Chicken Soup-- Comfort Style
Half a chicken, cut up (including gizzards and things. Use one with a lot of fat, preferably free range.)
Quart of chicken broth
One large onion, minced
Three or four large carrots, julienned
1 1/2 cups sauvignon blanc
Tarragon (about a tablespoon)
2 Bay Leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil or ghee, to cook the onions and brown the chicken.
I usually use my five quart saucepan for the whole operation.
Mince the onion and saute it in two tablespoons of olive oil or ghee until it's clear. Place the cooked onion in a bowl and keep it handy.
Add a little more olive oil or ghee. Brown the cut-up chicken until the skin on the pieces is golden brown. This will have to be done a few pieces at a time. (The pan will need to be hot-- and the chicken skin patted dry with a paper towel to get a good brown on it.)
Once the chicken is browned, add the chicken broth, the browned chicken, the cooked onion, the carrots and celery, the tarragon, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add the wine last. Leave the heat on high until the mixture boils, then turn it down to medium. You can skim off the foam at this point.
Cook for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the chicken is cooked and falling off the bone. Turn off the heat and remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Remove the skin and debone the chicken. (I save the skin to add to my dog's chow for a treat.)
Shred the meat and toss it back into the soup. By this time, a lot of water has cooked off, so add back water to raise the soup to its original level.
Put the soup back on to simmer.
Here's where you have choices. What I usually do is turn off the soup, set some aside and store the rest in one- or two-person servings in the freezer until needed. By this time I will have made the hand-rolled egg noodles (made in advance and stored) and added some extra flour to thicken the broth. You can also add dumplings, rice, or store bought noodles.
Noodles Longtin style are made by starting with one cup of flour and adding one egg, one-half an eggshell of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every two servings. You mix the eggs into the flour (with a fork at first, and then as the mixture thickens and gets less sticky, with your clean hands.) You add flour until the flour mixture is not sticky and the dough is soft and pliable. The dough is rolled out on a clean counter (I had a butcher block counter installed in my kitchen for this.) Place a lot of flour underneath the noodles so they don't stick to the counter. Keep checking as you roll. It's good workout if done correctly.
The noodles are rolled as thin as you can get them, then covered with tea towels and allowed to dry. This takes about four to six hours in Torrance, California, but I imagine it might be less in, say, Albuquerque. After they dry, cut them into 1" squares. Don't bother to be precise. The organic feel of the various sized homemade noodes is half the fun. When you put them in the soup (which is brought to a simmer) stir them in with a lot of the flour still clinging to them. They're cooked when they swell back up and the broth thickens. I store my leftover noodles in the fridge in zip lock bags until I make soup again.
Pairs Well With
This is a family recipe my Aunt Rosie taught me. The Longtin family comfort food version of this soup is called "noodles" and has dozens of hand-rolled egg noodles with extra flour thrown in to thicken the broth. The chicken is removed (instead of removed, deboned, shredded and tossed back in, the way I do it now. Aunt Rosie saves it to make tacos.) My favorite memory of this soup is Aunt Rosie sneaking a pot into my dad during his recovery from heart surgery at Loma Linda Hospital (Seventh Day Adventist-- vegetarian hospital.) That, and getting to hand-roll the noodles as a pre-teen at Thanksgiving back in the early seventies.