It feels like I've been sick for 3/4 of this school year. Not just mildly maybe-it's-allergies sick, but like really, REALLY, sick. On the bright side, my students thoroughly enjoy telling me I look like shit. "Ms. Vargo, you look terrible." "Ms. Vargo, you shouldn't come to school tomorrow." Ms. Vargo, what's wrong with your face?" "Ms. Vargo, do you need to go to the bathroom?" "Ehhh Ms. Vargo, are you sick?!" To which I reply, "Yes, you little germ bag. I am sick. Probably from grading your sticky, fingerprinted, mystery-smeared papers every day. Now do your work or I'll breathe on you." Not really, but that's what I want to say. So, after finding myself sick yet again, and with only 3 weeks left in the school year, all I wanted was some healing chicken soup. Being the food nerd that I am, I decided to make it from scratch, home-roasted chicken and all.
If you've never roasted a chicken before, I highly recommend you try. It's super cheap (this one cost me $5), it's vey easy, it can feed a crowd, and the results are totally impressive. I always use the simple recipe I got from one of my favorite cookbooks, Nigella Lawson's How To Eat, as the jumping off point for my roast chicken. It's has ALWAYS resulted in a perfect bird, even the very first time I tried it.
While the chicken was in the oven, I put together the broth for my soup using a few asian flavors like fresh ginger and soy sauce. After I took the chicken out to rest, I added some udon noodles, shittake mushrooms, and a few spoonfuls of chicken drippings from the bottom of the roasting dish. Then I ate about a square foot of crispy chicken skin. Then I ripped up some dark meat, threw it in the pot, and voila! Something to nourish my poor broken body. DISCLAIMER: I actually can't smell anything right now, because of sick, so my sense of taste may not be excellent. But my roommate tasted it and said it was good so I took her word for it.
You know something? I'm already feeling a little bit better. It must be the ginger. Or the broth. Or the chicken skin! Or maybe it's the fact that I'm at home and I left all my yet-to-be-graded papers at school and I'm not planning on touching them for a few days. Or maybe it's the bottle of Zicam I pounded down in 2 days. I guess we'll never know.
Udon Noodle Soup with Roast Chicken
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How To Eat
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Take the gizzards out of the chicken cavity and set aside. Rinse the chicken under cold water and make sure all liquid is dumped out of the cavity. Place the chicken in an oven proof dish, breast side up.
2. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cut a lemon in half and a shallot in quarters and put the pieces inside the chicken. Place the gizzards in the dish alongside the chicken (to flavor the juices), along with some wedges of red cabbage. Tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine, or wrap them together with tin foil.
3. Put the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes for every pound it weighs, plus an additional 10 minutes. Chicken is done when you poke it and the juices run clear.
4. Let chicken sit on a cutting board for 10 minutes before cutting. Save drippings for making gravy or adding to soup, and set aside red cabbage for Udon Noodle Soup.
Udon Noodle Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped into coins
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1tbsp freshly grated ginger
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
red chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh shittake mushrooms, sliced
1 package udon noodles
4 scallions, chopped
roasted red cabbage
1. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat. When hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and ginger, and saute until onions are soft and translucent.
2. Pour chicken broth into the pot, bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Add soy sauce, chili pepper flakes to taste, and mushrooms. Cook on low heat with the lid on for at least 20 minutes.
3. When the chicken is done roasting, add a few spoonfuls of chicken drippings to the pot. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, tear chunks of meat off and add to the pot, along with the red cabbage (roasted with the chicken) and the udon noodles. Let stew on low for at least 5 more minutes.
4. When ready to serve, stir in chop scallions. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top to garnish. If you wish, add sriracha sauce to taste.