You guys!! I have figured out how to make what I think is the best soup in the world! I am pretty sure that we have talked about this soup and where it comes from but just in case; there is a restaurant here that does mystery dinners, you get to dress up as your assigned character and act out the story while having a cocktail or two and a four course meal! It is so fun! Anyway the dinner is this scrumtious soup, a delightful salad, chicken with rice and seasonal veggies and dessert. I have been trying for ages to recreate this soup and I have finally mastered it! The trick is the broth. The better the broth the better the soup! I really should have known this…
I had started making chicken broth a new way because of the grocery rationing and the extra time on my hands. I have been shopping early so I get a couple of the first batches of rotisserie chicken and let them cool until all of the juices and yum in the bottom of the container solidifies into jelly. This part of waiting for it to gel is important for flavor purposes, if you just dump the chicken and juice into the stock pot the flavors in the juice doesn’t have time to get sexy and extra seasonings will need to be added. I have also stopped adding any veg to the pot and started sacrificing the meat. I saved the meat from the first batch of this experiment and it is in the freezer but freezer space is at a premium so I had to start sharing the meat with the kids and the soup gods. Yes, I have about 6 gallons of chicken stock in the freezer, so much that I had to buy more freezer containers to store it.
The stock! In my biggest stock pot, which is about 6 gallons, I put 2 chickens and the container jelly, 4 tablespoons of granulated chicken bullion, 2 tablespoons of coarse sea salt and about a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns along with about 5 1/2 gallons of water and let it simmer for about 36 hours until it was down to about 3 gallons before I tasted it. It had great flavor but it was a bit salty so I added another 1 1/2 gallons of water and brought it up to a boil for 10 or so minutes before reducing the heat back to low and letting it simmer for a couple of hours before tasting again. The second tasting was brilliant so I let it keep simmering for about 14 more hours.
I let the stock cool down for several hours so that I could handle it without getting tragic burns. I first poured it into my regular colander so that I could get all the big chunks separated out before I poured it thru my mesh strainer to catch all the little bits of peppercorn and stray bits of meat and whatever else made it past the colander. I have discovered that this second stage of filtering creates a better product for freezing. Did I mention that I have been making pots of stock every week for about a month now?? I have made so much that I know exactly what time my store puts out the first round and I have figured out that the kind that comes in the plastic bag takes longer to cool and make the gel and it is more difficult to get said gel out of all of the little folds in the bag.
I am not sure that I can technically call this twice strained broth clarified because after straining it should be heated again and poured over cheesecloth but I don’t have quite that much time on my hands so I stopped with the 2 strains.
Now that I have broth I can carry on with my soup! This time I went with four of the small cans of diced green chilies and dumped them liquid and all into a sautee pan with a pinch of salt, granulated garlic and black pepper and let them simmer over medium low heat until the liquid was cooked out and they were starting to brown before I added a tablespoon of butter and reduced the heat to low and let that butter cook out, I did this for 3 tablespoons of butter with a bit of time in between so that the chilies could get a little bit browned and sexy but not long enough for the bits of butter to brown. Browned butter has it’s own flavor and it doesn’t belong in this dish, this is also why I was cooking over low heat.
Let the chilies cook while you do all of the dishes that cooking and separating the broth creates and get the broth into freezer containers except for 6 or 7 cups that will go in this soup.
Now that the dishes are caught up and the chilies are sexy, put them, the chilies not the dishes, into a soup pot with 4 cups of stock and let it come up to a simmer over medium low heat for about 15 minutes before you give her a taste. I had started with only 3 cups of stock and and after simmering the flavor was a bit too pronounced so I added one more cup and let it go for another 10 minutes. This stage of chilies and stock is where the flavor of the soup is set, the next step is adding the half and half plus a pinch of salt and that locks the flavor in so you have to get it where you want it before that happens.
When you have the flavor of the soup base where you want it break out the immersion blender and blend until it’s completely smooth and slightly creamy, this will take longer than you think but that is OK as you can’t really over blend it. If you only have a stand up blender or food processor that is OK, the only difference is that you will want to let your mix cool off a bit because the steam will expand and blow the lid off or explode out of the feeder tube and make a huge mess. Once your base is silky and sexy add 2 cups of half and half and a pinch of salt and blend again just until the cream is incorporated and let it come back up to a simmer. If you don’t have half and half you can substitute milk but you will want to use half as much and if you only have heavy cream then you will want to only use 3 cups of stock to make the base and 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 pinches of salt and maybe a bit of pepper as heavy cream is sweeter than the others. After the final mix of base and half and half has come back to a simmer for a few minutes it will be ready to serve!
Here is a rough recipe:
- 4 small cans of diced chilies
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 2 cups half and half
- 3 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper
Sautee the chilies first in their own juice then in the butter with a pinch of salt and pepper. After the chilies are lightly browned transfer then to a soup pot with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer before blending until smooth and creamy. Add the half and half and an additional pinch of salt and bring to a simmer.
You could use vegetable stock instead of chicken to make this vegetarian, you could add tofu to the chilies and not blend it if you wanted a chunkier version, you could not blend it fully and have bits of the chilies in the soup, you could top the soup with some chilies that you cook down or leave them raw or tortilla strips. You could add some of the chicken to make it a heartier soup, you could add fresh tomato, cilantro, you could even use this soup as an enchilada sauce! Yes, I did that and I will tell you all about it in the next post titled Enchiladas Gone Wrong.
Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!