Have to tell you guys about this soup/stew recipe. Strangest thing is, ….it has restorative powers. I’m not lying and never run into anything quite like it in 30yrs of active cooking. We joke, “it’s like an IV fluid for those who are disease ridden, exhausted, or homesick”. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, and ran a high end catering company for years, but this is different. It’s not like regular food. Sure, many casseroles have that “homecooked” feel, but we’ve never had a similar response like we get with this soup/stew. Since it’s cold outside, and cold and flu season, I thought it would be nice to share the bounty. I’m giving this to you exactly like we make it. No secrets between friends at QTree.
Chicken Soup/Stew ~ 30-50 hearty man-size servings, enough to share and be generous.
- In an 8qt stockpot, dissolve 15 chicken bullion cubes and 15 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add 2lbs of lentils and cook over medium for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside for an hour. Drain, saving juice, (let the sludge remain at the bottom, we’re going to use the top half for later). Set aside. While waiting on the lentils to soak….. (yes, you can use white beans to make it prettier, but lentils have more protein).
- 5lbs of Carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8″-1/2″ slices. Set aside.
- 2 big bunches of celery, washed and trimmed of bad spots. Sliced into 3/8″-1/2″ slices, and yes, even the leaves and hearts. Set aside.
- 2 bunches of parsley, washed and finely diced. Set aside.
- 5lbs of trimmed up chicken breasts, remove all fat and cartilage, cut into pieces about 3/4″ cubes, drop all the pieces into a Glad Bag of 2 cups of flour, shake to coat (you can add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg. I do, but you don’t need it. I sometimes steal a little bit of the cooked chicken for salads later on). Get rid of the excess four. Set aside.
- 2 medium onions or one super large onion, peel and quarter, and place in a food processor, pulse until pulverized. Set aside.
- Measure out 2cups of milk, I use 2%.
- Need 1 1/2 sticks more butter, unsalted.
- 1 Cup of Flour
- Bottle of a good dry white wine.
- 1 HEAPING tablespoon of dried tarragon.
- 2lbs of Bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces before cooking makes for perfect bacon bits.
- 4 extra bullion cubes and 4 cups of water (you might need more water later).
- No extra salt or pepper, not needed.
Ready to start?
- Start with a big stock pot. At least 16qts, heavy bottom.
- 2lbs of Bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces and saute, stirring continuously. They will all get done at the same time. Remove from pan to drain on paper towels. Set aside. Dump all excess grease from the stock pot and dab the bottom with a paper towel, but DO NOT CLEAN the bottom.
- Return pan to heat. Into same pot, with bacon residue on bottom, add 1 stick butter, juice of 2 lemons and about a 1/2 cup of wine. We’re deglazing the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula, removing the bacon crinkles from bottom of pan. Once that is done, cook the chicken. Remove and drain with copious amounts of paper towels, set aside. Do NOT clean the pot.
- Return pot to heat. Into same pot, dump the onions and stir for about 5 minutes, deglazing again. Add carrots, celery, and blend to coat with onions. Add up to 1/2 bottle of wine and the tarragon. Add the top 1/2 of the juice from the lentils, discarding sludge at the bottom. Add 4 more bullion cubes and enough water to cover the vegetables. Let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are al dente.
Meanwhile, while we’re waiting on the carrots/celery to cook…..
- We’re going to make a roux to thicken the soup/stew. In another pan, like a broad shallow chicken fryer skillet, over med heat, melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter, add 1 cup flour until lightly toasted. Working constantly with a sturdy whisk, add the milk, slowly, and whatever is left of the wine. Set aside.
- When the carrots are done, dump in the lentils and blend carefully. Remove from heat for a minute for the next step.
- Into a large bowl, take out half the carrot/celery/lentil broth mixture. Run 1/2 through a food processor, pulsing to break up big chunks. This way you get thicker stew and small and big chunks of veggies. Return all the soup mix to the pot.
- In same food processor, shred 1/2 of the chicken into smaller pieces. Dump all the chicken into the same big soup pot.
- Add the roux (flour/milk/wine) to thicken. If you need to add water to the stew, add 1 cup at a time. Blend carefully.
- Add the parsley.
The whole thing need to come to a boil, sort of, it will never really boil but becomes very hot. You need this step to activate the flour and thicken properly. It takes about 30-45 minutes on my stove top. Be careful and don’t use too high of heat as the bottom burns and the soup will be ruined. I stir about every 5-7 minutes during this process, checking the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
It’s supposed to simmer for about an hour, but I’ve never had my family wait that long to grab a bowl. We keep the whole pot, lid turned upside down, in an extra fridge and anyone can grab a cup, warm up in the microwave, when they are hungry. To stretch even further, add 2-12oz bags of frozen, then cooked, green beans, for a nice addition. Fresh mushrooms don’t work, too much moisture, I’ve tried. Peas don’t work well either. We serve with about a tablespoon of bacon bits on the top and I still have bacon bits leftover for salads.
It’s a killer recipe, incredibly healthy, and lasts all week long. I dole out portions to the son in college and his roomies, sick folks from church, or hungry firemen/police if they have a big incident.
One note: The recipe originally called for 5lbs of potatoes and we made it this way for a few years. Substituting the lentils (or white beans) is like a protein injection and no sleepiness from the high carbs of the potatoes.
One more note: I found this is a great team project. Husbands have no objection to slicing up vegetables and kids can peel carrots. They set up with a big cutting board in front of a football game. Makes it easier and everyone has a hand in.
It’s a super food.
Stay warm and healthy, love to all.
Note to Alison: No dried apricots in this one. Bwwhahahaa!