It's that time of year in New England. We're in wool most days and we're shoveling out as often as not. So we want to hunker down, have a big bowl of soup, and go to bed early.
Here's a six-serving soup I made for Bruce on a recent cold evening. Leftovers were terrific the next day! It's not an authentic Thai preparation but a good, old-fashioned, American soup, renovated with Thai flavors. It's one of the many soups in COOKING KNOW-HOW. It's sure to become a winter favorite at your house.
First, put all this in a large pot and bring it to a simmer over high heat:
- 4 cups (1 quart or 1 liter) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups (1 quart or 750 milliliters) water
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rings
- 3 medium celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger or jarred minced ginger
- 2 minced garlic cloves or 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic
- and one 3 1/2 to 4-pound (1 1/2- to 1 3/4-kilogram) chicken, giblets and neck removed, the chicken itself cut into 8 or 9 pieces.
Here are a few notes on all that.
- In the metric measurements, the water's less than the broth because the 1 liter of broth represents more than 1 quart of broth--so we compensated by using less water than broth in those metric conversions.
- If you want to use prechopped onion, often available in the produce section of your supermarket, use 1 cup.
- If you can't find a cut-up chicken at the market, ask the butcher to cut one up for you.
Once the soup is simmering, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly for 1 hour.
As the soup simmers, it'll develop scum, mostly from the chicken bones and skin. You don't have to skim it off, but it will yield a cloudy soup. We prefer to get it out with a smaller strainer or a flatware tablespoon, scooping the foamy scum to the side of the pot and lifting it out.
After an hour at a simmer, use large tongs or a large, slotted spoon to scoop out the chicken pieces. Cool them on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep the soup covered and at a very low simmer.
Skin and debone the chicken. Chop up the meat. (Make sure you get every speck. Waste not, want not.) Return the meat to the pot.
Why not just use boneless skinless chicken bits? Because most of the flavor is in the bones and skin. Trust us on this one.
Once the chopped chicken is back in the soup, increase the heat to bring it back to a good bubble, then add all this:
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, the caps thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup shredded basil; the minced green bits of two scallions
- and 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai curry paste.
Another note. Look for Thai curry paste in containers in the Asian aisle of almost all supermarkets. The paste can be RIDICULOUSLY hot. We prefer the yellow paste here to the red because it's milder, more floral, and less fiery. Use the paste sparingly until you get the hang of it. Store it covered in the fridge for up to 1 year.
Once the soup is bubbling again, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Taste it for salt--there may be some in the version of Thai curry paste you used, but you might want to add 1 teaspoon or so--then dish it up. You'll want it while it's still hot. For maximum comfort, natch.