Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gluten-Free Soup's On, Part 2

We have a big Giants fan in our house, too, so Sunday was also a happy day for him!  Kendall wrote about her family's Giants celebration in the previous blog entry.

But I was mostly inspired by Kendall's soup description to share my own version of homemade soup here. It's a favorite meal for our whole family.

I cooked up a pot while my children were home from college and graduate school for the holidays. (Alas, they have gone back now and the house seems emptier).

I start with a chicken (yes, a whole chicken) put in it pot covered with water and simmer it for a long time - several hours during which the house has a homey smell not reproducible by Glade or Yankee Candle.

When it's done I remove the meat, strain the soup through a very fine strainer, return it to the pot, throw in carrots, a whole onion, and celery and let it simmer again until the veggies are tender. I also add some seasoning and a little salt.

To serve, in individual soup bowls I add the chicken (which I clean and cut up), cooked pasta (gluten free or not depending on choice) or cooked rice (brown or white). I make everything in big batches so there is plenty for seconds or for lunch and/or dinner the next day.

There is really not a lot of work because simmering on the stove is the bulk of the cooking. The rice and pasta are easy to make and set aside. They don't even have to be hot as the hot soup in each bowl warms them really fast. (I never put the pasta or rice in the soup pot. If I am using rice or pasta that has been refrigerated, I warm it a bit in the microwave before putting it in the bowl and let the hot soup do the rest of the work.)

It's a great time of year for soup. For readers who don't have the time or inclination to make soup from scratch, our next issue will have a story with details on the ready-made gluten-free soups and soup mixes that are increasingly available.

No matter how you prepare it, from scratch, partially from scratch or from a carton or can, this is the perfect time of year to say, "Soup's on."

Amy Ratner

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cozy Sunday Supper

Yesterday was a great day in our household! The Giant’s won an amazing football game and the house smelled delicious as dinner simmered on the burner.

I had made a huge pot of chicken noodle soup and the aroma added to the cozy feeling of sitting around the TV watching a game on a cold afternoon. My chicken soup is a semi-homemade, cheater’s special. It’s really all about shopping for the high quality, prepared, gluten-free ingredients and throwing them all together in a pot.

Many stores do all the vegetable chopping for the consumer and sell a ready to go “mirepoix.” A mirepoix is the combination of carrot, onion and celery that form the base of the stock. I got a nice carmelization going as I softened them with a little olive oil and then added gluten-free chicken broth. Two of my kids tend to pick out the vegetables if I leave them in chunks. I scooped the vegetables out, put them in my blender with a little stock, hit puree, and then add it right back in to my soup.

I also added some organic thyme that I had dried from my summer CSA share, a little salt and a lot of pepper. I cheated again and chopped up the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken that I picked up and simmered the soup on low for hours.

I had found a box of Schar pasta shaped like little O’s and I added those just a few minutes before serving to cook and plump up. They were the perfect addition to my soup and the noodle held up well as it sat there before we had seconds.

I had purchased rolls and cold cuts for sandwiches to accompany the soup, so our Sunday supper was complete.

What I love is that I no longer have to make two batches of everything anymore. I used to do a noodle soup and a rice soup because 15 years ago, I did not have a gluten-free pasta option that held up in a soup. Now, there are more product options than ever before and there is always a gluten-free solution to a dish.

The Giants play the late game again next week, so I am thinking about a crock pot of meatballs and sausage that can simmer away and make the house smell good! Another cozy supper and hopefully another win to take them to the Superbowl!

Kendall Egan