I'm finally doing this perennial favorite, after already having completed its two variations, Matzo Ball Soup and Chicken Soup with Spring Vegetables. Based on the variations, I have high hopes for the original....
It's just Tracy and me tonight, reminiscing about our dreamy trip to Spain last month.
Chicken Soup (p. )
This soup is the best example of what I think is so brilliant about Martha's soup technique. Instead of the ancient (Jewish?) tradition of throwing everything in a pot, cooking it all to death, and then just serving it, Martha's version involves more ingredients and more dirty dishes and utensils, but it's so worth it.
In a nutshell, you bring chicken, herbs, and coarsely chopped vegetables to a boil, then simmer. Once the chicken is cooked (in my case roughly - minutes), take it out, remove meat from the bones and put bones back in the stock. (Chicken goes in the fridge until ready to use.) Simmer for another hour, then strain into a clean pot and skim fat.. Put all NEW vegetables in and cook until tender. (I actually like mine with a little crunch.) Then add chicken back in and heat through.
What you end up with is this amazingly bright, almost sweet stock with amazingly bright, almost sweet vegetables and perfectly cooked chicken floating in it. There's no mushy, overcooked carrots, no soggy or falling apart chicken pieces. It's just sparkly and fresh-tasting, delicious and nutritious. We were in soup heaven.
Extra Credit :
Caramelized [Bananas] (p. )
There's no recipe for Caramelized Bananas in the book, but there is a little lecture about caramelizing fruit (before the Caramelized Figs recipe). I've made the figs about ten times now, so I thought I'd branch out and try something new.
I followed the recipe for the figs exactly, substituting bananas as the fruit, and white rum as the deglazing liquid. As you can see, I did some experimental slicing to see what would work best. I sliced too thin, though, because the bananas got too soft by the time they browned and it all pretty much became mush. I think it I were going to do it again, I'd slice the bananas as inch-thick disks, so they might retain their shape.
I wondered whether or not to do the final lemon juice squirt, but I ultimately decided yes, and it was a good call. Bananas are so sweet, and then there's the added sugar, not to mention caramelization. So the sweetness definitely needs some mitigation. I think I'd also add more rum next time, maybe twice as much, for extra flavor. The little bit I used disappeared flavor-wise.
All told, it's really great. I mean, how could it be bad? Bananas, sugar, salt, rum, butter, lemon juice. Killer.
Until we eat again....