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Chicken Broth, Soup and Cookies 020

It’s one of those rare days in the desert – overcast, cold, damp. But because it is so rare, it feels wonderful instead of depressing, like I think it would be if you lived somewhere dark and damp most of the year. Or maybe not. What do I know? Maybe suffering under a spotlight sun 350 days a year would be enough to drive some mad. I’ve only ever lived in Texas and California, so I presume sunshine like others presume oxygen; I only notice it when it’s missing.

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But enough of my waxing philosophical about the weather. I really want to talk about chicken broth (this is a sentence I never thought I would write). Homemade chicken broth is the easiest, yet most rewarding, thing you will ever make. I promise. Really. There isn’t even a need for a recipe, just general guidelines. And time. The more, the better.

This morning, after my first run, I pulled a chicken carcass out of the freezer. Much to Tim’s dismay, my laundry room freezer is stuffed full of carcasses (That is the proper pluralification, people. I looked it up. Just ignore the word if you’re a professional grammarian. I’m not consciously trying to drive you crazy.). Every time we have any sort of dish involving roast chicken, which is often since I love roast chicken in about 100 things, I stash the leftover bird in the freezer. Then, about once a week, I throw it in a pot with some water, seasonings and vegetables and let it do it’s thing while I do my thing. Eight to twelve hours later, shazam!, chicken broth.

Okay, I know some of you are asking yourself, why in the world would I want to spend eight hours making anything when I can hop over to the store and just buy chicken broth? I understand you. I felt exactly the same way. That is, until I had soup with homemade chicken broth. You see, the difference between soup made with store-bought chicken broth (even the good stuff) and homemade is like the difference between PopTarts and your mom’s cherry pie (unless her pie bites, and then ignore this sentence). It’s not that there isn’t a time and a place for PopTarts (like while driving in your car when you’re late for a meeting) versus homemade pie, but if you have a choice, I would hope you would pick the homemade pie.

Now, on top of just the superior taste element of homemade broth, I could also go into the whole spiel about the health benefits of actual bone broth versus sodium/preservative/additive store-bought broth, but I won’t. From all the e-mails I get, I know y’all are a lot smarter than me. You probably eat a lot better than I do, too, so I’m not going to lecture you about how good broth is for you. But it is. Just so you know.

Anyway, I just wanted to wrap this up by telling those of you who have reached out to me about my running: Thank you so much for caring. I took two months off and feel much better. I always forget how exhausted I am by the end of the year. I’m like the little kid who keeps wailing, “But I don’t need a nap! I’m not tired! I just want to play!” right before she falls asleep on the living room floor. I was tired and disappointed in my performances, but I didn’t want to admit it. I hate working super hard and then failing.

But, I’m training again, have a few races on the horizon, and am back in the kitchen. The long nap (and white wine and cake) helped and I’m ready to go back out and play.

Love you guys! Thanks for reading!

 

Homemade Chicken Broth

Really, there isn’t much more to tell y’all. Just take your leftover whole chicken carcass, throw it in a big pot of water (enough to fully cover the bird), add a chopped onion, a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, some garlic, thyme, bay leaves, a tablespoon of white vinegar, salt and pepper and let it simmer for as long as you have time. I let it go for at least 6 hours (the longer you let it simmer, the more of the “bone broth” benefits you will get). If you aren’t going to around most of the day, do it in a crock pot – it all works!

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When it’s done, just strain the liquid and toss the solids. Use the broth just like you would any other broth. It really will make a difference in your food, especially soups and stews. As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, I used mine for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – super easy and delicious!

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It has finally gotten cold in the desert, so I must admit, I’m spending more time running indoors. Like 15 of my 20 per day miles, indoors. Like I’m having to take Vitamin D supplements in one of the sunniest places in the country, indoors.

Yes, I am a big fat baby.

But since I’m not training for anything, I just can’t get motivated to put on gloves and a hat and all those extra layers, without which I spend the whole run whining about how cold it is. Instead, I can get on my treadmill, put on the Great British Bake Off, and watch all those incredibly lovely and polite Brits turn regular “sponge” into peacocks, and meringue into Her Majesty’s crown. Now really, doesn’t that sound more entertaining than frostbite?

Since I’m indoors most of the day, I’ve taken to cooking up big pots of soups and stews – things that need to be left to their own devices for a long time to work their magic. Tim, over the last 10 days, has been the very gracious consumer of Baked Potato Cheese Soup, Steak Soup, Chicken and Rice Soup, Texas Chili and last night, Corn and Cheddar Chowder. He hasn’t even given a hint of, “What the heck is she doing?! How much soup can a man eat?” Nope. He’s been very pleasant about the whole thing (maybe because he’s afraid of some sort of soup/stew coup). Anyway, lately, there is always some sort of pot on the stove, just like in the Wicked Witch’s gingerbread house. When I’m in, I go all in, My Pretty.

This Corn and Cheddar Chowder is really just a result of needing to make something different without actually making something different. Know what I mean? I’m not a huge fan of corn chowder because it is too sweet (remember my weird thing about non-dessert sweet foods?). I really wanted a creamy soup, something I hadn’t made in awhile (which ruled out Cream of Asparagus, Potato, and Cauliflower). I went to the store and saw the last of the fresh corn.

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Ehhh…Corn Chowder kind of sounded good, but I wasn’t just dying for it. Then I thought, what if I figured out how to “savory it up” (that’s cooking talk, y’all)?

And this recipe is what happened. I’m now a huge fan of Corn Chowder, especially when it has two cups of cheddar cheese and two cups of half and half. Seriously. How could that ever be bad?

P.S. I realize I have mixed witch references from Shakespeare, Grimm and The Wizard of Oz above, but as long as I’ve conjured an image of a crazy-bat witch hovering over a steaming cauldron, my work here is done.

 

Corn and Cheddar Chowder

3 strips of bacon, cut into bite size pieces

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 bell peppers (I used orange and green, but your choice)

4 ears of corn, kernels cut off

2 tablespoons AP flour

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups half and half

Salt and Pepper

 

In a large stew pot or dutch oven, brown up the bacon over medium high heat. Get it nice and crispy so it doesn’t go limp in the soup.

Add the butter. After it has melted, add the chopped onions. Cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped bell peppers. Cook another 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are softened.

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Add the corn kernels and cook for another 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

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Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for one minute.

Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for 10 minutes so the soup thickens.

Add half and half and cheddar cheese. Stir well and let simmer, making sure all the cheese is melted and incorporated.

This soup can simmer on very low for awhile as long as you keep stirring it periodically so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom. It will continue to thicken, though, so I turn off the heat and let it hang out on the stove (for up to an hour) until I’m ready to serve it.

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