How to Make a Lancaster County Favorite...
I just love Chicken Soup... It warms the soul on cool winter days. Nothing says "home" more than a pot simmering on the stove throughout the day. Here in Lancaster at our B&B, a Valentines' Package is not complete without the smells of a warm kettle of broth wafting through the air. And with Chicken Soup, there is so much you can do with it.
Although simple, you can really doctor it up with different ingredients. I will get to that at the end.
In the mean time... here is my simple recipe for a wholesome good soup.
1 whole chicken two or three lbs is fine
1 whole peeled onion
2 whole carrots washed
2 sticks of celery
1 bay leaf
Enough water to more than cover the chicken
Remove chicken from packaging and wash the excess juice off of it. Place in pot of water. Clean and rough cut carrots and celery place in pot. Peel and wash onion and slice in half. Place halved onion directly on burner and caramelize. (This will give color and added flavor to the broth). Lastly add your bay leaf.
Bring stock pot to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. You can let this go all day. The longer it goes the more it will reduce and the more flavor you will get out of the chicken. You can always add more water to the broth if you want it to simmer a little longer.
Careful to remove chicken and vegetables, (diced up vegetables can be added later for a simple chicken vegetable soup) Let chicken cool and then pick off the meat being careful to remove all bones and cartilage.
Add meat back to broth along with vegetables and WA LA... you have a warm Lancaster County Chicken Soup.
Wanna' mix it up? (who doesn't like to mix it up)
Below are a list of variations...
1. Chicken Avgolemeno... With diced chicken, rice, oregano and egg.... Add first three ingredients and then slowly pour (2 eggs per quart of soup) into the simmering broth being sure not to cook the egg...only temper it so it creates a wonderful creamy soup.
2. Chicken, Wild Rice and Sausage... Cook up some wild rice seperately, brown some Italian sausage. Then add both to the soup along with diced chicken. For a unique flavor, serve topped with a small wedge of gruyere cheese.
3. Chicken Tomato Florentine... All you need to do with this one is to add chopped spinach and a can of diced tomatoes... Top with shredded Regianno Parmesan.
4. Cream of Chicken and Dumpling... I like to add to my broth diced up chicken meat and some heavy cream. Thicken it a little bit with a roux (equal parts of butter and flour). Then make German Spaetzle and add them to the soup... this one is a little time consuming... But watch out, it will leave you wanting more.
5. Portuguese Sausage, Kale and Bean... A Portuguese favorite; to the broth, add large chunk chicken, browned sausage, previously cooked white navy beans, One head of washed chopped kale, one can of diced tomatoes and a bit of oregano.
Of course with all soups, season with your favorite blend of salt, pepper, garlic, parsley or chives. They will enhance all of the above.
Now go and enjoy our first Lancaster County Snow this year with a warm pot of Chicken Soup on the Stove!