The intention this time is use this as a diary for all the meals I cook day in and day out, more so than just getting it out to people or readers. I absolutely hope these recipes and ideas help people to cook or explore their kitchens, expertise and food stores more, but this is a way for me to document all the fun I have in my kitchen (a much different kitchen then when I started this blog, too, by the way! A much different kitchen, a few different boyfriends later- yes, still :) - a bit older (wiser?!? ehhhh...), hopefully happier though and with a few more kitchen trucs up my sleeve these days.
My current boyfriend, BB (or "the Big Eagle," undecided just yet as to how I will refer to him), has encouraged me for YEARS to write down the wonderful recipes I come up with each night. I just never do. (I always think I will remember. I never, ever remember). So, maybe its a new year, new start thing, or the fact that I feel extra organized and focused these days (thank you #mariekondo!) but I just felt like... it was darn time to do this again. So, here's to learning new photo and video tricks to keep up with the world and millennials and the future and 2019, and cheers to One Loud Lemon and this old/new adventure!
~~~~~~~~ First post of the new year...and in six years ~~~~~~~
Wintry days call for, what do you snow.... SOUP! And yes... it was a snow day here in Alexandria, VA yesterday and today. Pretty packable snow right now- great snow balls and snowmen!
With the extra time and in usual fashion (time or not) I pulled everything out of the fridge and looked it all over. I knew I had a soup in there somewhere. Funny though, no real mess (the usual) ensued from it all! I'm a believer in the creative process of cooking, and not so much in the cleaning up after every step and every spill. (BB/Big Eagle is a little different, FYI). Just feels like you're not into the experience of it all if you care to clean up every few minutes. I like the mess. Feels... extra creative :)
Anyway, I'd say the soup is a bit Tuscan (probably just given the cannellini beans), but with nods to other regions if you choose to use the variations I mention later. Its warm, satisfying and with or without variations, makes a great meal that uses a lot of pantry items (again, thank you #mariekondo! I have reached category #komono (misc) and feel incredibly successful as I- gently- tear through the house moving into 2019 with ONLY the items that spark joy!).
Winter Chicken and Vegetable Soup
*2+ uncooked chicken breasts, no bones or skin
*1+ medium onion
*1 red pepper (I do not always use; I may use 1/2 tsp red pepper instead)
*3+ carrots, peeled, halved, cut crosswise
*1-2 potatoes, peeled, halved, quartered or coined (however you prefer)
*2 garlic cloves, chopped
*1 Tbsp butter
*Diced tomatoes, 10oz can (of salt, no salt added, more fun varieties- it doesn't matter)
*bouillon cubes (see notes below; I find bouillon tricky... maybe you can relate)
*heavy cream/creme fraiche
*parsley/cilantro (1/4 to 1/2 c., chopped)
*4+ cups water
*ditalini or rigatoni pasta
*cannellini beans (14.5 oz can, rinsed)
OK. So, first. I am not into rules or specifics (probably why I don't bake). Feel free to use this as a frame work for whatever you have in mind. That's the point. It's just groundwork for something more. Please use more chicken, veggies, garlic, water, anything you want, as you see fit. Way more fun that way. Cooking is how I decompress... if I have to overthink it, I am missing the entire point of the experience...
Saute the onion, pepper, carrot, potatoes and chicken breasts together for one to two minutes with 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. I like to let the veggies and chicken brown just a bit. I add the can of tomatoes at this point, just as the veggies get to simmer together for a few minute or two.
Pour in about an inch of water, as well as the garlic and parsley or cilantro. Bring to boil. Add the bouillon if that's your thing (I have been adding this recently. If I realize a soup needs more liquid, I will add about two cups water and a cube. At this point, I will add more pepper, but never salt, as there's enough in the cube). Cover and bring down to a simmer for 1 hour.
In the meantime, make pasta and drain beans. I cook the pasta according to directions and set both the pasta and beans aside, for guests or myself to add to soup as desired, once done.
Check on soup. Chicken should be tender at this point and shreddable with two forks. Shred in the pot.
Add water as you see fit. I might add a few more cups and another cube- but that's up to you. Water is also just fine, with salt and pepper. If you taste as you go, you'll have a better idea of how its going, but also, if you plan on eating this the next day, you'll have a great idea then, as all the flavors and tastes will have then mingled quite well.
NOW~~ its at this point that you have a choice. You can add the cannellini beans and/or pasta as you wish. They will soak up the lovely, juicy, soupy liquids though. So, if you do add them, maybe add more water and/or cubes or salt and pepper and herbs. I like stuff salty sometimes, I cant help it! But, again... this is a framework, as all recipes should be. NOT Bible... just gentle guidance. Use your gut instinct, hone your judgment, and do what feels right at the time.
My other tip is mixing heavy cream (2 Tbsp) and 1-2 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese over medium heat in a small sauce pan for up to a min or just over... this is the secret to just about everything... not only does it feel like you're making some magic secret sauce at the stove... but once you pour this delicate creaminess into your soup... my GOSH, it's just transformed into a beautiful bowl of wintry goodness. 1-2 Tbsp of sour cream or creme fraiche is also fine if you just happen to have a weak spot for luscious dairy :). These last two tips will basically make this into entirely separate soups. So... three soups... there ya go!!
Really just have fun though.... that's the whole point of all of this!!! :)