBQing makes me so happy that I feel the need to wear bright orange pants.

Chicken Pineapple Skewers

We grill everything: hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken, corn on the cob, pizza, and, of course, skewers.  I’m really into these chicken pineapple skewers.  You can use fresh pineapple, but you can also save yourself a potential knife injury that delays your barbecue and go with the can.  In the world of canned fruit, I think pineapples hold up better than many others.  Plus, you can buy wedges that are perfect for skewering. 

Note:  Remember to soak wooden skewers, if you are using them, so they don’t set on fire! 

Chicken and Pineapple Skewers

    Cook Time: 25 min

    Yield: 16 skewers



    1 cup ketchup

    1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

    1/4 cup honey

    1 tablespoon yellow mustard

    1/4 cup brown sugar

    2 whole garlic cloves

    1 lemon, juiced

    8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)

    1 fresh pineapple

    16 skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes (if using wooden skewers)

    Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



In a saucepan over medium heat, add the ketchup, soy sauce, honey, mustard, sugar, garlic, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Heat an outdoor grill or a grill pan. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces of the same size. Peel the pineapple and cut it into 1 1/2-inch chunks, (or open your can of pineapple chunks with your favorite can opener). Alternating between the chicken and pineapple, thread the pieces onto the skewers. (Sometimes we make a few all pineapple skewers for our vegetarian friends).  Brush them with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Remove the garlic cloves from the barbecue sauce and discard; put about half the sauce into a small bowl for later. Brush skewers with some of the sauce. Cook them on the grill, basting regularly with the barbecue sauce, until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with reserved barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe Credit: Tyler Florence