Comforting Chicken Soup

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Dear Jess,

Wham. Bam. Thank you Tana Ramsay.

This. Soup.

THIS.

SOUP.

Make this soup! The fragrance, the ease, the yumminess! This is by far, the best chicken soup I have ever tasted, made, laid eyes upon… I was nearing the end of making it, and in walks Jason from running errands. “Ooooooooooooo… Sally!’ were his exact words after inhaling the aromas of this soup. It’s so good that even though I made it on Saturday, right this minute I have another pot of it in the works.

For a while now, I have wanted to make a chicken soup where you cook the entire chicken in the soup. Two of my friends had mentioned that they had tried it and will never go back. I searched for a recipe on the Internet, and didn’t really find anything that peaked my interest, or met my expectations. I had given up all hope, and turned to Tana Ramsay’s book Home Made. I knew I would find a delicious soup recipe there, even if it wasn’t the one I was looking for. Little did I know that fortune was about to shine it’s big, beautiful, bright face upon me. Low and behold, on page 6, there is a delightful recipe called Comforting Chicken Soup. And guess what… you cook the whole chicken in it!

I made a few alterations, though I feel I stayed true to her vision.

Comforting Chicken Soup
adapted from Tana Ramsay’s Comforting Chicken Soup, Home Made, Page 6

1 Chicken weighing about 2 3/4 lb
2 sticks of celery
2 carrots
2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1 sprig tarragon
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup spelt flour
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt

1. In a large stock pot, with lid, Put the chicken into the center of the pot and surround with HALF your celery, HALF your carrots, HALF your leeks, and HALF your onions. Throw in the bay leaf, peppercorns, tarragon and a generous pinch of salt and pour over enough water almost to cover the bird, leaving the top of the breast clear. It will poach in the steam. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Put on the lid and cook very gently for 1 1/2 hours.

2. When the time is up, remove from the heat and allow to cool for as long as it takes to remove the chicken safely. Put the chicken to one side.

3. Pour the cooking broth through a fine sieve into a clean container (I use a large measuring cup) and discard all the vegetables and seasonings.

4. Meanwhile, in a clean pan, add oil, remaining onion, celery, carrots and leeks. Fry until soft, but not coloured. Add the flour and stir well to make a smooth paste around the vegetables. Fry for a couple of minutes, then gradually stir in the broth. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the times. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then liquidize in batched with a blender (and return to pot), or take your immersion blender to it.

5. Add red wine vinegar.

6. Using your hands, remove the breast meat from the chicken carcass, discarding the skin. (I put the dark meat away for another soup.)

Shred the meat into very small pieces and add to the soup. Season with salt to taste and serve in warm bowls.

 

A perfect soup, for a Canadian winter.

Love,

Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham was named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant at the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago on Monday night. Highlands pastry chef Dolester Miles was also named best in the country, making the restaurant the runaway winner at the awards. A panel of chefs, restaurateurs, and food journalists gave chef and owner Frank Stitt’s modern Southern restaurant the honors. The other big winner of the night was Seattle’s Edouardo Jordan, whose JuneBaby was named best new restaurant in America; he was also named Best Chef Northwest for his restaurant, Salare. “People always talk about Portland [Oregon] as the Pacific Northwest restaurant city,” said Jordan. “But they’re like the cool kid with a new name every season. Seattle is showing we are an ongoing force.” He doesn’t credit the rise of Amazon.com Inc. for his restaurants’s successes, although owner Jeff Bezos has dined at Salare. “Seattle has always had big companies—Boeing, Microsoft. They come in and eat, but it’s the people in the city who are making it happen. They’re more engaged than anyone gives them credit for.” The James Beard Foundation Awards recognize restaurants, wine programs, chefs, designers, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, and journalists from around the country. The awards, established in 1990, have recognized industry leaders such as Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer and Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park. While it may not have been a good year for such famed restaurant cities as New York and San Francisco (which won only two chef and beverage awards, including Best Service at Zuni, and the Best Chef West winner Dominique Crenn), it was a very good year for women. Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in New York was named Outstanding Chef in the U.S, and Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn was named Best Chef New York. Forty percent of this year’s nominees were female. Women won many of the major awards, including Caroline Styne, who was named Outstanding Restaurateur for Lucques Group in Los Angeles. Forty percent of the winners of the regional chef awards were women; last year, that number was 30 percent. For the first time, voters were encouraged to consider qualities beyond food, wine, and ambiance, including respect and integrity. This follows accusations of sexual harassment against such past Beard winners as Mario Batali and John Besh.

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