When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Soup for supper

Cool, crisp fall weather means the return of comfort food at our house, and one of my favourites is homemade chicken noodle soup. I love the smell of stock simmering away on the stove all afternoon, and the delicious warmth of a hearty soup does a good job of filling everyone's bellies after a busy day. This week I had a chicken carcass left over from a recent roast dinner, so I used that as my starting point and added lots of veggies, beans, and pasta to make a very satisfying meal.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Tomatoes, Spinach and Beans

To make the chicken stock, you will need:

1 chicken carcass, left over from a roast chicken
approximately 8 cups of water (like my mom, I never measure these things!)
2 whole carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 whole onion
a few sprigs each of fresh thyme and parsley
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for several hours.

Approximately one hour before dinner, strain the stock through a colander into a large bowl. (*Note: Do not forget the bowl!!! I heard a story once about my grandma making soup and pouring all of the lovely stock down the drain by accident. It could happen to anyone!) Pour strained stock back into the pot and return the pot to the stove. Remove all of the chicken from the bones in the colander and return the meat to the pot as well. Discard the bones and the cooked vegetables and herbs.

To make the soup, you will need:

1 can (796 ml) diced tomatoes
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 can (540 ml) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
approximately 1 1/2 - 2 cups small sized pasta (again, I didn't measure!)
salt and pepper to taste

Once you have returned the stock and the chicken pieces to the stove, add the tomatoes and the sliced carrots. Bring it all to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a separate pot just until it is still slightly firm. Drain and rinse pasta.

Just before you plan to eat, add the beans, spinach, parsley, and cooked pasta to the soup pot, and simmer until heated through. (This will take about five minutes.) Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

A big pot of soup like this goes a long way, making a super supper one night and delicious hot lunches packed in thermoses the next day. Mirroring the vibrant hues of fall leaves outdoors with this colourful soup in bowls at the table is a great way to celebrate the season!

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