Chicken Soup Theory
During today’s walk/jog (ok, mostly walk) I was thinking about Chicken Soup.
I see three distinct styles–brown-stock style, stock style and broth style.
Carrabbas features a delicious brown stock version–they call it Mama “Mandol-somebody” soup; it merits consideration.
The dish seems to be built on a brown chicken stock style–i.e. bones roasted in oven with mire-poix of onion and carrots then liquid added to deglace and form the initial stock. this is then reduced, strained and you have a rich flavorful liquid. This is where it gets interesting; it seems to me, that they take the mire-poix and run it through a food mill and add it back to the stock to give it a texture and then add the spices. For the peppers, I like the “heat” structure; most of the pepper comes from white peppers to provide a “level” heat and then black peppers give it a “peppery” heat and then (I think it has red pepper in it, but my memory may be wrong) crushed red pepper for the hi-end heat that makes you want to put a cooks towel around your neck .
When I put my theory on the dish to the test, it came out very close–I was definitely off on the ratios of carrots and onion in the ground up mire-poix, my texture was too much and–while very good–it left me wondering about my interpretation. Do they use mire-poix? Or do they saute up some veggies on the side? Is the chicken in the soup the same chicken they browned in the oven?
Lenny’s is a jewish diner in Clearwater Fla, on US 19 between Drew St. and Hwy60–right next to the Phillies spring training complex. Oy! When I am in the area, I frequent the place and Lorraine usually starts me out with a bowl of matzo ball/chicken noodle soup (I have had it at 6 am!) Lenny’s uses the “light broth” style of soup–and I really enjoy this one as well. A broth, as distinct from a stock, is made by simmering/boiling the meat of an animal as opposed to its bones. With a stock, you get something with more “gumption” and with a broth you get something more “vanilla” anyway, its good. So lets talk soup. To me, it seems they start with a broth
and add pre-cooked chicken, and raw celery, carrots and onion and let this simmer–well, til its eaten (: The textures and flavors in this dish are very different than the approach I outlined above and they are delicious in their own right. Some important things to think about this dish are that noodles should be kept separate from the soup until serving as well as matzo balls–you don’t want them disintegrating as the day goes on (as I have seen many a lesser restaurant do)
The third style is typified by the leftovers simmering as I write this. Here a standard stock is used instead of a brown stock or broth; this stock is made by simply boiling a chicken with bones without browning in the oven first. However, I modify this by making a rich stock; this is easy to do, start with a stock and freeze it. Then, the next time you make stock, don’t start with water, start with the batch of stock you made before. The result is a very rich base for soup. Also, instead of the just adding raw vegetables to a broth and letting them simmer with it, I render chicken fat that I scraped off the last batch of stock and wilt a portion of the vegetables in the fat, then add liquid and then finish with more vegetables–this gives different levels of flavor.
Anyway, theres the starting points that I have seen so far for making Chicken Soup.
(And, no, I don’t consider gumbo a soup—gumbo is a whole different thing–don’t get me started! (: )