Monday, November 8, 2010

The Soup Challenge: Step 1

Today officially marks my journey into soupville and I am not treading lightly. The first thing I needed to do was narrow down the variety of New England Country Soup I'm going to challenge. And, after much thought and deliberation, various polls and a good old fashioned eeny-meeny-miny-moe, I've decided on the chicken pomodoro. It's a light tomato soup with basil, rotini and chunks of chicken.

Side note: I love love love the New England Country Soup packaging. Instead of imprisoning their soups in a tin can, forcing us to struggle with saran wrap if we're microwaving, their soups are in easy pouches that take just a couple minutes to 'nuke and then let you cleanly pour the soup right into a bowl, preventing the scorching microwaved-bowl burn.

Ok, so back to the chicken pomodoro. In doing a little research I found that this is a traditional Italian soup, typically made with tomatoes and basil and served over chunks of bread. Now, while that sounds delish, I see why the pre-made soup doesn't have bread... I can't imagine it holds its integrity for very long and these pre-made soups have to last. No worries though, we can skip the bread and still get a tasty soup. I've put together my test recipe, keeping myself under 17 ingredients per contest rules.

One ingredient I'm definitely using is chicken stock and, since this contest is judged not just on flavor but also on nutrition, I'm going to go ahead and make my own. The best way to monitor the salt/fat content in your food is to make it yourself. So, right now I've got a little chicken roasting in the oven, filling our apartment with a hearty aroma of sage, rosemary and thyme.  Unfortunately, I can't follow the Julia Child method, which gives you an incredibly juicy bird but requires butter, butter, and more butter! I can, however, follow her technique - cooking the bird on each side and then breast-up for a totally even roast. I didn't skip the butter all together though - I did spread it on the chicken skin before I sprinkled it with S&P :).

After the chicken is done, I'm going to pop it in the fridge and make the stock tomorrow. Tonight, I've got a date with a hunk and some major pasta eating to do! It's pasta Monday at Cafe Portobello down the street. $9.95 for soup, salad and your choice of a pasta entree! So, to be continued...

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