February 28, 2012

Chicken Soup with Roasted Purple Potatoes

The weather's been a bit finicky lately in NYC.  It was in the 50s today but in the 30s just a few days ago.  Go figure.  The weather may be warming up, but there's alway time for soup.

Chicken soup is a favorite comfort food, and it doesn't hurt that they're so easy to make.  I decided to roast the potatoes instead of boiling them in the soup because I didn't want the starch to thicken the soup.  Plus, roasted potato skin is delicious.

I also make my own chicken stock probably twice a month.  I save the bones from every chicken I roast and store them in the freezer.  Once I have 2-3 carcasses worth, I'll make some stock.  This is the good kind, literally quivering with all the collagen and vitamins from the bones, not the insipid, meek stuff you get in cans.  I mostly use them to make soup, but I also like to add small amounts while sauteing vegetables or making ragu or tomato sauce for a subtle umami oomph.

I decided to include this photo in this post because I like the arrangement of the vegetables.  I took this shot before I added the chicken and potatoes.  When I photograph food that contains several components, I usually add them in separate stages and then build up to the final hero shot whilst fiddling with the composition and lighting.

Chicken Stock
Makes approximately 2-1/2 quarts

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 onions, peeled and quartered
1-2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into even chunks
4-5 celery stalks, sliced into even chunks
5 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed with blade of knife
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
1 bay leaf
bones from 2-3 chickens

The following are optional, great additions if you have any on hand:
tough green leaves from leeks
few sprigs of parsley
few sprigs of fresh thyme
shiitake mushroom stems

Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large pot over medium heat.  Saute all ingredients except chicken bones until vegetables have softened and released their aromatic juices, adding more oil if necessary.  The longer you saute them, the more flavorful the broth will be--just don't burn them.  Add chicken bones and fill pot with water until everything is covered.  Bring to a boil, then decrease heat to a simmer.  Cover pot and let simmer 3 hours or more.  Strain, discard solids, and let stock cool.  Immediately refrigerate and use within 2 days or freeze.

Chicken Soup with Roasted Purple Potatoes
The beauty of this recipe is that everything is to taste.  Make as much as want, add other ingredients, or take some things out.  It's up to you. 

Purple potatoes
Olive oil
Chicken broth
Roasted chicken

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Cut potatoes into large, even chunks or wedges and toss with olive oil and salt.  Roast until potatoes are cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.

Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large pot over medium heat.  Saute onions, carrots, and celery until onions have softened.  Add broth and bring to a boil, then decrease heat to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.  Add pieces of roasted chicken and cook a few minutes more to heat chicken through.  Add potatoes before serving.

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