Saturday, November 10, 2012

Creamy Chicken Autumn Soup

We had the good fortune to have our pastor and his wife join Allen's folks over here for dinner, and since I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple for company I decided to have soup and cornbread with chocolate pudding for dessert. It's a basic menu, but when you combine a flavorful autumnal soup with an absolutely flawless cornbread recipe you really don't need anything else.


I use the link above with a few minor changes. When using buttermilk you can get good results changing the baking powder to baking soda. I didn't realize this, but when my mother-in-law mixed offered to mix up the cornbread for me she said that's what her mother used when mixing up cornbread with buttermilk.  It must work because we ended up with a pan of moist, perfectly brown cornbread with a delightfully dense, spongy texture. A cast iron pan is crucial for this. Also, I cook with lard. You should too if you possibly can.

The second change I made is that I soaked my cornmeal overnight in the buttermilk. Trina, along with others, recommends soaking grains, and I really think you get the best cornbread this way. Sacrilege I know, but I've been known to add a pinch of sugar to my cornbread batter just to counteract the slightly bitter corn taste. When you soak your cornmeal though you lose that bitterness and end up with a lighter, just barely sweet cornbread without adding any sugar or wheat flour. I have to think it's more digestible too. Just put your cornmeal in a bowl with the recommended amount of buttermilk and let it sit until you're ready to bake. Mix in the rest of the ingredients as normal and enjoy some excellent cornbread.

Creamy Chicken Autumn Soup:


1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
4 large carrots
2 med sweet potatoes
3 med parsnips
4 stalks celery
1 celery root (or 1-2lbs potatoes)
portabella mushrooms
frozen corn
frozen spinach
milk or almond milk
chicken stock
2lb chicken thighs
cheddar cheese
bacon bits

I made this soup potato and dairy free since Allen and my mother-in-law feel best on that diet, and that's why I used celery root and almond milk. If you eat potatoes you can just sub the potatoes back in for the celery root.

Ok, basic soup recipe here. Dice your onions and add them to a pot with a little oil and the minced garlic and let them cook down a bit while you chop the other veggies. Add everything to your pot (except the potatoes or celery root) along with salt, pepper, and chicken stock. Top off with water and bring everything to a boil. While that's cooking boil up your diced celery root with a little salt and pepper until very tender. Add some milk and some of the soup liquid to the celery root and puree until very smooth. I had a large pot of soup, so I added some cornstarch and white rice flour for extra thickeners. About 2 tablespoons each I think. Pour your puree into the soup and let simmer.

While your soup is simmering brown some bacon in a pan until very crispy. Drain the bacon and immediately add your chicken thighs to the pan and cook them in the bacon grease until just barely cooked through. While the chicken is cooking crumble the bacon and set aside and grate the cheese to set aside. Cut the chicken into bite sided pieces and add to your soup pot along with the frozen spinach and frozen corn (if you haven't added them already).

Season the soup with salt, pepper, chipotle powder, a handful of chopped fresh parsley, and roughly a tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary and simmer 10-15 minutes to let the flavors combine. Serve with grated cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles on the side.

This is one of those recipes that sounds so simple - chicken soup with root vegetables - but the flavors are delightfully interesting. The parsley is bright and fresh; the rosemary is pungent; and the bacon and chipotle add a delightfully smoky warmth and depth to a soup under-girded by juicy chicken and a cozy blend of fall vegetables. If you're looking for a new fall soup I recommend you give it a try :)

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