Weeks 4 and 5 – Carrot Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup

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The last couple of weeks have been exhausting.  I went from not working for 8 weeks due to my maternity leave to working 11 days straight just 3 weeks after I returned.  Phew!  I’m tired.  But I’m making up for the weekend that I lost with some random days off before the end of the month.

I took last Friday off and had my first real experience with “the Target effect”.  I don’t have a Target particularly close to me, so fortunately this is a rare occurrence.

I went in with a shopping list that did include some fairly big ticket items, including a play mat for baby Tilda and big boxes of diapers, so I knew it wasn’t going to be a cheap trip.  But I walked out spending about 3 times what I had expected to spend.  Oops!

I had Tilda in the baby k’tan (great carrier, by the way, especially when you’re out and about!) and she was asleep, so I took advantage of the quiet time to browse…and impulse buy.  But I sure had fun, so I regret nothing!  She even stayed asleep long enough for me to stop for lunch at Panera Bread.  Double win!

I’m also taking tomorrow off and, since Erick is spending the day with his grandma and Greg brings him along on his way to work in the morning, I get to sleep in!  Woohoo!  Maybe I’ll actually get some dinner on the table tomorrow.

I did manage to make a soup last week, and my mother-in-law suggested different soups for family dinner over the weekend, so it was a great opportunity to get the next week’s soup done early.

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Week 4 was Carrot Soup, pinned from recipe.com.  It wasn’t anything special and was a little disappointing.  It really just tasted like pure carrot.

I used baby carrots to save myself from the peeling and chopping. Also, I used chicken broth because I personally think vegetable broth is kinda gross, plus chicken broth is what I had on hand.  I thought the idea of adding potato flakes to thicken it up was interesting, but I think I should have added more since it was still pretty thin.

I think this soup just needs some more complex flavor.  I really wanted to go back to the leftovers and try adding a little bit of tomato paste, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  If I manage it in the next few days, I’ll include my thoughts in the next post.  It’s possible that the cilantro may have added something, but I really don’t like cilantro so it wasn’t going on my soup!

I was really surprised how well the cashews complimented the soup.  While I didn’t particularly like the soup itself, every bite I took with cashews was quite tasty.  If I had added any more though, I’d have had to call it carrot and cashew soup, because it was definitely more than a “garnish” portion.

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Week 5 was a pretty classic chicken noodle soup.  I cheated and used boxed stock and a grocery store rotisserie chicken, but I may try it again sometime in the future and make the stock myself.  The recipe is from Tyler Florence on the Food Network website.

Again, there’s not really anything special about this recipe, but it made a tasty soup.  The thyme and parsley were good flavors, and the vegetables had a nice texture and taste.  A little bit of citrus flavor, like maybe a squeeze of lemon, would have been nice to brighten it up a bit.

It also would have helped if I had remembered to season with salt and pepper in the end, but that’s easy enough for each diner to do on their own and to their own taste.


Slow-cooker Carrot Soup

Yeild: 6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients

1 medium onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 pounds baby carrots
1 (32 oz) box broth, chicken or vegetable
2 T packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t ground ginger
2 T heavy cream
1/4 t salt
3 T instant potato granules (for thicker soup, if desired)
Chopped cashews, to garnish (optional)
Fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)

Directions

Scatter onion and garlic over bottom of slow-cooker.  Top with carrots.  Add broth and 2 cups of water.

Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

Uncover and stir in brown sugar, ginger, heavy cream, salt, and instant potato granules, if using.  With a blender, immersion blender, or food processor, carefully puree until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer soup to bowls and garnish with cashews and fresh cilantro, if desired.

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 Chicken Noodle Soup

Yeild: 4 servings
Prep time: 2 hours (for stock)
Cook time: 20 minutes

Stock Ingredients

1 whole chicken, rinsed, giblets discarded
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
2 large white onions, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved
1 turnip, halved
1/4 bunch fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 t whole black peppercorns

Stock Directions

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Soup Ingredients

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally 1/2 inch thick
2 celery ribs, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
salt and pepper
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Soup Directions

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

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