New England is in the thick of soup season, people.
This is a post I have been meaning to write for a long time. The thing is, most of time, I make chicken broth at the most inopportune photo moments, and my pictures of the ingredients and stock pot were shadowy and not all prettied up for the camera. It was the real, working deal. But then, (I just said to myself) with the prediction of 3 more snowfalls throughout New England by Tuesday, WHO CARES about the stock pot picture? You need to know how to make soothing, nourishing soup now, with snowy pictures of New Hampshire to stare at.
Ellis River XC ski trail, Jackson, NH
We have snow to shovel and trails to ski. General moving around in subzero temps can be exhausting.
We need to come home to a steaming bowl of chicken soup with delicate strands of lemon flavored pasta that require no ability to chew. We are too tired and cold for that.
To make the grated pasta soup, you start with homemade chicken broth. If you already make your own chicken broth or stock, a big yay from me to you.
But if you don’t, why not? It’s so easy and much better tasting than anything you will get from a can or a cube. It is simple to put together and let simmer while you tend to other things. And the smell is heavenly. With this recipe, the cooked chicken can be used for another recipe or to make chicken salad. I will post about that soon! In the meantime, I hope I can convince you it’s worth your while, and while we are on that subject…
One of the great reasons to own and use a pressure cooker is because of the delicious chicken broth that can be made in under an hour. I have been using mine for chicken broth and a myriad of other soups for the past 22 years. Generally, pressure cookers procure food that tastes like it has been simmering on the back of the stove all day by somebody’s sweet grandma, yet in one third the time. Chicken broth pressure cooks in 30 minutes, and I allow an additional 20 minutes for the pressure gauge to release on its own. So there it is – chicken broth in less than an hour. I generally make mine after dinner while I am zoning out watching TV and wrap it all up before I hit the sack. Lacking a pressure cooker, it can still be made on the stovetop with good results.
I had two whole pastured chickens from White Gates Farm in Tamworth, NH in my freezer that needed to be used pronto for space purposes, and while I had bought them for roasting and not broth making, I didn’t see that happening anytime soon, so that’s what I used. But you can use any meaty chicken parts, and in fact, if there’s a good sale in your neck of the woods on organic chicken — whole or parts, I would just load up on that to make the broth. Often legs are the cheapest pieces to buy and they make a quality seasoned broth.
As for the Grated Pasta soup, it is one of my favorite ways to enjoy chicken broth. And another easy thing to throw together — no pasta skills needed (that’s good because I don’t have them). All you have to do is mix the ingredients in a bowl — basically, flour, Parmesan cheese, eggs and breadcrumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon, chill until firm and then use a box grater to grate the dough over a steaming pot of chicken broth. Or do it over a clean towel and dump in all the pasta shreds all at once. I’m not patient enough for that so I just grate away over the pot. You must work quickly though since the dough will begin to soften from the steam.
This very old recipe comes from Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito and I have only adapted the instructions. Nary a soup season goes by without several makings of this recipe in my kitchen.
It’s great if you are under the weather and need a bit more nourishment than just plain broth. Check the recipe notes where I explain how to make the pasta gratings in advance. Then you’ll always be ready, no matter how you’re feeling. If you follow a gluten free diet, I don’t see why you couldn’t make it with a GF all-purpose flour — I think it would be just fine.
Pick up the ingredients for some great soupmaking, this is the perfect weekend for it!
- 2 ½ to 3 pounds chicken, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
- 2 large celery stalks, cut into 3 chunks
- 2 large carrots, scrubbed but unpeeled, cut into 3 chunks
- Optional (but good): 1 parsnip, scrubbed but unpeeled, cut into 3 chunks
- 1 large onion, trimmed, unpeeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 6 whole parsley stems with leaves
- 2 large bay leaves
- 10 to 12 cups of water, approximately
- Place all ingredients except water in pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover ingredients by approximately one inch but not above manufacturer’s suggested maximum fill line.
- Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to low to maintain an even high pressure without the pot hissing and pressure cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure gauge drop naturally (about 20 minutes) until you can safely remove lid, tilting lid away from your face to allow steam to escape.
- Strain broth through a colander into a clean bowl. Refrigerate stock in an airtight container for 3 days, or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and save for another use. You can save the bones in the freezer to make a batch of bone broth when you have about 2 ½ to 3 lbs. worth.
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup toasted fresh bread crumbs (see notes for method)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 2 large or extra-large eggs
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 quarts of chicken, beef or vegetable stock
- Garnish: ⅓ to ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. In another small bowl, beat eggs to combine, add lemon zest and juice. Add to flour mixture and mix well with a fork. Gather the sticky dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, or until firm enough to grate (or, if you are in a rush, freeze dough for 2 hours, then place in fridge for an hour—usually it is firm enough then to grate).
- When ready to serve, bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower heat to a low boil. Meanwhile, using the large holes on a box grater, grate the dough ball over a clean towel OR if you can work quickly, grate right over the simmering stock and let the pieces drop directly into the pot. Boil slowly for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
- Leftovers keep well. Reheat before serving.
For this recipe, you need to use just a few slices to make breadcrumbs, but why not use up any day old (or older) bread you have and store any extra breadcrumbs in the freezer?
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using day old (or older, but not rock hard) bread, cut or tear bread into chunks/pieces that will fit in your food processor. Process until crumbs form. Spread bread crumbs in a single thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown, stirring occasionally to prevent overbrowning. Use what you need for recipe and freeze any remaining breadcrumbs in a labelled plastic bag so you will know what in the world this is, a month from now.
Freeze the grated pasta ahead of time
If you want to get ahead of yourself – you can freeze the grated pasta in plastic bags and store in the freezer until ready to use, no need to defrost. Her’s how you do it – once dough is firm enough to grate, grate onto a floured baking sheet that fits in your freezer, and freeze grated pasta until hard. Transfer to plastic bags and store for a month. Again, no need to defrost before cooking.