Baking with Mrs Bouw: Homemade Chicken 'Bouw' Soup!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

With the sudden onset of the much cooler weather here in Chicago (seriously, it was 30 degrees one day and an icy 13 degrees the next... um, hello Melbourne! hee hee), I was craving some good old homemade chicken noodle soup! Growing up, my Mum would make variations of this soup including one recipe where she would make her own egg noodles and another recipe where she would replace the noodles with home made semolina dumplings... yum! As a child, I particularly loved the dumplings and they were always the first thing I would ask for if I was feeling a little under the weather. It's also one dish that makes me feel a little closer if I am missing home :) I decided to replace to traditional noodles with mini farfalle because they are simply just easier for the girls to spoon out themselves (and because us 'Bouws' love our bows) ;) Keeping in mind that I had the girls to consider, I kept this recipe pretty simple but you can add other veggies if you please (i.e. parsnip or onions etc.) along with any other herbs and spices that take your fancy! Oh and I also cheated today and bought a roasted chook from Wholefoods instead of cooking my own (I usually use around three chicken marylands). I just love having a big pot of soup in the fridge as it means I usually get a couple of dinners out of eat (or maybe a lunch or two) and don't have the stress of cooking and cleaning up at the end of a busy day! Plus, homemade soup really is food for the soul isn't it :)
    

Home Made Chicken 'Bouw' Soup

Ingredients

1 tbs olive oil
1 litre of chicken stock
3 cubes of chicken bouillon (stock cubes) I always throw in a couple of these because they add a little more depth to the stock
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped (I added a few carrot hearts just for the girls)
1 small bunch of celery (roughly six long pieces), washed and chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
6 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of mini farfalle or pasta of your choice
1 store bought rotisserie chicken
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

- Place olive oil and a splash of chicken stock in a large pot on low heat.

- Add the carrot and celery and sautee for roughly one minute.

- Add the remaining stock, bouillon cubes, parsley and water and simmer on low heat for 30-40 mins.

Note: this soup can be whipped up in no time but if you want that authentic homemade taste, the longer you simmer, the better. I usually make mine during the day and by dinner time the flavours are amazing.

- Once the vegetables have softened and have been simmering for a generous amount of time, turn up the heat a little and add you pasta.

- Remove skin from your chicken and then using your hands pull off all the meat you would like to add. I used the breast and thigh meat and left the wings and drumsticks for Mr B to gnaw on when he gets home ;)

- Again, for a more authentic feel, instead of using a knife I use my hands to break the chicken up in small bite sized/shred like pieces.

- Throw the chicken into the pot and reduce heat back down to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste. I'm not usually a big fan of black pepper but I think it is a must in this recipe.

- Once the pasta has cooked through I like to turn it off and let it sit in the pot for a while and then slightly reheat again before serving. The true flavours will well and truly be there by this point.

- Serve with a piece of fresh bread and butter.

- Enjoy! :)


Sorrow shared...

Friday, September 12, 2014

This post is so far left of centre compared to my usual topics but sorrow shared is sorrow halved right? My heart has felt so very heavy these last few weeks. It seems that every second day has brought sad news as I have found myself sending messages of comfort and condolence more often than not. Almost every few days it seems. And then last Thursday, the weight of sorrow became a little too heavy for this usually hopeful, happy heart of mine... and for the first time in a long time, my spirit, and maybe my heart, feels broken.

If you take away the fact that we were holidaying and honeymooning in an incredible part of the world, last Thursday started like most days. I woke before my alarm (because let's face it, once you have kids you won't be needing one for a long while) and like most mornings, I am the filling in an Allegra and Anya sandwich. Knees in the back, legs streched out horizonatlly across my body. But despite all of the discomfort and despite the fear that us parents encounter at the thought of prematurely waking our little ones, there is no where else I would rather have been. I strategically reached for my phone (yep, I've lost all ability to sleep in these days, even if I am dog tired) and opened up the usuals to catch up on what I'd missed over night. I opened up Facebook and was delighted to see a notification from one of my best friends. She always has something funny to tell me, or some kind of lousy gossip that has us emailing back and forth giggling away like we are still the same naughty girls back in high school. But as my eyes skimmed over her words, my brain could not compute what I was reading. I read it again. And again. And again.

This is the same friend who's comforting voice was the first I heard on the other end of the phone fourteen years ago as I sat in the back seat of the car as my Mum drove us home from the hospital. And I remember it like it was yesterday. All of it. I remember the last few weeks. Because despite being given a 12-18 month diagnosis, that's all it was, a couple of weeks. And I remember those last 48 hours the most... because what I saw and what I felt, that is what nightmares are made of. Whilst I am absolutely grateful to have been there to say a proper goodbye, watching my Dad take his last breath is something that still makes me short of mine when I think about it. And I also remember choking on the words 'he's gone' when I answered my friends call that Thursday afternoon all those years ago. So now, fast forward fourteen years, to read the words that my dear old friend had just suddenly and unexpectedly lost her Mum, well, it flicked a switch. Sandwiched in bed, whilst my three loves slept, I wept. And so did mother nature. It had been a sunshine dream every day since arriving in Mexico but not that Thursday. It rained and it poured well into the night. And the wind and the waves... they were violent and angry and sad. Selfishly, I cried for a good hour before I made my great escape out of bed and called my friend. I needed to find some composure because I'm always the composed one... aren't I? The thing about our friendship is that no matter the distance or time or place, 'we' are always the same. Not many words were needed which I think was a relief, for both of us. After our call I did what makes sense to me. I went to burn off some of the pain and anguish. I adjusted the spin bike in the resort's gym and instead of playing my 'gym' mix I did what many of us crazy woman do in time of crisis, I played my 'depressing sure to make me cry even more' mix. And that's just what I did. I sat amongst a dozen strangers with my head dipped below my cap, my bike spun, and so did my head. And with every push of the pedal I felt my heartstrings pull. And I cried some more.

And tonight, just over a week later as I sit here and type this my friend is saying her final goodbyes to her Mum. I should be there and that breaks my heart a little more. I am so sorry that I am not.

I've felt very fragile this last week and some other news this morning (which hits too close to home to discuss right now) has only added to my fragility. I was just 16 years old when I lost my Dad and despite thinking I was so mature at the time, I was just a girl. Now I am grown, a woman, a wife, a mother, I think my heart is mourning the loss of my father all over again. It hurts just as much as an adult. Somehow, even more. And it is also mourning for those close to me who have lost and will lose. Because to know the pain that they will encounter is sometimes just a little too much.

Tonight whilst the girls were in the bath Allegra turned to me and asked 'You're never going to die, right Mum?!' I looked at her and said hopefully not until I'm really old and really wrinkly and she then replied 'well, it's ok Mum, because I will die too one day and then I will see you in heaven anyway, and Wolfgang too'. Wolfgang is my Dad's name. I'm not overly religious, but I hope she is right about the heaven part.

I'm not sure that this post really has an end point. I think I just needed to spill these words and a few more tears. For me, for my family, for my friend and for her Mum. Because sorrow shared is sorrow halved right? I've been counting my blessings a lot lately and I know I have so much to be grateful for. And it is the love of these blessings that will help heal the little cracks in my heart. So go and hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Every single day. Enjoy and live this precious life we have been given because it really is a gift. May your blessings keep your heart full... and in one piece xxx

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