Posted on | April 27, 2008 | 39 Comments |
I pretend to be a great chef. I try to believe that cooking is therapeutic, but I don’t really believe that! I do like to pretend that I am a big time cook, I love the accolades that come with it. I love the glory so much that I’ve even deluded myself into thinking that I actually enjoy cooking. But there are so many other things I’d rather be doing.
Therapeutic, yeah right! I think watching TV is therapeutic, reading is relaxing and happy hour is pure bliss. But cooking, it is something that I do out of necessity. And to keep my sanity, I have trained my mind to think that cooking is fun. It works, most of the time! Why else would I sign myself up for a class that teaches the fundamentals of cooking? Where they teach you how to hold a knife properly and the proper way to cut an onion! Or how to make the perfect stock at home by simmering it for 24 hours! Yep, a whole day dedicated to stock… And I did this to myself even before I had a food blog, so it wasn’t even for research purpose, I genuinely thought I needed to know all these.
Well, needless to say, making my own stocks at home is not something I do. They say the only way to get the depth of flavor in your sauces and soups is to make your own stock. That might be true, but I am normally happy with the canned broth, especially when used in small amounts. But when it comes to clear soups where the main ingredient is the broth, even I stay away from the canned broth. Main reason being that I make clear soup only when Siv is sick, and I wouldn’t feed him that much stuff out of a can when he is feeling ill. But even then, I can’t imagine putting that many hours into making a stock, so what do I do? I turn to the greatest kitchen invention known to mankind, a pressure cooker!
I am sure there is a difference in taste between a slow brewed stock that takes 8-24 hours to complete, and a pressure cooked version that takes just 45 minutes. But my palate is not that sophisticated to notice the difference. So, here is my version of a chicken soup that cleared all the congestion out of Siv’s chest, the best medicine for the common cold! If you have a more evolved palate, replace the first part of the recipe with your homemade broth. Or if you are lazy and just want to use a store bought broth, feel free to do so too… You can use a vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian soup.
Traditionally the broth is made with a Bouquet Garni, but since I strain everything out of the liquid anyway, I didn’t bother doing so. You can also add different veggies and herbs as you wish. I sauteed the chicken bones before boiling, which isn’t very common either, but I don’t like the raw taste of the meat, and wasn’t in the mood to roast the bones as you would normally do for a brown stock.
- 1.5 lbs chicken breast bones after most of the meat is removed
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 cup sliced onions
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fresh/dried thyme
- 2 star anise
In a large pressure cooker, melt the butter and add the sliced onions. Saute till the onions are soft. Add the chicken bones and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 6-7 minutes till the chicken pieces turns completely white and the raw smell disappears. Add about 12 cups of cold water to completely cover the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients and close the lid. After the pressure is built up completely, reduce the heat to medium high and cook for about 45 minutes. Once the cooker is cool enough to handle, remove the lid and pass the liquid through a large strainer. Discard the solids, there is no more flavor left in those. Now youl have a clear aromatic chicken broth ready for the next step.
Lemongrass Chicken Soup
Use any veggies and greens and mushrooms of your choice. I used oyster mushrooms and baby spinach, only veggies I had. The measures are approximate.
- 8-10 cups of chicken broth
- 3 lemongrass stalks
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced ginger pieces
- 8 small Thai chilies slit (3 jalapeno peppers)
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 large tomato cut into 8 pieces.
- fresh basil leaves for garnish
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce/ tamari sauce
- juice from half a lime
- salt and pepper for seasoning
Discard the tough outer layers of the lemongrass, and cut the soft inner part into small finger long slices. Place the lemongrass stalks and the ginger slices in a mortar, and crush lightly with the pestle.
In a large saucepan, place the broth and bring it to a boil. Add the lightly crushed lemongrass and ginger, along with the sliced chilies. Reduce the heat and cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the lemongrass, ginger and chilies from the liquid and bring it back to a full boil.
Add the mushrooms and spinach and tomato slices into the liquid and let it boil for about 8-10 minutes. Add the soy sauce and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve piping hot.
This soup was so hot and spicy and tangy and aromatic, it was exactly what my poor sick darling needed.
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