Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Have you seen the recent commercial for Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup? The one where the girl is calling up the "Progresso Hotline" and asking to speak to someone because she is certain that this is her grandmother's soup she's eating? Every time I see that I feel sad for the girl, if that is what her grandmother's chicken noodle soup tastes like. I'm not hating on Progresso. As far as canned chicken noodle soups go, I find it to be among the best. But it shouldn't have the same name as real, good, homemade chicken noodle soup.

And in my case, it doesn't. My grandmother's homemade chicken noodle soup is affectionately referred to as "Gobbles" in my family. The reason for this, I've received confirmation, is because she used to make it after Thanksgiving with leftover turkey. Hence, the gobble. But she would
also make it with chicken at other, less turkified times of the year, but still called it Gobbles. Hey, whatever. It works in our family and the soup is damn delicious, so I don't care what you call it.

That's my Gram there on the right. And her sister, my great aunt Hazel on the left. Let's just
take a moment and reflect upon how awesome grandparents in general are. Now, please understand that I'm not trying to boast or make anyone out there feel inferior, but let me assure you now that my grandmother is the best grandmother ever. She could kick all your grandmother's asses. She could. Trust me. And now let's take a moment in
advance and thank this woman for her soup, the recipe of which I'm about to share with you. Thank you Gram! You could show those Progresso people a thing or two about soup.

Here are the ingredients you will need for Gobbles.

1/2 roaster chicken
3 carrots
4 celery stalks
1 medium onion
parsley flakes (or fresh parsley)
salt and pepper to taste
noodles (of your choosing, but if you want it Gobbles style, we use medium shells. I don't know why, but I've learned to just trust in the recipe and go with it)

That's it! 7 ingredients and it's perfection in a bowl. So let's get started.

First, the chicken. Now ordinarily I buy a roaster chicken and cut it in half. But on this particular occasion, the grocery story didn't have any roaster chickens. (What the hell kind of grocery story doesn't have roaster chickens? Seriously. Maybe there was a sale and I missed it or something).

So I bought a cut up whole chicken. Hey, it saved me the work. This would also be acceptable if
you have an aversion to cutting up a chicken. Either way, for a regular batch of soup, you only need half the bird, so I only used half of the pieces, and froze the rest. Perfect for more Gobbles another time.

Go ahead and rinse that bird off, just briefly. Then toss it in a large stock pot with a lid. Like so.

And cover the chicken with water. Like so.

Cover with the lid and bring it to a boil. The nature of the chicken and the fact that you're using all the pieces, including the fat, will cause there to be a little bit of a foamy scum at the top of the pot when it boils. I don't like to use the word scum when I'm talking about something I'm going
to eat - but I also can't think of a better word for it. See for yourself.

It's not a big deal, and it's not really all that gross, but I usually get rid of it. Use a spoon and scoop it off. You aren't losing any flavor from it, I promise. Let the chicken boil in the pot uncovered for 2 hours. During this 2 hours, you will add your vegetables. I usually add them
after an hour - so about halfway through.

There's our veggies. It's a mirepoux. That is a shout out to my friend Heather and The Mad Chef. Whoops, looky there I used 4 carrots and I told you you only needed 3. Well I like carrots and no one is the boss of your soup, so use as many as you want. But not too many or then you'll have carrot soup, which by the way, The Mad Chef made a delicious version of.

Moving on. Roughly chop the veggies. I like to see what I'm eating, so I don't cut them too small so that they cook away. About like this.

Also please note that it's extremely important that your veggies don't touch when you put them in the bowl to await their turn in the hot tub. I mean it! I am a veggie segregationist and I do not want them mingling.

When it's their time, toss them in.

The carrots and celery will sink, but the onion will float. I usually season around this time too. I have no measurements to give you. I just toss in some salt and pepper. When in doubt, go light. You can always add more later.

Continue simmering for another hour. And let me tell you - this is when it starts to get good. This is when the house starts to smell wonderful. Like grandmother's houses, and happiness and love and all things warm and fuzzy. You might want to take a nap on the couch. Neighborhood
children will smell the soup from the street and ring your doorbell asking you for some. Turn
them away. They have their own grandmothers. Or better yet, give them a can of Progresso.

A note on the parsley. In my Gram's recipe, she calls for and has always (to my knowledge) used dried parsley flakes. I don't know about you, but I don't keep dried parsley flakes in my
cupboard, because I never use them. Fresh parsley is so flavorful and easy to find, and if I
bought a thing of the dry stuff, it would sit up there for years and I would only use a sprinkle
here and there. And they say dry herbs go bad after 6 months. So, I use fresh parsley. About a handful. I chop it up roughly, and toss it in after the veggies have had a chance to do their thing.

And then just continue cooking. After awhile, you can check the seasonings. If it needs more salt or pepper, go ahead and add more.

Your nose and eyes will tell you when the Gobbles are done. It takes about 2 hours, but it could be more or less, depending on your pot, the amount of chicken, etc. But trust me, you will know.

It will look like this and it will smell better than anything you've ever smelled in your life. You can see here that a bit of the liquid evaporates during the 2 hours. Sometimes I add in a couple
cupfuls of water at this stage. Go ahead and do that if you want. Just make sure to test the
seasonings again and add more salt if it needs it (it usually does). Take the chicken out of the pot, set it aside for a few minutes, until it's cooled down enough that you can handle it.

I use a slotted spoon to make sure I get every little bit of chicken out of the pot. And even
though I do that, it's still possible that a little piece of bone or something is floating in there. It's homemade, after all. Just be careful when you eat it, especially if you give it to little ones.

Separate the chicken pieces - meat, fat, bone. Get in there and dig all the meat out and shred it with 2 forks.

If you only like white meat - hey that's ok. I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to chicken. I know no color. But you do whatever floats your boat. While you are shredding the chicken, bring the soup liquid up to a boil.

Now let's talk about the noodles. I know it's odd to use shells in chicken noodle soup. I have a friend who makes chicken noodle soup, and she swears that the only type of noodle that will do is an egg noodle. I'm sure egg noodles would taste just fine. But I'm not going for fine, dammit, and I'm not making homemade chicken noodle soup, I am making Gobbles. And in Gobbles, we use
medium shells.

Trust in the recipe. Once the soup is boiling, add the shells and cook until the shells are done. Then add in the chicken meat. Taste again - just to make sure - and adjust if necessary.

Look at that deliciousness. Now stand back and give yourself a pat on the back. You just made homemade chicken noodle soup! You just made Gobbles!

Now, to really make it Gobbles, you have to eat it the way we do in my family. With a sprinkle of cheese (Parmesan or Romano) and a handful of croutons. I know it's weird. But it's how we do it.

Just try it. If you don't like it, it's ok. You can eat it however you want. The Cowboy didn't care for the croutons. He didn't like how they got soggy.

So he pushed them all to the side of his bowl and made a little stockpile of croutons. Hey, it's cool. Eat it however you like it. The point is, it is delicious. It is the perfect fall or winter dinner. It is love. It is home. It is my grandmother. Enjoy!


Reenie said...

That looks really good Cat. I printed out the recipe ~ thanx for sharing.

<3 reenie ~

Kris said...

Okay... now I'm wanting some soup! It sounds delicious, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Oh I love Chicken Noodle soup recipes!! And that sounds like one I could handle!

I love me some grandparents too! Now I would put my grandma up against yours in a fight ~ but she's 97 now . . . maybe her 20 years ago . . . she's a tough lady ~ immigrated with 8 kids and raised them all by herself! AND she can remember more about my life than I can!

Kristi from AR