Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good Soup!

Fall is upon us. First snow fell in Western NY last night in the southern tier commonly referred to as the snow belt or ski area. Nights are brisk and clear, and days are warmer with blue skies, sunshine and white fluffy clouds.

It is just this time of year when thoughts may turn to a good soup, and there is nothing better than homemade soup. This year I am learning about "bone broth", its nutritional value and wonderful taste. Below are some ideas for both chicken and also beef soup.

For chicken soup I purchase a certified organic chicken, usually from the Green Heron Growers who set up shop each Saturday at the Williamsville Farmers Market. Although more expensive than store bought chicken, there is no fear in simmering these bones, for they have not a trace of anything synthetic, artificial or medicinal -- just lots of sunshine, lolling about on certified organic pastures, and lots of space to call their own. I first roast the chicken in the oven and have the legs and thighs for meals, keeping all bones for later use. When ready for soup, I remove the breast meat from the carcass and save it in the refrigerator, then place the carcass and bones from the legs and thighs in a pot with just enough water to cover all. If you use too much water, the broth will not gel when chilled, and the gel is a true sign that you have extracted all the wonderful nutritional benefits from the bones. Cover and simmer on the stove for hours and hours, until the water turns cloudy, for then and only then is it ready to be made into soup. Sometimes I start this process one day, and continue the simmer stage intermittently for the next day or so as time and circumstance permit, refrigerating the pot in between simmerings.

When the broth is thus ready, remove all bones from the pot, strain the broth to catch any small stray bones, place the broth in a clean pot and save the bones for later. Into the broth add vegetables of your choosing. I usually use the standard onions, carrots, celery, and then add whatever else I may have left over. For seasoning, I usually use fresh herbs such as parsley and dill which result in a wonderful taste when used together. Take the chicken breast meat that you saved earlier and cut or shred it into bite sized pieces and add it to the mix. Same with whatever meat you can pick from the bones. The last thing that I add is some type of green, such as baby spinach, chopped escarole, chopped kale, etc.

For beef soup the process is the same. I use beef soup bones, again purchased from Green Heron Growers, from cows 100% grass fed on organic pastures. I use about 4 bones per pot of soup. Leave the meat on the bones while you are simmering the bones, then remove and proceed as for chicken soup directions.