Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Rainy Day and Soup

A dark rainy October day like today is nice. And what I want on a rainy day is soup, especially chicken soup. No matter whether it's chicken noodle, chicken and rice, or Silver Palette's Chicken Chili they all start with chicken broth. And the broth starts with a roast chicken. Usually I buy the pack of two organic whole chickens from Costco and follow Pat Conroy's recipe from his The Pat Conroy Cookbook, with a few additions of my own. The other day I only had one chicken and it did get a tad overdone, something Mr. Conroy would deplore. It still tasted pretty good to us and smelled divine roasting away. I realize everyone has a recipe for roast chicken but here's how I do it.

My Roast Chicken, Inspired by Pat Conroy

1. Set whole chicken out of refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
2. Turn oven to 375 degrees.
3. Melt 1/2 stick unsalted butter and 1/4 cup olive oil together in small pan over moderate
          heat until foamy, about 3 minutes.
4. Fill cavity of chicken with 1 peeled shallot, 2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed;
           sprigs of fresh thyme, tarragon or rosemary; 1 teaspoon black peppercorns.
5. Rub chicken with 1/2 lemon and put in cavity.
6. Put other lemon half and an extra one in pan with extra garlic cloves, peeled.
7. Baste chicken with the butter-olive mixture.
8. Dust with paprika, salt and fresh ground black pepper.
9. Add 2 strips of bacon across top.
10. Roast at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or more till done, legs wiggle, and temperature 
            in thigh is 170 degrees.

You can deglaze the pan with 2 cups chicken broth, salt and pepper, reduce by half and serve over mashed potatoes. But what I do now is save all the drippings, all the bones, skin, fat, carcass and either freeze it or make broth from it the next day. You can't buy chicken broth as rich and tasty as the broth made from this. I never stir stock. Why? I don't know, but Pat Conroy says not to so I don't. And I freeze it in several containers to save for soup for a rainy day.

Chicken Stock

Put all of the drippings, skin, fat and bones from the roast chicken into a stock pot and add a lot of water. Distilled water makes the clearest broth if you happen to have it. Add a couple of onions, peeled and halved, 3 or 4 carrots peeled and halved, 3 or 4 celery stalks cut in half, hopefully with lots of leaves. Any fresh herbs like parsley or thyme, tossing in any herb stems you've saved recently too. Add 4 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of herbs de Provence, a dozen whole cloves, 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, one garlic head cut in half and unpeeled. Two teaspoons sea salt.

I let this simmer for hours, cool, strain, refrigerate or freeze for all kinds of soups but especially chicken soup. This time I added barley to the chicken soup instead of rice or noodles. More fiber there.

Know what's not bad at all with soup on a rainy day? Good, creamy pimento cheese!

Pimento cheese is something else that everyone has a favorite recipe for, but I buy good mild cheddar and sharp cheddar. I used to stir in a tub of soft cream cheese but am now leaving it out and cutting way back on mayonnaise. I have been known to add extras such as jalapeƱos, hot sauce, olive juice but one thing I always do that I've never heard of anyone else doing is to puree the pimento before adding. Son Zack would not eat it with pimentos when he was growing up, and I hated it when a piece of pimento seemed to get caught in the roof of the mouth so I started pureeing it. I mean to a liquid. I love it this way and it does give it a pretty color too.

Diet or no diet, in the South sometimes you just gotta have pimento cheese. Stuffing it in celery stalks helps keep it a little more healthy. So does sending most of it to your sons for their lunches. 

I love a rainy day and soup...and pimento cheese.


  1. Your photos are lovely...makes me hungry for soup and a cheese sandwich. We are expecting rain tonight; soup will taste good tomorrow! Have a good night.

  2. Oh I love Chicken soup one of my favorites,,,,looks so good..I must try pimento cheese too ! :)

  3. this is a great idea. there's chicken in the fridge so think I'll make soup tomorrow and freeze some. cold weather is a'coming!

  4. Well, my dear friend, you have certainly been cooking up a storm for those rainy days that demand, (and deserve), a big bowl, (or two!), of this delicious chicken soup, chock full of flavour, and an appetizing pimento cheese complement! I am always amazed at how we can squeeze so many delectable dishes out of one, finely roasted chicken! And yours, basted in buttery/olive oil and lemon, echoing of scented, mountain herbs, can only lead to earthy goodness and sunny smiles, even on the rainiest of days! Like you, I love using fresh, French inspired herbs and sweet veggies, accenting the broth with rich taste that translates into palate perfection!

    I am intrigued by Mr. Conroy's strict 'no stir' command for a winning broth, and giggled at your 'just go with it!', laissez-faire attitude regarding the magic and mystery of it all! I love this whimsical side of yours and you have given me a taste of what fun it would be to spend the day cooking away in that charming kitchen of yours! Of course, it goes without saying, that I would happily be your sous chef! :-D

    There is definitely something so very therapeutic about a big, shiny pot of soup simmering on the stove, enriching the house with warmth and hypnotic aromas. And in your sweet farmhouse, where the anticipation of its final arrival at your cheery table, set with a fusion of savoury flavours, feeding awaiting stomachs and soothing tired muscles, I would imagine, rainy days are most welcomed!

    Thanks for the cozy, comfort food fare, that is always lovingly prepared with a delightful dash of Dewena!


  5. That soup looks so good. This is the time I love making and eating soups. They can be so healthy and filling.

  6. Since my mom was for Georgia I grew up loving pimento cheese sandwiches. It is not as easy to get in the north but occasionally I find it and it puts me right back to my childhood. Thanks for the recipe for the roast chicken and stock. I need to try that. We love homemade soups.

  7. Is that the same Pat Conroy who wrote The Water Is Wide? I just found a paperback copy of it for sale at my local library. It's been years since I've first read it. Also, you and I have the same method for roasting chicken, although I have not used paprika. Yours looks delicious! Last but not least, happy anniversary. We just celebrated our 32nd on the 10th.

  8. I love pimento cheese. Pureeing the pimento sounds like a great idea. I do that with a new recipe I make with rotel. I puree the mild rotel tomatoes and add them to the cheese. It is now our favorite kind of "pimento" cheese. Happy anniversary!

  9. The soup looks amazing and I'm totally with you, pimento cheese is the best thing ever. I LOVE it! :)

  10. I can smell that chicken cooking. Oh, my husband loves his pimento cheese. I have never made any. I guess I really must try that now!

  11. I made home made chicken soup last weekend! :) Whenever soup season starts, it is always the first one that I want :) Last weekend it was chicken and noodle / another time it will be chicken and rice or perhaps wedding soup, yum :)

  12. Oh yum! I had a cup of tomato basil soup at lunch and a cup of chicken dumpling for dinner. We have had cold, dreary weather all day. I lvoe your share on the recipe and the pimento cheese sounds so good right now. Yum! Thank you for sharing.


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