I have a cold. And it really, truly sucks. Being sick is one of those things that sucks all the joy out of my world, and that says something because I’m pretty damn happy. Most of the time, anyway. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m my happiest when I get to play in my kitchen, so last night, that’s what I did. I didn’t feel well, so it wasn’t anything spectacular. Just some good, old fashioned comfort food.
I made chicken and stars.
Pretty, isn’t it? This is one of those things that I only eat when I’m sick. The problem is that I don’t like canned soups anymore. I’ve come to realize that I can make the same thing, and it’s going to (a) taste better, (b) be better for me, and (c) last longer. This recipe makes A LOT of soup. The good news is it freezes really well. I make mine a little different that most people would because my husband doesn’t eat cooked celery. I’m not a big fan of it either. I also cook like a southern woman… meaning I MEASURE NOTHING.
That having been said, still want to know what I did? Good. Keep reading.
Chicken & Stars
2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about a pound and a half)
6-8 quarts water
1 can sliced carrots
1 box stelline pasta
1 bay leaf
celery seed (if you prefer celery, chop up two stalks of celery and use that instead of this!)
1. Bring salted water to a boil. Add bay leaf, a two tablespoons chicken base (or 4 bouillon cubes), bay leaf, and the rest of the seasonings based on your personal preference. Add chicken and boil approximately 25 minutes, until cooked through.
2. Remove chicken from pot and chop or shred. Drain and cube/chop carrots. Return both to the broth. Here you can do one of two things – either turn down to medium-low and simmer the broth to help strengthen the flavor, or if you’re in a hurry, add the pasta and prepare to eat.
3. Bring back to a boil. Add stelline (I used the whole box) and more water if necessary. Add extra chicken base if you add more water to balance the flavor. Boil approximately 8 minutes, or until the stars are plump and soft.
This is a lot of soup; a lot more than the four of us in my household are going to eat in a sitting or two. Keep in mind as well that once you turn the pot off, the pasta is going to continue to absorb the broth. Last night after dinner, there was very little broth left in the pot, but that’s good when you’re planning on storing it for later.
I keep quart-sized freezer bags on hand so I can break it up into more manageable portions. I filled two bags and squeezed the air out before I sealed them. Then I laid them flat on a shelf in my freezer. When I take them out to eat, all I have to do is add chicken stock or water/chicken base and pour in the contents of the bag. Once it’s hot, it’s ready. The rest of the soup went to work with me today and will be my lunch.
Oh, yeah… don’t eat the bay leaf. It won’t taste very good. However, if you’re like me, make a game out of it. Whoever gets the bay leaf in their bowl gets a cookie after dinner.