It’s soup weather here! There is nothing I know that warms you better than a big, hot bowl of soup. In addition, eating soup is known to help to drop those holiday pounds. See this article.
I haven't made chicken soup in a long while and, usually, I always turn to my tried-and-true chicken soup recipe with my mother's potato dumplings. When I saw this recipe in Stir by Barbara Lynch, I felt I needed to depart from tradition. So far, I have loved everything I've made from this cookbook!
The three things that intrigued me the most about this recipe was the initial searing of the chicken in the soup pot to create those delicious browned bits to flavor the broth. Also, this chicken and vegetable soup starts out with the usual vegetable trio of celery, carrot and onion but those are strained out and then broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are added and cooked in the stock. Third, and most unusual, is the caraway gnocchi.
I know caraway is one of those 'love it' or 'hate it' herbs, but if you love rye bread with caraway or cheese with caraway, you'll love these gnocchi! Caraway is similar in taste to anise, fennel and cumin. The caraway seeds are first toasted and then pulverized. If you don't like caraway, you could start with half the recommended amount or even omit it all together. The soup would still be wonderful with plain gnocchi which you could buy already made in the pasta section of your grocery store.
The soup has a sort of Old World taste to it with the cruciferous vegetables and boldly flavored gnocchi. These types of vegetables are vitamin-packed!
Chicken Vegetable Soup with Caraway GnocchiAdapted from Stir by Barbara Lynch
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, about 2 pounds (I prefer thighs because they don’t get dry but you can use bone-in breasts if you prefer – just cut them into thigh-sized pieces)
2 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 fresh parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups no-sodium chicken stock
4 cups cold water
1-1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage (I used Savoy)
1 cup tiny broccoli florets (about ½ inch wide)
1 cup tiny cauliflower florets (about ½ inch wide)
Caraway Gnocchi, freshly made or frozen (recipe follows)
Celery or Parsley leaves for Garnish
Fleur de sel
Do ahead tips: While the chicken is cooking in the soup (paragraph two), prepare the gnocchi but do not boil them. You could also make the gnocchi the day or even week ahead and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. The soup can be prepared up to the point of adding the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, a day ahead.
In a large, heavy pot big enough to hold the chicken with some room around the pieces, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the chicken and sear on one side, until it’s quite brown. Turn the chicken and continue to brown it all over. This will take about 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot and put it on a rimmed baking sheet to catch the juices. Add the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Return the chicken and collected juices to the pot and add the stock and water. Cook over medium-low heat until the meat pulls easily off the bone, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a clean baking sheet. Pass the soup through a strainer into a large saucepan, using a ladle to press the juice out of the solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones. Remove all of the meat and shred it with your fingers into bite-sized pieces.
If possible, chill the stock first so you can skim off the fat from the surface.
Heat the soup to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken pieces.
Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float to the top and are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and place into the pot of soup or divide among serving bowls and ladle the soup over the top.
Caraway GnocchiMakes about 100
1 pound starchy potatoes, such as russet, whole and unpeeled
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 large egg
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Toast the caraway seeds over medium heat in a small, dry skillet until fragrant, about 3 minutes or toast them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 3 minutes. Let cool and crush in a coffee/seed grinder, with a mortar and pestle or with the bottom of a heavy skillet.
Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted cold water and cook until very tender, about 30 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and allow to cool just until you’re able to handle them. Peel while still very warm. Put them through a ricer into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
Have a parchment-lined, lightly floured baking sheet ready that will fit into your refrigerator or freezer.
Dump the cooled potatoes onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle with ¾ cup of flour over the potatoes and gently mix it into them using your fingers. Carefully gather the potatoes into a mound and create a well in the center. Whisk the egg and salt in a small bowl and pour into the well. Mix by kneading the dough and sprinkle with more flour, if necessary (up to ¼ cup), just until it forms a ball and feels delicate and still a little bit sticky. Sprinkle the crushed caraway seeds over the dough and knead them in, adding a little more flour, if necessary. It should feel soft and pliable. Gather the dough and place back in the bowl while you clean off the work surface of any sticky bits.
Sprinkle the work surface lightly with flour and roll the dough out with a rolling until to about ½-inch thick. Use a bench scraper or knife and cut the dough into strips about ½ to ¾-inch wide. Roll each strip into a log and then cut the logs into ¾-inch pieces. Place the gnocchi on the prepared baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch. If you are not boiling them right away, either freeze or refrigerate covered with parchment paper until ready to use. If freezing, after they are hard, place in airtight bags or containers.