Stupid Easy Greek Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin
date: Sat, Sep 19, 2015 at 4:08 PM

DOOOOD,
Last week I was at a nice Greek restaurant for a buddy’s birthday, and my friend Stephanie introduced me to the most delicious, lemony chicken soup, avgolemono. Avgolemono refers to the sauce that can be used as a part of any number of dishes.

Anyway, I’ve been dying to have this soup again that I had at the restaurant, so I googled “avgolemono chicken egg soup” and found some common ingredients and some variations. So I wrote my own recipe, and tried to make it stupid easy. I got sick this week and saw the perfect opportunity to make it. Way better than chicken noodle soup. So here goes.

Stupid Easy Greek Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

Ingredients

  • 8 cups free range organic chicken broth (or homemade broth)
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup diced onions, sautéed in olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • ½ to 1 cup of lemon juice
  • ¼ to ½ cup freshly chopped dill

Cook the rice. Run to the store for a rotisserie chicken and fresh dill and chicken broth. Don’t take too long, because the rice, idiot.

Simmer most of the stock and season with pepper to taste (and salt if necessary). Hold back a cup or two (see below).

Sautee the diced onions. I like to get the frozen and already diced onions from the grocery store. Saves time and a mess.

Combine the remaining room temp or cool broth in a blender with the eggs, lemon juice, onions and 2 cups of the rice and blend until smooth. Why not hot broth? We don’t want to curdle the eggs. It’s not egg-drop soup or scrambled egg soup either.

Slowly stir the contents of the blender into the broth still simmering on the stove. Add the rest of the rice.

Fork the chicken bare, down to the bone. Add that to the simmering stock. Maybe bring up the heat a little. I don’t know. I did.

Add more lemon juice if you need to. I thought a cup was perfect for the whole pot, but I like it pretty lemony. Finish off with salt and pepper to taste.

After awhile, you’re basically done. It’s instinct.

Chop up the dill, stir it in. Serve that delicious dish.

Jamey

P.S. This is a lot of soup. So cut it in half, or freeze some, or have a lot of people over who eat chicken. 🙂

Faux-Pho, Fo’ Real, Yo.

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Daniel Larkin: to Jamey Bennett

November 25, 2014

You like that email name?  I thought you would.

All stupidness aside, I’m really glad you picked Pho for the first throwdown.  It seems like nowadays I can’t look at any social media forum without seeing a hundred people with raging boners for the stuff, so I think the time is right to Two Dudes it.  The real reason I was excited that you picked Pho, though — and it’s time for some brutal honesty here — is that I’ve never even been in the same room as a bowl of the stuff.

This was a good primer into Pho, and to your credit, I was guided by your recipe.  I just tried to adapt it on the fly with the basic ingredients I could find at the local Food City; aka, Food Shitty. This may be like a blind man describing the color red, or Albrecht Dürer’s Rhino.  But whatever it was that I made, it was outstanding!  It was savory, but the spices were light and festive.  It was hardy, but still soft and comforting.  It was vegan, but had the richness of a steak.

The obvious first hurdle was the meat.  I decided that just going tofu instead of beef was a cop-out.  I hate when restaurants do that, because sometimes it’s just the lazy thing to do, so I wanted to avoid that trap.  What I landed on was mushrooms, but not just mushrooms, ponzu marinated portobello.

Ponzu is a citrusy soy sauce, that when made right, adds all five flavors; sweet, sour, tangy, salty, and savory.  (When Kikkoman makes it, it tastes like soy sauce and 7-Up.)  The spices in Pho seemed like they would be a good match for a slight lime taste, so I went with a ponzu and lime marinade.  (Depending on your noodles, the small amount of wheat in Ponzu can the only thing keeping this meal from being gluten free.)

Most of the work was done in the morning, when I started my broth.  I also cleaned the fans from the mushrooms, sliced them, and let them marinate all day.  In cooking the mushrooms, my general rule is that the longer they cook, the more flavor they give.  It just gets concentrated.  So with all of that in mind, let me give you my list of ingredients.  As you said in your email, it looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s all fairly easy.  And again, I found everything at the local Food Shitty, so there’s nothing weird or obscure here.

For the mushroom marinade:  

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  • 2 large portobello caps, de-fanned and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu
  • 1/4 cup Tamari (soy sauce as it should be, no wheat or sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 4 quarter sized slices of fresh ginger
  • Juice of one lime

Mix in a gallon Ziplock bag, and stash the fridge, turning every now and then to ensure equal contact time.

For the Broth: aka, the star of the show.

  • 1 32oz box of veggie stock.  I always recommend Imagine No Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 onion rough cut — save the other half for the soup
  • 6 cloves of garlic whole
  • 6 slices of ginger
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 oz package of shittake mushrooms  (This is the key to that savory bump)
  • 2 pods of clove (Optional.  The flavor boils off, leaving good aroma – if you like clove)
  • Half bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 3 tbs Tamari
  • 2 tbs honey — or agave syrup if you don’t consider honey vegan.
  • 1 TBS rice vinegar
  • Half bunch of cilantro whole

Combine all of these into a stock pot, bring to a simmer, and let it go low and slow all day.  Strain all the solids off when it’s time to assemble the soup.  It’s really that easy.

Other miscellaneous ingredients:

  • The other half of that onion sliced
  • 3 carrots sliced thin
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small stems
  • Jalapeño (Optional, but recommended)
  • 5 Spice Powder (Optional)
  • Noodles of your choice (I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles)
  • Cilantro, basil and lime wedges for garnish

With all of the prep work done, assembly is pretty easy when the time comes.

  1. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and sear on high heat in your preferred oil.  Once they are seared and have that light brown color on the outside, turn down the heat and go low and slow for at least 20 minutes, or unit they are half sized and easily chewed.
  2. Remove the mushrooms from the heat and set aside.
  3. Deglaze the pan with a splash of broth, then add the other half onion for a two minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli and carrots and top off with the rest of the broth.  Simmer until the broccoli and carrots are tender but not mush.  (Hence the thin slice on the carrots)
  5. Taste and see if you need any five spice powder.  I added a little, but probably could have gotten away without it.
  6. Then you just stack it all, with noodles on the bottom, broth, a teepee of mushrooms, and the garnish herbs and jalapeño.

I’m serious, man, this is one of the most flavorful soups I have ever made.  And it’s one of the few soups that is as good the first day as it is the second.  The key is the broth, which is just a vault of scents and tastes that are neither timid or overpowering. One of these days I’ll actually get to try some real Pho, and then I can see how close I actually came. IMG_7333

Faux-Pho, Fo’ Real, Yo.

[For the original, meat-based Paleo pho, click here.]

Super Easy Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

(From Jamey Bennett to Daniel Larkin, via iMessage)

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So easy I’m going to text it to you.

    • One 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil,
    • one 14 oz. can of coconut cream (coconut milk would work too, but I like Trader Joe’s coconut cream, it’s thicker)
    • Oops
    • 14 oz. water (use the empty cream can),
    • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar,
    • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning,
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes,
    • about 3 or 4 cloves minced garlic.
    • And black pepper to taste.

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Combine all in a pot stirring at high heat until nearly boiling, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. I served it with potato pancakes. Fantastic.

Should serve about 4 bowls.

Paleo Phở with Bonus Slow Cooker Bone Broth

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from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

Dude,
I had a great idea tonight to try out a low carb and paleo pho. Last week I made some pastured organic chicken bone broth, and I was trying to figure out what to do with it, then it popped into my head to make some pho! I will definitely make this again. Also, while it kinda sounds like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, it’s quite simple.

Let me start with the broth. Of course, one could always buy a store-broth, but I like to have more control over that, and the health benefits are so much higher from a fresh homemade broth than the high sodium stuff you get in a can. I generally seek out grass-fed beef bones for broth, the omega-3:6 profile is so much better than with chicken, but this was a healthy chicken, so I feel good about it. Essentially, I just put a chicken in the slow cooker all day with a little bit of salt, strained out the meat at the end of the day and had that with dinner. I left the bones in, put in a few cups of water, and added the neck, carrots, celery, parsley, a bay leaf, and a handful of other brothy things, and let it go all night. Strained out the solid matter, and I had a delicious broth.

photo 2

I’ve never done pho at home before, so I did a lot of googling of what other people do for their pho and I devised my own from common themes. In no particular order, the ingredients I put together are:

  • 3 cups homemade bone broth
  • Shiritaki noodles (Miracle Noodle fettucini style, or if carbs are your thing, white rice noodles)
  • About 12 ounces thinly sliced sirloin or skirt steak
  • 1 portabella mushroom
  • Five Spice Seasoning Powder (several varieties should be available in the International Asian-ish section of most conventional grocers, just make sure it has at least anise and cinnamon)
  • 4 tablespoons Fish sauce (watch out for added sugars and either find one with little or no sugar, or just limit yourself to 2 tablespoons…four tastes so great, it’s a small sacrifice 😛 )
  • Two small to medium white or yellow onions
  • A heaping cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 radish
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • Two jalapenos (I got green and red for color)
  • Salt and pepper (I used regular sea salt and charcoalized black sea salt from Hawaii, but use whatever)
  • 4 Scallions
  • Minced garlic to taste
  • Cilantro (basil works, too, for cilantro haters)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into four pieces
  • Optional: Sriracha

Prep the meat by poking with a fork or pounding it with a meat mallet to tenderize it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of each piece, and set aside.

Slice the mushroom, onions, radish, jalapenos, scallions, and cilantro and set aside. Also mince the ginger and cut the lime.

Heat up a skillet, super hot, use whatever fat you want, lard, coconut oil, whatever…we’re going for smoke point here. Breaking some rules. It’s okay though. Just this once. Sear the thin beef, 10-15 seconds on each side, 30 seconds if you aren’t blazing hot. Take the pieces aside, and slice thin-ish strips against the grain.

photo 1

Oil that skillet back up with some lard or whatever, reduce the temperature to low to medium. Throw in the onions. Give them a minute or two head start. Add the sliced radish and mushroom. Eventually After 4 or 5 minutes, whatever, just make sure you like how the onions are looking, slowly add the garlic and ginger. This is one of those low heat is best treatments. When everything is looking good, slowly stir in the bone broth. Up the heat, bring to a boil, and then scale back to simmer.

Now it’s time to work on the noodles. If you go rice noodle, just follow directions on the package. But I prefer my shirataki noodles, and here’s a brief primer on preparing them. The ones I buy come in a bag, wet, with a solution that smells fishy at first. So what I like to do is rinse them in a collander for about fifteen seconds, and I like to take kitchen scissors and put a few cuts in the middle to make the noodles a bit shorter. Boil them for one minute in water, strain them again in a collander, then throw them back in an empty pan for about thirty seconds to sort of dry them. Set aside.

Now you’ve had five or ten minutes go by with the simmering vegetables and broth. Throw in the jalapenos (deseed them if you want a milder pho), stir in a teaspoon of the seasoning powder, a little bit of salt, and four tablespoons of fish sauce. Taste the broth. Tweak as necessary, but it should be tasting pretty darn good now. Give it a few or five minutes. Add the beef. Give that a couple minutes. Add the bean sprouts.

After about a total of twenty minutes (from the time you added the broth), you should be good. Separate the noodles between bowls (this amount is about four bowls of pho), and spoon out the goods. Garnish generously with scallions and cilantro (or basil), squeeze a lime on top, and if you need an extra kick, add some sriracha.

If you’re willing to accept the challenge, this could be our first paleo-vegetarian challenge. You could easily up the mushrooms and axe the meat, but finding a fish sauce and vegetable broth sub might be more difficult.

Let me know! And enjoy.

PS. If I had it to do over, I’d do more broth, and would have to adjust the seasoning and fish sauce.

Sent from my iPad

from: Daniel Larkin
to: Jamey Bennett

When the hell did Sriracha become optional?

I did a little research, and it looks like veggie fish sauce does exist, so I’m going to try this. If I can’t find any packaged vegan fish sauce, I’ll try to make it. (That may be a blog post in it’s own right.) I’ve been wanting to figure out a way to crust up tofu like a good seared steak. This may be the time to do it, although I may have to use the tofu as a topping rather than cooking it in the sauce for the last few minutes.

Who knows? I can plan all I want, but I know it’ll all be made up as I go along on the day of.

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin 

Yeah, I think a couple of the recipes I read said to just mix the beef in at the end, and I think I even saw one that said to serve the beef raw. I just wanted to make sure the beef was served warm!

West African Peanut Soup

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Dude,

I’ve only just discovered African food in the last year or so, and I am a huge fan of what I’ve had. My exposure is still pretty much limited to Ethopian food and Harissa sauce. The nearby Whole Foods carries a couple of kinds of Harissa, and I’m in love with the one from a DC area company, Cava. Soon, I’m going to try my hand at making my own Harissa.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying a bowl of this delicious peanut soup. I got the idea from the Eating Well website, but I made a few modifications that I think made a big difference.

Here it is. I took two sizable sweet potatoes, poked a few holes in them with a fork, and microwaved them for 8-1/2 minutes. While that was happening, I sauteed the equivalent of a small red onion (diced) in my cast iron skillet with oil. As the onions were browning, I threw in two large garlic cloves, diced.

After everything looked and smelled the way I wanted, I added 1-1/2 cups of ketchup and 1-1/2 cups of water. The recipe actually called for tomato juice, but I didn’t have any, and I thought it might be reminiscent of barbecue sauce if I used ketchup. Not very West African, I know, but I think it was actually a good choice.

After a minute or so, I added a handful of jarred sliced jalapenos, 1 teaspoon of ginger powder, and 1 teaspoon of all spice.

While I let all that boil for about 10 minutes, I peeled the sweet potatoes, dicing one to small bite-sized pieces and putting the other in my food processor. I added 1/2 cup of all natural chunky peanut butter to the food processor, and 2 cups of broth. I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand, so I did the next best thing and used a tomato-chicken buillion cube, dissolved in two cups of hot water. Once blended, I put that mixture, and the chunky sweet potato into the skillet. Stirred. Lots of stirring.

Now, this is where things get a little less precise and a little more creative. I thought it was too thick, so I added another cup of water. I didn’t think it was spicy enough, so I added paprika, cayenne, and crushed red pepper to taste, along with a fairly generous amount of fresh ground black pepper.

Once everything tasted about right, I spooned it into a bowl, and garnished with cilantro.

Okay, now I’m going to go eat a second bowl.

SOUPS!

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett 

It’s downright shameful how long it’s been since we swapped recipes – picture texts and Facebook bragging not withstanding.  I’ve been on a huge homebrewing and comfort food tear lately, and I’m finally at a breathing point where I can record it all.

So it’s officially soup season, and this is the first year I really feel like I’ve embraced the bowl and spoon with any modicum of success.  I’ve already described my chicken soup in an earlier email, but I’ve got two more for you – a beef and barley stew that I randomly threw together and a vegetarian butternut squash and pear soup that I used to make at the Red Rooster Diner in Nashville.  Both are astonishingly good, and both will warm you to your cockles this winter.  Yeah, I said cockles.

First off, the Beef and Barley Stew.  It’s super simple, and the prep work can be done in 30 minutes or less.  The stew itself should cook for at least four hours, but I like to prep it in the morning and let it go all day.  Peasant food was the original, “set it and forget it” theme in the kitchen.

  • 1 qt chicken stock – homemade if you’ve got it, it makes ALL the difference in the world.
  • 1 lb lean sirloin steak, diced into small cubes, salted and peppered and spread across a pan to reach room temperature.
  • 1/2 stick butter.
  • 1 pack beef bones (I recently noticed that most grocery stores sell large bone scraps for stewing, usually in packs of about a pound.  A few of these in the pot with everything else transforms your chicken stock into a mighty warrior of deliciousness.  And they’re dirt cheap.)
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 ribs of celery diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomato with liquids
  • 1 fistful of pearl barley
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 bottle Guinness Stout

You can see where this is going, and I probably don’t even need to continue.  But here it is anyway.

In an oven safe pot with a good fitting lid, brown the beef cubes in the butter on high heat – set aside.

Sauté celery, onions, carrots, and garlic on remaining butter and fat for a few minutes.

Toss the beef back into the pan, and add the stock, Guinness, tomatoes, beef bones, red pepper flakes, and barley and bring to a boil.

Toss the simmering mix into the oven at 220º and let it go as long as you can – four hours minimum.  Remove the beef bones when it’s done, and salt and pepper to taste.

This is such a well rounded stew, nutritiously and flavor-wise.  I recently took a Thermos of it to Ramsey Cascade Falls in the Smoky Mountains, and it was almost as good as the view.

OK, to the second soup, Butternut Squash and Pear.  I used to make this at a little diner on the West Side of Nashville, and it always stuck with me as a favorite.  Easy to make, and it can be ready in under an hour.  I can’t believe it took me this long to make it again.

  • 1 medium butternut squash peeled, cored and diced into approximately 1-inch squares.
  • 4 pears, peeled, cored, and diced small.
  • 2 small onions diced
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, approximately 6-inches, whole.
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Sugar or honey to taste – if the pears are good, you shouldn’t need much
  • Heavy cream – less than a cup

The rest is simple.

Sauté the squash, pears and onions in butter until the onion is translucent.

Add stock, rosemary and cinnamon and simmer for 20 minutes, or until squash is done/mashable.

Remove the rosemary sprig and run that shit through a blender or food processor until it’s smooth.

Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.  You’re looking for more balanced comfort than sweet.

(An optional step here is to simmer it again on low heat for another 30 minutes or so, but it’s not 100% necessary)

Finish off with a touch of cream to round it out.

I like to serve this garnished with a dollop of sour cream on top, just to contrast the slight sweetness of the squash and pear.  Jenny and I ate this on Christmas Eve alongside my sad attempt at a rustic bread loaf.  It was delicious, though, and the subtle fruit, squash and rosemary flavors are all intrinsically winter for me.  mmmm…..

Enjoy, hombre.

Squash Stuffing, Roast Chicken and Chicken Soup

from Daniel Larkin 4:39 PM (16 hours ago)
to Jamey Bennett

What’s up, dude?  How’s the double shift lifestyle been treating you?  Work seems to be picking up, as long as the engineers can stay on top of the scheduling.  I’m hopeful that a five day work week is around the corner, so fingers crossed.

In food news, though, I’m officially obsessed with roasting chickens.  Being married to a vegetarian, I don’t come across too many occasions to cook a whole bird, but I got a wild urge to roast one last week and followed through.  When I get into the mood for chicken, it’s usually accompanied by a craving for stuffing.  I’ve adapted a pretty solid vegetarian stovetop stuffing recipe so Jenny can jam on it too.  We had a regular Thanksgiving.

So in order of everything, here’s a quick rundown of the stuffing.

Stuffing

For the bread, I raided the freezer and ended up with about 6 hoagie rolls (white, wheat and sesame) and two hamburger buns.  I cut them into cubes between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch, and toasted them in the oven at 250º until they were nice and dry.
Other ingredients are

  • Handful of walnuts
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • Real maple syrup
  • Half a large yellow onion
  • One rib of celery
  • One medium carrot, or about 8 baby carrots
  • Garlic
  • Vegetable stock
  • Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage

I cut a butternut squash in half, peeled the solid top, and cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices.  (I stopped about an inch short of the stem) I brushed the slices with real maple syrup, sprinkled on salt and pepper, and then roasted them at 450º until they were cooked but still firm.  When the slices were cool enough, I cut them into 1/4-inch cubes.  Immediately after I pulled the squash from the oven, I threw a handful of chopped walnuts into the oven on a separate pan and roasted these for a few minutes.

In buttered pan, I sauteed the chopped onion, chopped celery, chopped baby carrots, and three cloves of garlic minced.  I also included about a 6-inch sprig of fresh rosemary, about five 4-inch sprigs of thyme, and three sage leaves, all chopped finely.  Oh yeah, and salt and pepper.

When all of this looked about done, I added the roasted walnuts, the par cooked squash cubes, a little more butter and a light drizzle of male syrup.  I sauteed this for another minute and pulled it off to cool.

Then in a large stock pot, I combined the dried bread cubes and vegetable mix – tossing by hand until everything was mixed.  When it was time to cook, I slowly heated the pot on the stove and gradually added vegetable stock until I found the right consistency.  The key is to go slowly, because you can alway add more liquid, but you can’t remove it without cooking the whole thing to mush.

But it’s chicken time.

I would be willing to bet that my approach to roasting a chicken is similar to yours.  Buy a good bird, and just don’t screw it up with a bunch of extras.

All I did was wash it, drizzle the skin and cavity with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stuffed it with a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary and a few sage leaves.  I also cut a lemon in half, squeezed some juice on the skin, and then stuffed the two halves in the cavity, with the larger end plugging the bird’s ass.  I roasted the chicken in a disposable aluminum pan for 105 minutes without once basting it.  It was seriously the most moist white meat I’ve ever eaten, and the hint of lemon and herbs was fantastic!

Hold on, now there’s soup!

I collected all the extra fat and liquids from the roasting pan and put them in a large metal container.  I quartered the bird and put the main carriage (skeleton) in with the juices, lemon and herbs and set this all in the fridge.  I ate on the chicken for four days, and every time I would finish a quarter, I would toss the bones and extra meat in with the carriage and juices.

A few days after finishing the chicken, I removed as much meat as I could from the carcass and bones and set it aside on a plate. I put the bones in a two quart pot topped off with water; then I began the boil.  I also included half of the lemon in the mix, but I took out a lot of the herbs.  When I had lost roughly 1/3 of the liquid to evaporation, I added about 8 oz of homebrewed ESB and kept boiling.  (I’ve made similar soup using A LOT more homebrew, but I was running low this time.)

I salted the stock lightly and tasted often.  When I had the flavor I was looking for, I strained off the liquid and picked off whatever meat had separated during the boil.  Then I threw the bones away.  Since I had just strained the liquid into a separate jar, I used the two quart pot to sauté some carrots, celery and onion in butter.  When the veggies were almost done, I added all of the meat into the mix and cooked it a bit more.  Then I just added the stock back in and simmered everything for about 10 more minutes.

Jamey, this might have been the best soup I’ve had in years.  The light lemon flavor and the fat of the olive oil and butter were a perfect match.  The chicken meat was tender, and I could have drank the broth all day.

It’s a long email, I know.  But next time you roast a chicken, this is a guaranteed way to perfect soup.  My initial plan was to add noodles, but I never missed them.  Who needs chicken noodle soup when chicken soup is better?