Jared and I are self-proclaimed winter enthusiasts. We love cold weather. We love snow. We’re mildly intrigued by the idea of staying in one of those igloo hotels. There’s a reason our electric bill takes a much-appreciated nosedive in the winter (and a not-so-lovely skyrocket in the summer). Basically, if it’s cold and frost-covered, we dig it. And yes, that includes ice cream.
Last year, we were super lucky ducks in the winter department. Not only did Missouri get one crazy bananas winter storm (we’re talking 18 inches from one blizzard, aptly deemed by the local news “Snowmageddon”), but we also got a happy dusting of inches at a time on multiple occasions throughout the season. It was exactly one year ago today that Jared, Ella and I were hunkered down and enjoying another happy snow day after 6 inches of sparkly winter loveliness fell overnight. We used the day to invent snow day muffins and catch up on another few seasons of Big Bang Theory. Ah, that was the life.
Well, now here we are, a couple of snow-lovin’ fools, living in a part of the country that has seen little more than a few dots of rain this entire winter season. We’ve had a few days with highs in the 40s (huzzah!), but the majority of our winter has been upper 50- to 60-degree days and sunshine. Every morning when I’m watching the Today Show, Al Roker talks about all the wild weather happening across the map, while our “neck of the woods” perpetually mingles with that silly sunshine wearing glasses.
So no snow for us, at least for now. But luckily, food is a surefire way to bring on the warm and cozy feelings, even if there’s no need for scarves or mittens. This chicken stoup (stew + soup = stoup, y’all) takes the traditional chicken noodle soup and jazzes it up to a totally different level. The flavor is insane: semi-homemade broth (way better than the store-bought stuff), fresh dill and lemon juice. Talk about happy taste buds. Oh, and just a few words of wisdom if you’re planning to give it a go: The first time I made this soup I used boneless skinless chicken breasts and dried dill. It was pretty good. The second time around, I used on-the-bone chicken breasts and fresh dill. Holy moly. It knocked my socks off. Bones = bueno.
From Merrill, Food52.com
(Serves 4 — 2 if you’re really hungry)
• 2 pounds chicken pieces, on the bone
• 3 medium carrots, peeled
• 3 stalks celery
• 1 large sweet onion, peeled
• 2 cups chicken stock
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
• 1 lemon (or 2 if the one is super juicy)
• freshly ground black pepper
Remove the fat from the chicken pieces, and place chicken in a large pot. Cut one of the carrots, one of the celery stalks and half the onion into large chunks and add them to the pot with the chicken. Add the chicken stock and enough water to submerge the chicken and vegetables. Add the salt.
Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat so that it simmers gently. During the first five minutes, skim off any of the foam that accumulates on the surface. Cook the chicken for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s opaque and firm. Transfer chicken to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and let it cool for a few minutes.
Take the chicken off the bones. Reserve the meat and return the bones to the pot. Recover the pot and simmer the stock for at least 45 minutes.
Remove the bones and the vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard. Then strain the stock through a mesh sieve into a clean pot.
Cut the remaining carrots, celery and onion into bite-sized chunks. Return the stock to a simmer and give it a taste; add more salt if necessary. Add the carrots and onion to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the celery and cook for another 3 minutes. Finally, stir in the dill, lemon juice from one or two lemons and about ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Tear or cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot. Simmer for a minute or so, just until the chicken has a chance to reheat.
Sure, it’s mid-January and nary a flake has been seen in our cozy corner of the world, but we’re still holding out hope. After all, it was well into March last year when we used another snow day to whip up a batch of pasta and bean soup with kale. That snow day was different though; I think we had moved onto 30 Rock by then. Methinks Jack Frost is to blame for our excessive TV consumption.
How’s winter shaping up in your area? Lots of snow? Lots of sun? What do you like to cook on those snowed-in days? Or, if you’re like me, what do you cook in your sun-filled kitchen while you dream of building a snowman?