Monday, October 26, 2015

Gluten Free Creamy Chicken Soup

Cream of Chicken Soup is one of my all-time favorites when I'm sick, cold or anytime I need a bit of comfort that can only come from a steaming hot bowl of one's favorite soup. Though I'm quite satisfied with a can of soup or something otherwise pre-prepared when I'm too ill to bother with cooking, there's nothing quite like the flavors you get in a soup that's homemade. As I write this, I'm sitting at my dining table eating a bowl of this deliciously comforting soup that I warmed up for lunch - it really is good anytime.

When I was growing up, Cream of Chicken Soup was something only ever used in cooking in the households I frequented. It is, after all a rather highly required ingredient in many casseroles, pasta dishes and crock pot recipes. No one I knew ever ate it outright. I didn't actually try Cream of Chicken Soup on its own until I was in my mid-20's living in New York City. It was love at first bite and now I crave it all the time!

Traditional recipes of Cream of Chicken Soup seem to almost always include flour for a roux, meaning that the soup starts out life quite similarly to a thick sauce or a gravy. Always delicious and admittedly thicker, these soups are great however they wouldn't suit someone with a gluten-free diet and for me, that additional hassle isn't always something I want to fiddle with. For some, this recipe may be a bit too thin and runny and that's okay, but for that reason I haven't called this Cream of Chicken Soup because it's not quite… It's creamy, yes, but there's no point in being misleading. For me, this recipe is a lighter, easy-going version of something I want regularly throughout the year and this version will suit anyone who has eliminated wheat or glutens from their diet for one reason or another. 

Serves 10 − 12...

50g unsalted butter
4 shallots thinly sliced
1kg boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
1 1/2 litres good quality low-sodium, gluten-free chicken stock
500ml double cream
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy pan with a lid over medium heat. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes or until softened.

2. Add the chicken breasts whole, stock and a bit of salt & pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it starts to bubble away, reduce the heat back to low, clamp on the lid and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken pieces are cooked through.

3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside, being sure to leave any shallot pieces in the soup and not on the chicken.

4. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then blend the liquid until smooth and return to the pot on low or medium-low heat.

5. Meanwhile, chop the chicken into bite sized pieces being careful not to burn yourself. You can either neatly dice it, shred it with two forks or simply rough chop it, the latter being my preferred method. It's up to you. Return the chicken pieces to the soup mixture.

6. When it's almost time to serve the soup, stir in the double cream and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes or until piping hot, but not quite boiling. 

7. Serve hot in warmed bowls and sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg (optional).

Cook's Notes:
* Blend the broth at super high speeds in a powerful blender for an even thicker, frothier soup.

* If you're making this for someone who requires a gluten-free diet, be sure that all ingredients are suitable for those avoiding glutens, particularly the chicken stock or stock cubes you use.

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