Winter Daze…

I managed to make it through the majority of this blizzard smothered winter without much illness, but this past week was unfortunately a haze of the infamous semi-cold (a cold that isn’t severe enough to reasonably call out of work but severe enough to feel like you’re only half alive by 5:30pm). In addition, unfortunately, due to my crazy obsessive love of traveling and current time-consuming job hunt…sick days really don’t get utilized for “sickness” very much. The other downfall of sick-Sara is a dampened enthusiasm for meal planning. Laziness has ensued…I got my breakfast from Starbucks because it was 10 feet closer to my office door than the bargain bagel stand, despite it’s inflated prices and my crying bank account. I didn’t grind my own coffee beans (coffee is very important to me…it should really be important to everybody but I don’t like for force my views on others) but opted for the year-old instant coffee sample pack I dug out from the dark corners of my spice cabinet.

By Wednesday, I knew I had to snap out of it. Malaysian dinner delivery and pre-made quiche from the deli could only go on so long. I had to stop living on my couch between 6pm and whenever I crawled into my bed-cave like a lost child. I do love to cook, and it’s oddly soothing for me, so through my aching muscles and pounding sinuses, I settled on chicken soup (I’m sick, that’s reasonable?)

I’ve actually only made soup one other time in my life. It was about a month ago for my girlfriend’s and my anniversary, when I managed to finagle a 5-course dinner with wine pairing which took several weeks to plan out seamlessly. Course #2 was spicy chicken soup with cream, but I honestly thought it came out terrible (my girlfriend said she liked it, but would she lie to me? Maybe? Jury is still out…).  I whipped it up too quickly and didn’t give it the time it deserved. Maybe this is because I don’t eat soup much on my own time, so I don’t have any “natural instincts” when it comes to throwing it together. I was happier with the result this time around though…

Lemon-y Chicken Soup with Parsley and Romano Cheese, and Toasted Baguette with Balsamic:

Serves 3 (or 2 + the dishwasher, if you’re like me and forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge…)

Soup:

-3 cans of chicken broth (or make your own! I will be this ambitious some day)

-Poultry seasoning

-Dill (I used dried)

-Fresh minced garlic (few tablespoons…?)

-Finely chopped yellow onion (about half to ¾ of the onion)

-Celery, chopped

-Carrots, chopped

-1 large lemon, juiced

-Fresh parsley

-Salt to taste

-Small block of Romano cheese, grated to about ½ to 1 cup

-Cooked chicken, preferably rotisserie or bone-in chicken (I used leftover rotisserie because I was operated at half-capacity). Break off pieces of chicken into small shreds, about 1-2 cups, set aside. Use chunks of whole chicken with bones/skin to cook with the soup for flavor.

Baguette:

-Fresh baguette (mmmmmmmm)

-Butter

-Balsamic glaze or good balsamic vinegar

To cook:

In a large pot, heat olive oil or butter until hot, and add chopped garlic and onions. Cook for several minutes until the onions begin to change color and everything is fragrant. Add the chicken broth, carrots, celery, dill, poultry seasoning, chunks of chicken on the bone/skin (not the small shreds, those are for later), lemon, salt. Bring soup to a boil, uncovered, and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 30/40 minutes (taste it around 30, if the flavor isn’t strong enough, salt and keep cooking). Once the flavor is there, take out the chunks of chicken and all bones/skin (I figured it would be a little too dried out to eat by now, and was really there to seep juicy flavor), drop in the shredded chicken and grated Romano cheese. Continue cooking for a few minutes, until the cheese melts and the chicken is warm. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, cook for another 30 seconds.

When you have a few minutes left with the soup, turn on your oven broiler or toaster oven. Slice the baguette and spread with butter and balsamic. Toast pieces until crispy and awesome.

Serve soup in small bowls and dip pieces of baguette as you eat. Yayy! This time…it worked out a lot better than my spicy soup anniversary hot mess. The cheese gave it a subtle tangy swirl and thickened it slightly. The lemon was almost undetectable in the end, but it complimented the parsley, dill and cheese just enough to make it different than a run-of-the-mill chicken. The balsamic on the baguette? I just needed a reason to use balsamic, because I have a problem…

soup

Hopefully this weekend’s spring weather won’t let me down. I’m more than ready to be back on top of my game, and perhaps actually do something with my evenings besides watch Friends re-runs and singing competitions. Spring means we’re that much closer to street fairs, food festivals full of interesting start-ups…day-beers in Williamsburg? Wine bars setting up their outdoor tables?? THE SUN?!?!?

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