Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chicken and Not Mushy GF Pasta Soup

Spouse 1.0 and I have been sick with this year's nasty flu.  He's been sick since a week ago Friday. I've been sick since Wednesday.  It feels like I've been sick for 15 of the last 10 days.

Sick people require chicken soup.  But, what do you do when there's not a well person in the house to make it?  In the gluteney, chemical-laden, frankenfood days of yore, we simply ate canned.

Now, we do without or get by on frozen pork posole until I feel well enough to make the chicken soup.  Yeah, so by the time we get it, we almost don't need it.

Today's big challenges: The soup had to be done in less than 2 hours, including peeling and chopping. It had to be fairly easy, because I'm fairly dead.  It had to use stuff I had on hand. And, since I was making enough for at least 2 days, I had to find a way to make the pasta not turn to mush. (Stay tuned... I'm kinda proud of how I managed that last challenge!)

There's no way a less-than-2-hour soup is going to have that simmered all day yumminess of my mom's soups.  But, this turned out plenty good enough.

3 pale and slightly limp ribs of celery
2.5 iffy-looking carrots
1 onion, past its prime
Spray olive oil
1/2 TBSP butter
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
A few leaves fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme (and/or dry)
2 quarts of prepared organic vegetable broth*
2 bay leaves
pepper
onion powder
dry parsley
freeze-dried chives and/or onion powder
garlic powder
1 cup frozen organic peas (approx.)
8 oz. Tinkyada brown rice pasta shells**

  1. Wash and chop the celery, carrots, and onion. 
  2. Spray a soup kettle with olive oil spray and start the vegies to sauté.
  3. Rinse and dry the chicken, then cut into approx. 1 inch cubes.  Periodically stir the pot.
  4. Add butter to kettle.  Add chicken and start it to saut√© with the vegies.
  5. Rinse the fresh herbs and chop them.  Add them to the pot.
  6. Add the vegie broth, a couple of cups of filtered water, bay leaves, and other seasonings.  Cover and simmer while you clean up a little and check facebook.  Maybe 20 minutes total. Chicken should be cooked through by now.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn the burner off for now.
  8. Scoop out about half the broth into a 3 quart sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until barely done, stirring periodically.
  9. Meanwhile, add the peas to the soup pot.
  10. When the pasta is done, scoop it into a separate bowl using a slotted spoon.  Do not rinse or drain.
  11. Return the broth from cooking the pasta to the soup pot.  Add a little more water if needed.  Bring to a boil and adjust seasonings (again) if needed.
  12. To serve: Spoon a bit of pasta into a bowl or mug, then add hot soup mixture. Stir to combine.
* It's somewhere between hard and impossible to find a chicken broth that doesn't contain yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, or mysterious "spices" -- all potential sources of free glutamic acid.  So, I use vegie broth in soups instead.

** GF pasta in general is a lot less mush-prone than it used to be, but Tinkyada has proven consistently reliable.  Cooking and storing the pasta apart from the soup keeps it from turning to mush.

Sorry. No pictures.  Still too sick to manage that.  But, am feeling a lot better with some chicken soup in my tummy.