Last week we enjoyed two beautiful 70 degree, Spring like days. On Tuesday we faced ice and snow again. Are you kidding me?! Ugh! I guess that is often how it goes around here. We have several “teaser” days which trick us into believing Spring is here just to get smacked down with a “wintry mix” once again. I thought some nice home-made chicken soup might ease the pain a bit. Now, when I say “home-made” I suppose I should clarify the term a bit. It is home-made in the sense that I made it here in my home. However, it might be a bit of a cheat, because my chicken stock is from the lovely folks at Swanson and my chicken meat came from a rotisserie chicken purchased at the local Giant supermarket. Unlike Grandma, I wasn’t slaving over the stove all day. I spent about an hour on it. But let me assure you, this soup is really yummy and definitely hits the spot on a damp and sleety day.
You can add any type of pasta you like to this soup. I chose Stelline pasta-a pasta shaped like little stars. Fun!
One thing I have learned regarding adding pasta to soup though, is that you should cook it prior to adding it to the soup. I thought it would be fine just to throw it on it “raw” and let it cook while in the soup. That doesn’t work out so well. It absorbs way too much liquid this way and you end up with something that is much more solid than any soup should be.
I thought a savory muffin would go along great with this dish as well, so I made Onion & Shallot Muffins while the soup was simmering. I was a bit nervous that these muffins would be too oniony. I mean a shallot is an onion, so are these guys going to turn out like little onion bombs? The answer is absolutely not. They were very moist with a delicate, subtle onion flavour. A really hearty, biscuit-like muffin.
The Jarlsberg cheese adds great flavour and texture as well. These would complement any soup/stew recipe, or are great all on their own for that matter. Give them a try!
Chicken Star Soup
12 cups low sodium chicken broth
2-3 tsp. Montreal Chicken seasoning
1 Cup chopped celery (4 stalks)
1 Cup onion-chopped
1-2 cloves garlic-finely chopped
Breast from 1 Rotisserie Chicken-shredded
1/2 C. fresh cilantro-chopped (if you don’t like cilantro flavour, substitute flat leaf parsley)
Chalula hot sauce, red pepper, black pepper and salt to taste.
1/2 box Stelline pasta-or the pasta of your choice
In stock pot, or large pan combine broth and Montreal chicken seasoning. Bring to a boil. Stir in celery, onion, garlic and carrot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add Chicken, cilantro and other spices to broth. Bring to low boil.
Prepare 1/2 box of Stelline Pasta according to the directions on the box but cook for only 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain well and then add to soup. Stir well.
Turn heat down to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Makes about 15 cups of soup.
Onion & Shallot Muffins
5 Tbsp. (3 fl. oz/80 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz/ 45 g) finely chopped red onion
1 medium to large shallot, minced
3 cups (15 oz/ 470 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 oz/170 g) grated Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
3 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) milk
Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Grease 11 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavoured nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cup one-third full with water to prevent warping.
In a frying pan over medium heat, heat 3 Tbsp. of the oil. Add the onion and shallot and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) of the cheese, the parsley, baking powder, salt, oregano, and celery seed.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining 2 tbsp. oil, and milk until blended. Add the cooled onions, along with any oil left in the pan. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the onion mixture just until evenly moistened. The batter will be lumpy. (I actually had to add more milk-about 1/2 cup, because the batter was too dry. This batter is quite thick)
Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim. Sprinkle each muffin with some of the remaining 1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) cheese.
Bake the muffins until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 25-30 minutes. a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book