April 01, 2020
Professional cooks are some of the most loving, generous big-hearted folks I know. At the core, all we really want to do is cook and feed our community.
This is a very tough time for all of us in the restaurant business — we’ve had to adjust, pivot or close down. I’ve spent many hours working on the line to pitch in and adjust the menu at my restaurant to the essentials.
My favorite part about being in the kitchen is to be able to feed the tiny core team that has remained to keep our doors open. Some meals have been quietly celebratory, just because. Other times, it’s a big pot of kitchen soup where most of the flavor comes from chicken bones or shrimp shells.
Every restaurant — and perhaps every home — should have a “kitchen soup” recipe that allows lots of flexibility, creativity and, of course, bold flavors. So skip the preservative-filled bouillon or canned stock and make a simple from-scratch soup like ours.
Serves 6 to 8
2 to 3 chicken leg pieces on the bone with skin (or 2 to 3 pounds of shrimp shells )
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 to 5 small red potatoes, diced to 1-inch pieces
3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and diced to 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon chili powder (or 1 whole serrano pepper, minced)
2 tablespoons grated unpeeled ginger
1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes (or 2 cups diced tomatoes)
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
8 ounces dry pasta or noodles
2 to 3 cups of diced vegetables (asparagus, sugar snap peas or zucchini, etc.)
1 to 2 sticks cinnamon
3 to 4 large bay leaves and/or kaffir lime leaves
1 cup fresh herbs
Combine the chicken pieces (or shrimp shells) with 3 quarts of water and turmeric and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the stockpot, and let the broth simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. If using shrimp shells, at this point, strain the soup, discard the shells and continue.
Add the potatoes, carrots, chili powder, and ginger to the broth and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft.
Remove the chicken pieces, let them cool off, discard the skin and bones and place the pulled meat back into the soup.
Add the tomatoes, salt, and pasta and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the diced green vegetables, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves and turn the heat off.
Let the soup rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve.
To make this soup without meat, braise 2 to 3 cups of mushrooms in olive oil instead and add 3 quarts of water and follow the rest of the process.
If using noodles, cut them into smaller pieces before cooking if, like me, you do not like eating your soup with a fork and spoon.
If using tomato purée, use 1/2 cup only. The tomatoes add acidity flavor balance, but the soup consistency should be brothy.
To make this more heartier, finish the soup with 2 cups of coconut milk.
Aromatics such as whole cinnamon sticks or fresh herbs are best added at the end of cooking to capture their aroma at its peak.
December 02, 2022