Easy homemade soups
A pot of soup with chicken, fennel, carrots, parsnips and tomatoes is one of my favourite things in this world. Served with some homebaked bread makes it even better. There's no easier way to feed a lot of people than offering soup. You can put almost anything in it and using leftovers is just one way to go. Small amounts goes a long way in soups. That's what makes it so great.
Boil a whole chicken
Rinse the bird before you put it in a large pot, you want the water to cover the bird completely and you want to be able to fill up with water as it's simmering. Bring the water to a boil on high or medium high and cover with a lid until it starts to boil, then turn down the heat to keep it simmering. Skim when you can see foam and clogged blood forming on top of the water. Add salt, maybe some whole peppercorns and the spices you like when you've skimmed the broth, otherwise your spices will be skimmed off. Add vegetables if you want to. Carrot tops, parsnip tops, the leftover stem from the fennel and at least 1 onion is what I'll usually add. Don't use the peel, the top that you cut off after peeling the vegetables is better. Taste the broth after it has been boiling for at least 20-30 minutes. Add more salt, a couple of buillon cubes or more spices if needed. Let the bird simmer until the meat starts falling off the bones. You don't want any meat to be pink, it has to be cooked through in order to be safe. Take the bird out of the broth and put it aside until it's cold enough to handle. Strain the broth and let it cool off if you want to get the fat out. The fat will rise to the top and form a thick layer that you can remove before reheating. Pick all the meat off the bird and save for later, you'll add that at the end when you make the soup.
roast a whole chicken
Rinse the bird and put it on a piece of aluminum foil big enough to cover the bird and seal the ends on top to a package when you've added the spices you like. You want the liquids from the bird to stay in the package so be careful not to break the foil in the bottom.
Add any spices you'll like. Salt, pepper, chili, cayenne, garlic, onions in pieces. I often add dried fruit, it makes the bird more tender and balances the flavours. I also use carrot and parsnip tops. If you have a thermometer that you can use during cooking put it in the thickest part of the thigh and fold the foil around it so you can see it. I always lay the bird with the breast down to keep it in the liqiud forming while roasting. Put the package on a baking dish to avoid anything from leaking in your oven. If the foil breaks you can still use the broth from the dish. Let it roast for 1 to 1,5 hour in 350-400 deg F or 175-200 deg C.
Peek a small hole on the top of the foil to check if the meat is cooked through or until it reaches 180 deg F or 82 deg C. That's what recommended for chickens with bones. If the meat falls of the bones and there's no pink spots in the meat it's done. If not done, let it roast for another 30 minutes.
Let the bird rest and cool off a bit before you pick all the meat off the bones. Strain any liquids and add it to the soup using the directions for the boiling water below.
ground beef, sausages or leftover meat
You can use ground beef instead of chicken or any leftover meat you have.
Fry ground beef in a small amount of fat using a skillet and let it cook through. Add salt, pepper and any spices you like. I often use smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder. Use the directions to the soup based on boiling water and add the meat at the end. You can do the same with any leftover meat you have. If you're using sausage, cut it up in pieces and let it boil for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. If it's precooked let it simmer for about 5 minutes before serving.
If I use bacon I always fry it and sprinkle it on top while serving.
Now it's time to make soup
vegetables and pasta/noodles
You can add all the vegetables from the beginning if you like, but if you don't want some of them to boil to pieces you can follow the link below to get some of the recommended cooking times for the vegetables you like to use.
The vegetables I often use are sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnip, rutabaga/swede, potatoes, onions, leaks and a variety of herbs. I also use dried vegetable powder or dried spinach to get it even more nutrious. When I use mushrooms I fry them and sprinkle them on top while serving.
If you want to use pasta in your soup you can either make it in a pot on the side following the directions on the package or you can add it to your soup like you would with vegetables. If pasta is added into the soup it will get more dissolved as it will continue to cook in the soup even after it comes off the heat. I often put pasta in a separete bowl on the table while serving so that the broth in the soup stays clear. I'll do the same with noodles. It's a great way to use leftover pasta.
I make a batter for dumplings using flour, salt and water, 1 egg is optional. Put the flour and salt in a bowl, add cold water and mix. Add more flour until you have a really firm batter. I always use a fork to mix the batter.
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add salt to the water. Put down batter by a spoonful, you need to keep the water at a rolling boil to make sure the dumplings doesn't stick to the bottom. Stir every now and then while adding batter. Turn the heat down and let them simmer for about 10 minutes.
You can do the dumplings in the soup, but the broth will stay clear if you add the dumplings after they are done.
You can also follow the link below to another recipe for dumplings.