chicken

home away from home soup

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Today has been one of those rare perfect days. 

I’m writing this from a picnic table in front of an old stone farmhouse in the Portuguese countryside. There’s a flawless blue sky overhead and a lazy breeze rocking the eucalyptus trees nearby. This morning, Beau and I walked to the beach where we watched the comings and goings of a flock of seagulls and listened to the waves roar in.

Later, we hopped in our rented station wagon and bobbed over country roads flanked by groves of cork oak trees. Our destination: a little restaurant housed in an old schoolhouse where we ordered a pile of fried fish and a bottle of crisp vinho verde to wash them down. Back at our guesthouse, I spent the afternoon lazing by the pool reading magazines and floating in and out of a delicious sleep. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It’s days like today that keep me yearning to travel. To discover more serene beaches and locals-only restaurants nestled along country roads. 

But of course, travel is not always as idyllic as this sun-kissed day in the Portuguese countryside. I’ve been on the road for over three weeks now and it’s had its inevitable ups and downs. In Paris, I led a culinary tour with my friend Rachael that was fantastic. And exhilarating. And a lot of work. Navigating a group of ten through Paris traffic is not exactly a walk in the park. And pinning down tour logistics with the maddeningly noncommittal French has it’s own set of unique challenges. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

As soon as the tour ended, Beau and I headed to Porto and Lisbon to explore, see friends and do research for my next Portugal tour. Until today, this trip has been a whirlwind of seeing and doing and eating and trekking through different cities. Somewhere along the way, I started to feel pretty frazzled. There’s something about being away from the rituals of home, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, eating strange foods, navigating foreign languages, that leaves me a little unmoored. A few days after we arrived in Portugal, I started waking up in the middle of the night feeling disoriented and anxious and longing to book the next flight home.

Luckily, I know what to do when I feel the travel blues coming on. I make this soup.

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It is decidedly un-fancy. A few humble vegetables cooked together in a bit of water to make a savory broth with some chicken and/or sausage thrown in for good measure. It’s restorative powers lie in this simplicity. After days (or weeks) of rich fare and exotic ingredients, it’s exactly what I want to eat.

I first made this soup a couple years ago while staying at an Airbnb rental in Paris. I’d just finished leading a culinary tour and couldn’t imagine eating one more eclair or croissant or charcuterie plate. I stopped in at the corner market beneath my apartment and threw this together with what I found there. A bowl of this simple, homey soup cured my malaise. Now it’s my go-to remedy when I’m traveling and feeling out of sorts. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Of course, you don’t need to be in a foreign country or fed up with French food to enjoy this soup. It will right your ship on a grey fall day or chill winter night. For me, this home-away-from-home soup (as I like to think of it) is a touchstone of sorts. A small ritual that anchors me when everything around me feels foreign. A brothy comfort that restores body and soul as only a warm bowl of homemade soup can.


Chilled Spring Greens Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Home Away From Home Soup with Cabbage, Kuri Squash, Linguiça and Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil + additional for drizzling
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green part only, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • Sea salt
  • ½ medium head savoy or green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • 1 medium kuri or kabocha squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel)
  • 2-3 small turnips, tops and tails removed and cut into ½-inch thick wedges
  • 6 medium tomatoes or 1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes (drained), roughly chopped
  • 6 oz linguiça or Portuguese-style cured chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • 2 cups leftover roasted chicken

*Note: Pretty much everything in this soup is optional or adaptable. If you don’t have a leek, use a small onion. If you don’t like cabbage, use kale or another green you prefer. Sub potatoes for turnips if you want. Leave out the chicken and sausage (and maybe add a small handful of green lentils) for a vegan version. The version here is the one I first made and the one I always come back to. But feel free to experiment and make this soup your own.

- This was the first time I added sausage to the soup. In the past I've always made it with chicken. But since we're in Portugal, I threw in some sliced linguiça we had in the fridge. I think the smokiness of the sausage adds delicious depth of flavor the soup. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and a sprinkle of salt and cook for a few minutes until the leek is starting to get soft. Add the cabbage, squash, turnips, tomatoes and sausage along with 4 cups of water. Salt to taste. Bring to the boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the red pepper and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes or so. 

Add another cup or two of water if you like your soup on the brothy side like I do. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Continue to cook the soup until the vegetables are as tender as you like them. Sometimes I like them tender-crisp (this yields a prettier soup) and sometimes I like them super-soft (which is not as bright in color, but more comforting somehow).

Serve soup hot with a nice drizzle of olive oil over the top.

Makes 4-6 servings.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

As promised, this week I have a fantastic recipe for you from my friend Kyle. For those of you who don't know him, Kyle currently runs the kitchen at The London Plane and has honed his skills cooking at Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Building and Le Pichet. He's the real deal: a first-rate chef, a teller of cheesy jokes, a connoisseur of dope sneakers. In short, an all-around a cool guy. 

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

He came over last week and cooked this Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey. And holy crap was it good. I never get that excited about roasted chicken. Because how sexy can chicken be, right? Well I’m here to tell you this is one sexy bird.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Kyle roasted our chicken to golden perfection, perched it atop a pile of tender English peas smashed with crème fraîche and garnished it with tart roasted rhubarb and spicy-sweet aleppo honey. Gorgeous? Yes. Delicious? Yup. Easy? It came together in under an hour start-to-finish. 

So this weekend, I urge you to go forth and roast up this chicken while there’s still some rhubarb kicking around at the market. (If there’s no more rhubarb where you live, I’m thinking some tart cherries would be brilliant, too.)

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

And for all my Seattle-area people, Kyle and I are hosting an al fresco pop-up dinner on August 6th! We’ll be preparing a seasonal, family-style meal and serving it to you under the summer stars. So gather up your people and come sit at our table for a leisurely evening of food, wine and new friends! 

Menu, details and registration are here. I hope to see some of your lovely faces there!

xo,

Olaiya


Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Roasted Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey

  • 1 whole chicken, halved or butterflied
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 lbs. English peas, shelled
  • ½ cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream in a pinch)
  • 1 ½ lbs. rhubarb, trimmed
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (or other chili flake)
roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Roast the chicken: Liberally season your chicken with salt on all sides. There shouldn't be any bare spaces nor any sections with clumps of salt. Let your chicken sit out at room temperature until your oven is preheated. This gives the salt a little bit of time to permeate the meat. Alternately, you can salt your chicken up to 12 hours in advance. Store it in the fridge until about an hour before you plan to cook it.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If possible set up the rack roughly 4-6 inches below the top of the oven. (Heat rises, so keeping it this close to the top will help your bird get that golden, crispy skin you are looking for.)

Once the oven is preheated, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut your garlic heads in half crosswise to expose all the cloves on both cut sides. Set the garlic cut-side-up and half of the thyme in the center of the sheet pan. Coat your chicken with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and rest it on top of the garlic and thyme. 

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Roast for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your bird. The skin should be lightly golden brown and crispy. If you feel worried about the doneness cut into the skin between the leg and the breast; the juices that come out should run clear. If there is a tiny pink hue, don't worry--the chicken will continue to cook as it rests. Let your chicken rest for at least 5 minutes. Don’t cheat and cut into the meat early as you will loose all your delicious juices! Reserve any drippings on the sheet pan to add to your honey later.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare your peas: Fill a large saucepan about ¾ full with water. Place over high heat and season the water so it taste salty like the sea. (They key to proper blanching of vegetables is having a good size pot, well seasoned water, and a rolling boil when you drop your veg in.)

When the water comes to a boil, set up a medium bowl with ice water so when your peas are done they can go immediately into the cold water. This shocks them and keeps them from overcooking. Drop your peas into the boiling water and cook for roughly 4-6 minutes. Your peas should be bright green and just tender. Pull them from the water and transfer to the ice bath. Once cooled, strain your peas. Reserve about ¼ cup for garnish and place the rest in a medium bowl with the crème fraîche. Mash them with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon. Add another pinch of salt if needed. Set aside.

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

Roast the the rhubarb: Cut the stalks on the bias into 2-inch pieces. Toss with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and a light pinch of salt then spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan. When the chicken is almost done roasting, place the rhubarb in the oven. Roast until it’s lightly caramelized, but still holds it’s shape, about 10 minutes. Take care not to overcook the rhubarb or it will turn to mush.

While the chicken is resting, prepare the honey sauce: Place the honey, aleppo, remaining 6 sprigs thyme and any juices from the cooked chicken in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to bring the flavors together.

To serve: Cut the chicken into quarters. Divide the smashed peas between 4 plates, top with the chicken, roasted rhubarb and reserved whole peas. Drizzle with aleppo honey and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings
Recipe by Kyle Wisner

roasted chicken with smashed peas, rhubarb and aleppo honey on millys-kitchen.com

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup to cure what ails you

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

A couple Saturdays ago, I found myself on the couch, curled up with my cat, Loulou, reading cookbooks. The sky had been sheathed in grey for days and I was fending off a beast of a headcold. Beau had packed himself off to the movies.

While paging through the stellar My Portugal by George Mendes, we happened upon a recipe for chicken soup. Juicy shreds of chicken floating in a beautiful golden broth, enriched with orzo and flecked with parsley, mint, dill and chives. Inspired by that gorgeous bowl of soup, I decided it was a chicken soup sort of day and that Loulou and I would be devoting our afternoon to cooking a pot of that time-tested cure-all. 

Too sluggish to head into uncharted territory, I closed My Portugal and gathered the ingredients for my own chicken soup.

This simple soup changes with the seasons, agreeably accepting whatever’s fresh at the market. Asparagus and English peas in the spring. Snap beans and herb pesto in the summer. Hearty greens in the fall and winter months.

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

I am horribly (superstitiously, irrationally) averse to any sort of soggy starch in my soup, which means I often stick to hearty grains like farro and barley. If a starch is prone to mushiness, I cook it separately and stir it into bowls of steaming soup just before serving.

While rooting around in the pantry for a sturdy starch to add along with the beet tops I found in the fridge, I remembered that my great grandma Phoebe made chicken soup with fat, homemade egg noodles that were impervious to bloat and sog. And that I had inherited her dog-eared kitchen handbook, The American Woman’s Cookbook, published in 1946, and a thick bundle of her handwritten recipes. 

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

Unlike Milly, Phoebe was neither sweet nor grandmotherly. She had an eagle eye for dirty fingernails and improperly tamed curls, and never failed to call these (and other) oversights to one’s attention. She started her family in 1930s Chicago, the young wife of an irascible and alcoholic mechanic. I always felt that this experience, living through the crucible of the Depression, shaped her into the guarded, frugal, God-fearing woman I knew as a child. I think because she couldn’t express her love very easily with words, she loved us through food. She was a fine cook and whenever I visited, she proferred iced oatmeal cookies, quivering bowls of ambrosia salad, dense slices of walnut-studded banana bread, and rich meatloaves bound with saltines and capped with a thick glaze of Heinz ketchup.

And sometimes, at family luncheons, there was her chicken soup. Carrot. Onion. Celery. Stock. Chicken. And thick, homemade noodles. Nothing more.

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen
old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

I don’t think I appreciated how good that soup was until I got older and discovered the many bland and marshy permutations of chicken noodle soup. Canned versions wanting for chunks of tender chicken and substituting salt for true flavor. Cafeteria versions with limp noodles floating sadly in a mysteriously gelatinous broth. Dehydrated instant versions, thin as tap water. Grandma Phoebe’s soup was none of these, thanks largely to the toothsome, hand-rolled noodles she made for it.

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

So I dug out her cookbook and recipes and sorted through the yellowing scraps of paper filled with her precise cursive. Applesauce Upside-Down Cake. Baked Ham. Bible verses. Tea Biscuits. Her famous Banana Nut Bread. A calendar page from 1959 indicating her work schedule at the Bloomingdale’s glove counter. Two different recipes for something called Paradise Salad, fashioned with both mayonnaise and Cool Whip. And two slips of paper with “Noodles” penned simply across the top. 

As I sifted through the recipes, deciphering her notes to herself (“This cake is VERY good!”, “Aunt Eva’s fudge”, “Cheri loves this one...”), I realized how precious these slips of paper housed in an old ziploc bag are to me. How they are a sort of culinary family tree, with notes on who liked what and which recipe had been handed down by whom. They allow me to make Aunt Eileen’s Peanut Butter Crunch or my Grandma Milly’s pie crust or Phoebe’s black walnut cake. And through the mixing and the folding and the baking, know them a tiny bit more. 

As I stirred and kneaded and rolled Phoebe’s noodles, I thought of her and her life. And the ways I did and did not know her. I added those golden noodles to my own chicken soup and as I sat down to eat a bowl, I felt myself quietly on the mend. 


old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

Old-Fashioned Egg Noodles

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted and slightly cooled chicken fat, lard or butter (or neutral-tasting cooking oil)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

*NOTE: I like to roll these noodles out by hand like my great grandma did, but you can use a pasta machine if you like. Just don’t get them too thin; the goal is to have a toothsome, sturdy noodle when you’re done.

 

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen


Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. You can continue to mix the dough in the bowl or transfer the flour mixture to the center of a large work surface. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and crack the eggs into the well. Pour the liquid fat into the eggs.

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

Using a fork, beat the eggs and fat together. Incorporate the flour mixture by gradually grabbing it from the inner rim of the well. When the flour is incorporated, use a bench scraper to gather the dough into a ball. Transfer it to a clean, well-floured work surface. Knead the dough, incorporating more flour as necessary until it is no longer sticky. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. The kneading should take about 10 minutes total. Generously flour the ball of dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to roll out the noodles, divide the dough into six pieces. Work with only one piece at a time and keep the others tightly covered so they don’t dry out. Lightly flour your work surface and stretch the dough into a roughly 6x4 inch rectangle with the short side closest to you. Fold it in thirds like an envelope and roll it out to a rectangle again. This helps strengthen the dough so it doesn’t rip when you roll it out. You can rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat this process if it still feels tacky.

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

Roll the dough into a large rectangle about ⅛-inch thick. Use a knife or pizza cutter to slice the dough into noodles about ⅓-inch wide. You can cook the noodles immediately or hang them to dry (I use a repurposed laundry rack). When dried completely, they will store indefinitely in an air-tight container (I use a mason jar).
 
Even though the noodles will remain sturdy when added to soup, I cook them separately in salted water so the excess flour that sticks to them won’t make my soup cloudy.

Makes about 1 lb dried noodles

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 recipe old-fashioned egg noodles (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half-moons
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 8 cups best quality chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 lb chicken breast or thighs
  • 1 bunch hearty greens such as kale, Swiss chard or beet tops, stems removed and torn into large pieces
  • About 4 cups cooked egg noodles

 

Heat the fat in a heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek, carrot, celery, thyme and bay. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until the vegetables have softened, but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the stock, bring the soup to a simmer, then add the chicken. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just cooked through, 15-20 minutes. You can check to see if the chicken is done by removing it and cutting into it with a paring knife. If using breast meat, take extra care not to overcook it as it gets dry and stringy. You want it to be completely opaque, without any traces of pink but still juicy. When it is cooked through, remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut it into ½-inch cubes. Use your fingers to shred the cubed chicken if you like. 

Add the greens to the soup and cook until tender. Add the noodles and the chicken and simmer until heated through and the flavors have come together, a few minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings

old-fashioned egg noodles + chicken soup // milly's kitchen