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Arts and Culture

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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My best cooking is usually born of not following a recipe.  In other words, I tend to make things up. I come by this honestly, really. My mother often didn’t follow recipes, either. The few recipes I have from her are a hodgepodge of guesses and tips from what I can remember or gleaned from questions asked, years later for clarification. 

My husband is a strict food-preparation-is-science kind of guy and so my son, well, he’s getting a hefty dose of both theories and usually comes out confused and not sure who to trust and emulate. But that, I believe, should be a story for another day.

 

This foray into making things up sometimes brings heartache to the kitchen. Inedible heartache and a quick change to a sudden fend for yourself dinner. But sometimes, it also brings some delightfully unexpected dishes.  Some absolute delicious-what-did-I-just-eat dishes that leave me hurrying to write down, to my best ability since memory space is full and faulty, every step on a hope and prayer I can replicate it down the line.

 

My most recent happy accident: chicken pot pie soup. 

 

I’m not certain the genesis of this particular dinner. I’m sure it was like most of the soups I make; a random mix of things needing to be used and a dinner that doesn’t need a lot of attention, but I know I was wanting to elevate my try. My made up soups are fine. Good, really. I have an arsenal of go-tos and they are always just what we need. But I knew they could be better and more flavorful and I’m almost certain that was the foundation this discovery was built on. I started an hour or so before dinner time. I took stock and decided with some leftover rotisserie chicken in the refrigerator and a child begging for homemade pot pie that I didn’t want to make, I would try to make the chicken pot pie filling into a soup.

 

I started with chopping up the leftover chicken and adding chicken broth into the pot. I chopped carrots and a leftover baked potato and added frozen peas and some corn from last summer’s harvest along with chopped onion. As I boiled this to soften the carrots, I whisked together a can of cream of chicken soup, that one sauce named after an English town that I can only pronounce like a cartoon and a little garlic salt and pepper. When that was mixed, I turned the heat down to a gentle simmer and slowly poured in the soup mixture. I then set the temp to low and let it meld for the next hour or so. Right before dinner, I boiled egg noodles and then folded them into the soup right before serving. The reviews were instantaneous! My husband and son both finished that first bowl, which I’m sure was served with my husband’s homemade bread, and immediately returned to the stove and dished seconds. Leftovers went quickly and I wrote everything down at the request of my husband. 

 

Since its conception, we’ve had this soup several more times. We’ve adjusted a few things, including using our pressure cooker to cook the carrots, potato and chicken in broth all together, making the overall process faster for those times we find ourselves devoid of the serendipitous leftovers but still want the soup. We’ve made it with and without the noodles and I’ve included a mental note to next try it with some type of dumplings when I am feeling ambitious. It became our go to as we travelled last fall to eat with my in-laws and my husband regularly requests it if soup is on the menu. I wrote the recipe down in our book. The amounts are approximations, but I made sure to write down the order of ingredients and how to cook them so that no vegetables are mush upon serving, but I’m wondering how many more notes will be added and taken away as I continue to experiment and perfect the dish.

 

I fear for the time my husband wants to make this without me. It’s definitely devoid of the detail he prefers when he cooks.  My son has already requested it for his recipe book I’m adding to, slowly and I wonder how to best write it down for him. Where a word or note is all I need, I’m certain he will need more. But mostly, I have renewed respect for all recipe writers. Even though I know my eyes are the only one using this and it will never show up on a glossy page, I still struggled how best to write it down. I can’t imagine having to work on an entire book devoted to detailed instruction. My experimental cooking habits weep at the thought.

 

Where do you find yourself on the scale? Free for all experiments or laser focused detail? Do you ever write down your happy kitchen accidents?