Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The journey to soup

I am currently training for a 5k.  I started running 6 years ago, and in that time I have ran dozens of 5ks.  But, this one is different because I am running it for my oldest mini.  Now, for those of you that know my oldest mini, you are probably expecting me to say something emotional and touchy-feely about why I am training so hard for this race since I am dedicating it to him.  Well, the real reason I am training so hard is because my oldest mini has very high expectations for me.  And he told me that sometimes he swims until he wants to barf and he expects me to run that hard as well.  

So yesterday, I set out to do a 4 mile training run.  And I got lost, so my 4 mile run became a 6.35 mile run.  And at the end of my 6.35 mile run, I realized that those 2.35 extra miles I ran were the best miles I've had in months.  Because in those 2.35 miles, I took the time to enjoy my view and get some extra thinking in.  

And I know that this is where I am supposed to refer to some insightful quote about finding your true self when lost on the journey of life.  But, really, what I was grateful for was the extra time to reflect up on chicken gnocchi soup.  

Because chicken gnocchi soup rocks.  It warms the soul.  Serve it with crusty bread and it is the ultimate comfort food.  I mean, really....dipping bread into a soup that has dumplings in it?  Perfection.

First, you need to make your gnocchi.
  • 12 oz potato, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup of flour (I used half white whole wheat and half all-purpose) + more for the cutting board
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
    1. Steam potatoes for 12 minutes or until soft. Use a potato ricer, and rice potato into a bowl, discarding skins. Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes to cool.
    2. Make a well in the center of the potatoes, and pour the beaten egg into the well. Cover with ¾ cup of flour. 
    3. Being careful not to overwork, cut it all together until combined (if the dough is still too sticky feel free to add up to ¼ cup more flour, if it’s not sticky enough add another egg yolk, not the whole egg like before).
    4. Flour your cutting board (you may have to re-flour as you go). Divide dough into 6 portions and roll into cigar shaped logs. Cut each log into 1 inch pieces. Now either run each gnocchi over the tines of a fork, pressing lightly as you go, or just press down lightly on each piece with the fork. (I did half of it by rolling over a fork then decided that was taking way too long and then just pressed down on the other half with the fork).
    5. In a pot of boiling water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the top of the water. Wait 30 seconds – 1 minute after they start to float, then drain.
    *sidenotes*  I do not have a potato ricer.  Heck, I didn't even know what a potato ricer was until I googled it today.  A website called it an extra-large garlic press.  Well, I've got one of those, so good enough....just press the cooked potatoes through the garlic press if you don't have a ricer.  I also forgot to add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper, which means when my gnocchi were done boiling in water, they tasted like bland potatoes and flour.  No worries though, because after they were cooked I tossed them in the soup and they were delish by dinner time!

    Here's the potatoes after I pressed them through garlic press.

    Here's the rolled out dough.

    Here's my pressing the fork into the dough.

    We also need to make chicken stock.  I HIGHLY suggest doing this regularly, it's very easy and you can freeze it for when needed.  Lucky for me, I had some in the freezer.  I use this recipe from 

    Chicken stock

  •  4 pound chicken
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • salt to taste

    1. Place the chicken in a large pot over high heat. Add water to cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour.               
    2. Remove chicken from pot. Leave water in pot. Cool chicken. Remove skin and bones from meat. Return bones and skin to pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, ginger, and salt. Continue simmering for 3 to 4 hours.
    3. Strain and cool the stock, uncovered.
    4. Use the meat for soups, salads, sandwiches, or other dishes where cooked chicken is needed. After stock has been defatted, use or freeze immediately. I freeze the stock in one-cup amounts and use instead of water for cooking rice or vegetables or making gravy.               
    Now, you're all set to make your chicken gnocchi soup.  I tweaked the recipe to make double batch with a few other changes.

  • 2 cups chicken , cooked and diced (I baked my chicken in the oven with sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • cups chicken stock
  • cups half and half 
  •  2 cups milk
  • stalk celery, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves,  chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 handfulls of fresh spinach
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 16 ounces potato gnocchi

  • 1.  Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.  (You can also add the thyme at this step, or you can wait until step 2 to add it).

    2.  Add chicken, chicken stock, half and half, salt and pepper, thyme. Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.

    3.  Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

    *sidenote*  I did not put the gnocchi in at step 3.  I added spinach, and then when spinach was wilted, I turned down the heat and put gnocchi in (they were already cooked).

    Here's the pot of soup.

    For those of you that faithfully read and memorize my blog, you may realize that this is a repeat recipe.  I first posted this recipe on January 18th.  This is the first time I have reposted a recipe.....I apologize if this upsets you!  I am choosing to celebrate that I've made it 8 months without repeating a blog recipe!

    Enjoy your soup!  Eat with crusty bread and steamed veggies.  Follow dinner with your favorite movie, the couch, and a down comforter!