Very Simple Herbed Chicken Pasta Soup

I love having soups for lunch – they are light, delicious and most importantly will not put to me to sleep after the meal (especially during work :)). I used to buy canned soup for the convenience of a ready meal after 3 minutes of reheating. As I read the sodium levels on the nutrition label, I decided to make my own. I read some recipes online and came up with this as my freestyle cooking – not following a recipe. The ingredients are very simple: vegetables, chicken broth, chicken, pasta and herbs. I like the using herbs in my soup as they brighten up the flavours. I also used lemon to add a bit of refreshing flavour as well.

Ingredients:

Makes 8 – 10 servings.
(I didn’t follow a recipe – adjust portions however you like!)
  • 2 pieces of Chicken Breast
  • 1 cup Dried Pasta (I used small bow ties), cooked, drained and rinsed
  • 5 – 6 Celery Stalks, diced
  • 2 medium-sized Carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • herb bouquet – a sprig of rosemary, 2 sprigs of thyme and sage,
    tied together with a piece of cotton string
    *If you do not like herbs, omit them.
  • 2 cans of Chicken Broth (375 mL each)
  • 2.5 – 3 L water
  • Juice of  ¼ of a lemon
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper, cook, let cool and dice.
    *I seared my chicken to add extra flavour but it is not necessary.
  2. Cook pasta in lightly salted water, drain and rinse.
  3. Wash vegetables and dice.
  4. Bring chicken broth and water to a boil with the herb bouquet, add vegetables and simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Add cooked pasta and chicken, simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Fish out herb bouquet, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Soup is served!

This soup is super easy to make, yummy and good for you – just requires a bit of vegetable chopping.  I am ditching the canned stuff for good. 8)

Advertisements

Summer Canning: Tomatoes

Fresh local tomatoes are so delicious in the summer, it is a good time to preserve their sun ripen tomato-ey flavour for cooking. I came across some nice local tomatoes so I bought some to try canning them at home – it is my first time canning tomatoes. It is not a difficult process. All you need is tomatoes, salt, citric acid or bottled lemon juice, and water (proper canning jars too!). The following recipe was adapted from Chow Times.

Ingredients:

For every 500 ml bottle:
  • About 1 lb. (400-500 grams) fresh vine ripen tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. powdered citric acid OR 1 tbsp. bottled lemon juice
    (bottled lemon juice has regulated acidity whereas the acidity of fresh lemon juice varies)
  • ½ tsp. salt (if desired)
  • Fresh herbs (if desired – I did not use any since it was my first time)

Method:

  1. Score a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes with a knife for easy skin removal.
  2. Boil tomatoes in hot water for about 30 seconds.
    *Remove from water and place them in a cold water bath.*
  3. Peel skin.
  4. Remove the core (stem end) of the tomatoes with a paring knife.
  5. Cut tomatoes into halves or quarters and place into a pot and cover the bottom with water. (I used about 1 cup of water for 2 lbs of tomatoes.) Bring contents to a boil in medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Simmering them will kill the enzymes that causes the liquid and solid to separate – the process is called ‘Hot Pack’. Add salt if desired.
  6. Prepare jars for canning: rinse jars with warm water, sanitize and keep jars and tops in hot water (not boiling) until ready to use. Do not put hot contents in a cold jar – glass may break! Place the citric acid or lemon juice in the empty sanitized jars.
  7. Fill jars with prepared tomatoes, leave about ½ inch of space from the top of the rim. Use a plastic knife or utensil to remove air bubbles in the jar, add more cooking liquid if required.
  8. Wipe rim of the jars, place tops and screw rings (not overly tight!). Place jars into hot water with at least an inch of water above the jars and bring to a boil. Process the jars for 40 minutes (time from when boiling starts). After 40 minutes, turn off heat, wait until boiling subsides, carefully remove jars without tilting them. Check seal after 24 hours, the top of a good sealed jar shouldn’t ‘pop’ when pressed with your finger. If it ‘pops’, it means the jar is not vacuum sealed – you will need to use contents as soon as possible and store it in the refrigerator. Store properly sealed jars in a cool dark place.

I was surprised that canning tomatoes are so easy, the tomatoes I used is probably not suitable for a pasta sauce but will be good in a soup or stew. This is not canning tomato sauce – that is a different story which will require removing the seeds and milling the tomatoes. Things to be careful about is handling the hot jars and that cleanliness is key!


Sesame Crackers

After a couple times of trial and error, I have finally come up with this recipe. It is great for snacking, contains whole wheat, olive oil and toasted sesame seeds! A piece of equipment you might want to consider getting if you don’t already have is the pasta maker, it made my life so much easier. Here I rolled them out so thin that the crispiness is more like chips more than crackers. So why have greasy chips when you can have these thin and crispy crackers?

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams All Purpose Flour
  • 50 grams Whole Wheat Flour (I used stoned milled)
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt + more for sprinkling tops
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Toasted White Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tbsp. Toasted Black Sesame Seeds
    * I used Japanese sesame seeds – they are very flavourful and are already toasted which is very convenient.
  • 115 ml. Water (adjust according to dough texture)
  • 25 ml. Olive Oil (good quality) + more for brushing

*If you don't have a pastry cutter, just cut the dough with a knife. In this photo I cut them before brushing the oil but it actually easier to brush the oil and then cut.

Method:

    1. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients.
    2. Add water and olive oil.
    3. Mix with a rubber spatula until the dough starts to form. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more water.
    4. Turn the dough on a counter and knead until it becomes not sticky on your hands.
    5. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    6. After resting, divide the dough into four pieces so you can work them through the pasta maker individually.
      * Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
    7. Work the well-floured dough from the thickest setting and gradually to the thinner setting (I rolled these to the setting “7” with the thinnest at “9”).
      * If you don’t have a pasta maker, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a very thin sheet.
    8. Cut the dough sheets so it fits on the cookie sheet, place on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
    9. Cut the dough sheets into small size crackers and bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown (keep an eye on them because they can burn easily). Let cool and store in an air tight container.

I usually don’t store them for a long time because they are always gone after a couple of days. They taste great with hummus too!