Taking the chill off winter for me starts with homemade chicken stock to use as a base for a couple of simple soups. One of my favorite basic soups starts with simmering the stock with julienne of fresh ginger to flavor the broth then adding blanched winter greens, seasoning and that’s it. Another favorite is avgolemono, a classic Greek soup, generally made with rice, which I adapted to substitute orzo which is toasted ahead, cooked in the broth then tempered with a lemon–egg mixture. Just thinking of these soups is indeed a remedy for the chill of winter—and delicious too!
If you are intimidated by the idea of making a basic chicken stock think of it this way. The carcass and bones from a roasted chicken, whether home roasted or store bought is the beginning. Place it into a large pasta pot with a carrot, a rib of celery or two, a couple of parsley or thyme sprigs, that are lingering in your fridge vegetable draw, a few peppercorns and an onion stuck with a couple of cloves; cover with cold tap water then simmer slowly for two to three hours to obtain a rich, savory liquid and drain. This basic ingredient in the collective world of seasoning is the foundation for many a fine soup. Home cooked soups are easy to prepare and one of the few foods that freeze successfully.
Ginger Soup With Greens
This Chinese-style soup is remarkably simple to prepare. Just simmer your homemade stock with lots of fresh ginger; add partially cooked greens and serve.
Makes 8 servings
1 large bunch fresh winter greens such as mustard greens, Swiss chard or escarole.
8 cups home-made or low-sodium chicken stock
3 to 4 tablespoons julienne of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1. Trim and thoroughly wash greens, discarding any bruised leaves.
2. In a large saucepan bring several quarts of water to the boil. Add greens and cook about 3 minutes, until tender. If using Swiss chard cut leaves away from stems and cook separately until greens and/or stems are tender. Drain greens and quickly rinse under a spray of cool water to stop the cooking. Spread on a dry kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture. Cut leaves into halves or thirds.
3. Combine stock and ginger in a large saucepan, bring to the edge of a boil and allow to simmer 15 to 20 minutes. By that time the broth will be nicely flavored with ginger. Season with salt and pepper taste. Add the prepared greens, cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer and serve hot.
To Prepare Ahead: Follow steps 1 and 2 several hours ahead. Complete step 3 just before serving.
Reprinted from Silvia’s new e-book, The Simple Art of Cooking.
This classic Greek lemon soup has the surprise taste of mint. To heighten the flavor of the soup, toast orzo ahead until a light brown color.
Serves 4 to 6
4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup uncooked Greek orzo, toasted*
1 rib celery, trimmed, rinsed and sliced thin
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 to 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh-snipped mint leaves
1. In a saucepan bring stock to a boil; add toasted orzo and celery and cook, covered, over medium heat, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add diced chicken and simmer 8 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and taste to be sure orzo is tender.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add lemon juice and stir to mix. Temper the mixture by adding a ladleful or two of the hot soup to egg mixture and stir to mix. In a slow, steady stream, return egg mixture to saucepan, whisking soup constantly over low heat. Continue to whisk soup and heat just to the edge of a boil. Do no allow the soup to boil or the eggs will curdle. Serve hot in warm bowls, garnished with a touch of mint.
*To toast orzo—spread the full package of orzo in a jellyroll pan and place in a 375°F oven. Toast for 10 minutes to color slightly; remove pan from oven and redistribute orzo. Return orzo to oven for 5 to 6 minutes to color more evenly. Use quantity as indicated in recipe and store remaining toasted orzo in a glass screw-top jar
Above recipe adapted from Silvia Lehrer’s Cooking at Cooktique, Doubleday.
Visit Silvia’s website at www.savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.