Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

The soup place I used to work at had a couple of varieties that they offered every day. Chicken Pot Pie Soup was one of them and it was outstanding! Thick and rib-sticky, with a topping of pie-crust crumbles to really make it feel indulgent. This is an approximation of that soup with a few more vegetables thrown in for good measure. Leave out noodles and add 2-3 diced potatoes and this could work as pot-pie filling.

2 T olive oil
5 T butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
75 g all-purpose flour
1.5 L chicken stock
300-400 g shredded cooked chicken
1 t Brathähnchengewürz (rotisserie chicken seasoning; poultry seasoning should work here)
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t tarragon
200 mL boiling water
250 g (1/2 lb) short noodles
200 g frozen peas
50-75 mL cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add 2 T butter, heat until starting to foam, then add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender and fragrant. Add 2-3 more T butter and cook until butter is deep golden and nutty smelling, then sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture. Lower heat to medium, stir until all flour is incorporated and roux no longer smells raw. Whisk in chicken broth in gradual additions to avoid lumps (3-4 will probably do). Add chicken, poultry seasoning, thyme and tarragon and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 6-8 minutes.

Turn heat back up and add boiling water. When boil is steady, add noodles and cook until about 2 minutes short of done. Add peas for final 2 minutes of noodle cook time. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Adjust seasonings and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Ginger-Lime Chicken w/Bok Choy

I am sort of ashamed to admit this, but here goes:

I read Buzzfeed.

I know, I know. I’m working on it. That said, sometimes you find useful information there, like this recipe (under Day 1 in the list). The original is a good idea at its core, but it needed more flavor. So after a few tweaks, I think I got the flavors where I want them, while staying true to the concept. It probably doesn’t stay under the $10 that the article claims, but that’s probably a function of different availability of ingredients in Germany (bok choy is a little more exotic here). Click the link for the original, as I’m posting what I did.

Juice of two limes (about 1/4 c)
2 T olive oil, plus more for cooking
salt and white pepper to taste
1 lb (500 g) chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 in (5 cm) ginger, minced or julienned
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 bunches (about 10) green onions, sliced
5 small heads bok choy, sliced and rinsed well

Combine lime juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and chicken pieces in a large Ziploc bag or lidded container, tossing chicken to coat all sides. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Heat one T olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high. Remove chicken from marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving liquid, and cook until just browned. Set cooked chicken aside in a bowl, add a little more oil to skillet, and quickly sauté ginger, garlic and green onion until just tender. Add bok choy and toss well to coat with oil. Add remaining marinade (it will boil almost immediately), season vegetables with a little salt and pepper and stir well. Cook vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until thick pices of bok choy start to get a little tender. Add chicken and its collected juices back in to finish cooking through and cover for at least 3 minutes. Serve over brown rice (it’s fine over white, but the flavor really pops with brown).

General Tso’s Chicken

A favorite of American and Canadian Chinese restaurants, General Tso’s chicken isn’t actually Chinese. But it is awfully tasty. I’ve been looking around for copycat recipes for a long time before actually attempting one. This one was the jumping off point for my crack at the dish. My version is below.

Sauce
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c white wine or sherry
2 c chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 in ginger, peeled and minced

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 egg, beaten
3 T soy sauce
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4-1/2 c oil for frying (1/2 inch deep in skillet)
1 small bunch (about 8) green onions, sliced
2-3 red Thai chilies, sliced (remove seeds to decrease heat)

To prepare sauce, put all ingredients into a large jar with a leakproof lid. BE CERTAIN to put the cornstarch somewhere in the middle, preferably between two layers of liquid. If you put it on the bottom or top of the ingredients, it won’t fully integrate and you’ll be choking down starch lumps. After all ingredients are in the jar, seal it and shake it until completely blended. Set aside.

Heat the oil to medium high. Combine the beaten egg with the soy sauce. Put the cornstarch in a large Ziploc. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg first, then drop several coated chicken pieces into the cornstarch bag and shake vigorously. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess cornstarch and fry until golden and crispy, turning once (this is horrifically messy – sorry). Set cooked chicken aside to drain on paper towels.

In another deep skillet, heat one tablespoon oil to medium high. Quickly stir-fry green onion and chili for 30 seconds to one minute – just until green onion starts to become tender. Shake sauce mixture again and add to onion and chili, stirring frequently until thickened. Lower heat and add chicken to sauce, stirring until chicken is well coated and heated through. Serve over rice with steamed broccoli.

Variation

You can use this recipe as a template for a Spicy Peanut sauce. When preparing the sauce jar, reduce the sugar to one tablespoon and the vinegar to 1.5 tablespoons, then add 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Instead of just shaking the jar, whisk the contents until there are no large lumps of peanut butter. Continue preparing as usual.

Chicken Shawarma

Oh boy, a little bit of Dearborn right here in our German kitchen!

Pita bread
1kg or 2.2 lbs. boneless chicken without skin
1 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Garlic dip:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Rub spices and lemon juice into meat. Marinate 1-2 hours. Arrange meat in 2 layers in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 450 degrees until top is light brown, about 15-20 minutes. Turn chicken and brown other side.

For the garlic dip, mix all that stuff together.

Let chicken cool slightly. Cut in thin strips and return to pan with drippings. Mix well. Spread a piece of warm pita bread with a small amount of garlic dip. Add chopped chicken. Roll into a sandwich.

Accidental Chicken Madeira

I am really scatterbrained sometimes. I wanted to make something new with pasta and chicken, when I realized I had never tried to make chicken Marsala. I scrounged up a recipe, made my grocery list and went to the store, only to return with Madeira wine instead of the requisite Marsala. Of course, I didn’t discover that until I was about to pour it into my cup measure. I’m used to major miscalculations threatening my cooking, so I forged bravely ahead, altering the recipe with wild abandon. It turned out pretty great!

**Note: You can (probably) sub Marsala wine for the Madeira. But I wouldn’t know.**

1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 c Madeira wine
3/4 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream (optional)

**Note: If you want more sauce, just increase the liquids – but keep them at 1:1.**

Combine first four ingredients in a medium Ziploc bag. Put chicken in bag, seal and shake well until coated. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off extra flour.

Heat oil to medium high in a large, deep skillet. Add chicken to skillet, turning frequently, and do not reduce heat. When chicken is very lightly browned on all sides – about 3-4 minutes – add mushrooms and garlic to skillet. Keep the heat up and stir the mixture until the mushrooms have just started to brown (another 2-3 minutes), then add the wine and chicken broth.

Stirring occasionally, bring the liquid to a rapid boil. Keep on a high boil for a good 5-8 minutes. This allows the alcohol to cook off, so that the sauce doesn’t taste boozy. The sauce should thicken slightly from the dredging on the chicken, but you can add a slurry if you want it thicker. Cover the skillet with a vented lid, turn heat to medium low and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. If you’re using cream, add it right after taking the sauce off the heat and stir it in throughly. Serve over pasta.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Everyone has a brocco-cheese-chicken-rice casserole somewhere in their culinary arsenal. I think I found one that works for us. Rich, but very yummy. I found the base at allrecipes.com, but I’ve tweaked it enough to claim it as my own.

1 cup rice
2 cups broccoli florets (I used fresh, but frozen would work if thawed)
4 chicken breasts, cut into bitesize pieces
2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp tarragon
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Cook rice according to package directions. If using fresh broccoli, steam briefly (no more than 5 minutes). In a large bowl, combine broccoli and rice and set aside to cool.

2. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with garlic salt, pepper, tarragon and celery seed until lightly coated. On medium-high heat, cook chicken in oil until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Remove chicken from heat with a slotted spoon and add to rice and broccoli to cool. Cook mushrooms in the remaining oil for 2-4 minutes, then add to rice bowl to cool.

3. Combine mayo, mustard, curry and condensed soup in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour sauce and shredded cheese into large bowl of cooled ingredients and stir well. Spoon mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole and bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Chicken Enchilada Filling

This is completely invented. Anyone reading this more than likely knows of my Mexican food dependency. I especially love enchiladas filled with shredded chicken, but my attempts at this were always pretty bland. In a fit of pique, I threw together a sauce to combine with the shredded chicken and my trusty tester Cliff told me I had hit it out of the park. We like things pretty spicy, so adjust as needed to your own taste.

2 lbs chicken (I use skinless, boneless breasts, just because they’re easier to deal with)
1 onion, quartered
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
2-3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 T dried minced onion
1/2 tsp pepper sauce
1 small can tomato paste
2 small cans chopped mild green chiles

Put chicken, onion, carrot and celery in a large soup pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Remove chicken and set aside to cool, covered with a towel.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir well, adjusting seasonings to taste. After chicken cools, shred with two forks. Add sauce to chicken and stir until well distributed.

Chicken & Bowties

Over the past couple of years, about one out of every five times I’ve called my mom, she’s making chicken & bowties for dinner. I finally asked her this weekend for the recipe. We gave it a whirl last night and now I understand why she makes it so frequently. Thanks, Mom!

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 T olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 T sun-dried tomato pesto
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c white or rosé wine
1/2 lb farfalle, cooked

Heat olive oil to medium high in large deep skillet. Add chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes or until just golden. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add broccoli and cook for 5 minutes more.

Combine salt, pepper, pesto, basil, red pepper flakes and tomatoes in a small bowl. Add mixture to chicken and broccoli and stir until well distributed. Add liquids, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add cooked pasta and stir well.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This is great when you’ve been hanging around Germans for a while who claim to like spicy food. You can smile and nod and then go home and eat this and smugly chuckle to yourself with satisfaction.

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tsp. blackening seasoning
3 Tbs. butter
1 small green pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
4-8 drops pepper sauce (tabasco works, cholula’s better)
1/2 tsp. each basil and lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
8 oz. pasta of your choice, cooked and drained (we use linguine)

Place chicken, onion and blackening seasoning in bowl and turn to coat. Sauté chicken in butter 5-7 minutes. Add vegetables and cook 2-3 more minutes. Reduce heat, add cream, pepper sauce and seasonings. Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Add pasta and toss.

Chicken Soup

I’m not really sure how to define this. It started out with a disappointing chicken and dumplings recipe I found online. Then I thought, ‘I can come up with something better.’ I ended up thickening the soupy brothy part with some cornstarch and throwing in some instant German Semmelknödel (like a big dumpling make of StoveTop stuffing – better than it sounds). The recipe that follows is a basic, improvised chicken soup that probably improves with adaptation.

Chicken Stock
1 whole chicken (2.5-3 lbs.)
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, coarsely sliced
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
11/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf

Soup
2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
4-6 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4-8 cups chicken stock
4-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
chopped cooked chicken

Chicken Stock Prep

1. Put all ingredients in large deep pot and fill with water until completely covered. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to medium simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes.

2. Carefully remove chicken from stock (it should be falling-apart tender) and set aside in a large bowl, covering with a paper towel. Allow to sit for about 45 minutes-1 hour.

3. After allowing it to cool at least 30 minutes, slowly pour stock through cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer into a large bowl. Don’t keep the vegetables! They’ve given up all their flavor to the stock and turned to mush. Allow stock to cool more before skimming fat from top.

4. Remove meat from the chicken, discarding skin and bones. You can shred it or chop it into pieces – whichever you prefer, texturewise.

Still with me? Good!

Soup Prep

1. Melt butter in deep soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté onions in butter for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Add celery to pan and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage to onion and celery and stir until just distributed.

3. Pour stock into pot. For two of us, I use 4 cups – and that makes a lot. Add seasoned salt, pepper and carrots. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender. Turn heat to low and add chicken meat. Heat through.