Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chicken Soup and Bathtime

When Lorelei (my daughter) and I got home from our day today it was late, she was cold and wet from sitting in a shopping cart that hadn't been wiped of the rain water that had collected on the seat (oops), and she was C.R.A.N.K.Y.  I plopped her resistant butt into a warm bath and tried to warm her up a bit.  The other thing that I knew would warm her up was a good bowl of soup.

So, with a two-year old in the bath, I began to run back and forth from the kitchen, where I was madly chopping vegetables and leftover chicken, to the bathroom, where I hoped my kid hadn't either a) drowned having been unattended for 1.5 minutes or b) was drinking the bath water.  I'm sorry to say that a lot of bath water was consumed, but thankfully no drowning occurred. 

By the end of the bath my soup was ready to be put on the table and all were warm and happy.  Whew!!

* Here's how I made the soup so quickly and easily. *

Last night I bought a roasted chicken from the grocery store.  As soon as I got home, I cut the breast meat off and fed some to Lorelei for dinner.  Then, while the bird was still warm, I pulled the meat off of the carcase and put it in the fridge for later.  Before I sat down to the table I put the bones, seasoned skin and all into a pot of water.  I let it simmer for a couple of hours and before going to bed placed the hot pot on a potholder in the bottom of the fridge to cool.  Voila, seasoned chicken stock.

Tonight, when the child was well distracted with bubbles and bath toys, I started the soup.  I turned the stove to Medium-high heat, grabbed a stock pot and poured in some of last night's stock to heat it up.  (Ran to check on the baby) I sliced three carrots, 1/4 of an onion, and three ribs of celery, and threw that all into the soup.  (Ran to check on the baby)  Then I grabbed the rest of last night's pulled chicken and chopped it coarsely.  (While doing this I heard a slurping sound come from the bathroom and hollered, "Don't drink the bath water!!!" The slurping stopped.)  Put the chicken in the pot.  (Run to the bathroom panic-stricken because I heard coughing.  "Hi mama!!"  Whew.  Not dead.)  Finally I threw in a can of rinsed lentils, some left over sauteed greens (also from last night's dinner), salt, pepper, and two bay leaves.  I covered it up and let it simmer on the stove until we sat down to eat.  All in all I think it took about twenty-five minutes to bathe the kid and make dinner.  A full recipe will be posted in the next few days.

Easy chicken soup with a drizzle of creme fraiche.

About store-bought roasted chicken

I learned to love buying roasted chickens when I lived in Paris for a semester.  I had a very tight budget and shared the dormitory kitchen, which wasn't always available to cook in.  One day, while talking to the neighborhood butcher and his wife about my situation, the butcher almost forced one of his fresh birds on me.  I wasn't too keen on the idea of taking a whole bird.  Being a recovered vegetarian and really weirded out about eating meat off of the bone, I just didn't think that it was a good choice for me. 

This sweet older couple had their birds spinning in a glass-encased oven-on-wheels on the sidewalk.   The aroma that filled the street when the chickens were done was so wonderful that I ultimately couldn't resist.  These poulets rôtis became a staple of my French life and remain so to this day.

Where to buy your bird?  I buy mine at Ballard Market one of the Seattle-based Town and Country grocery stores.  Their birds are free range, grain fed, and $7.99 for a whole bird.  As for your other, bigger stores, talk to the deli counter to see where they get their chickens... if you care.


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