Happy Valentine's day! Unfortunately I have to work this evening, and even though I won't be here when he gets home, I still want Doug to be greeted by something that smells wonderful when he walks through the door (not that I smell particularly wonderful)... but you know what I mean.
Recently we stopped at a local bagel shop for lunch and they had a chicken spaetzle soup on the menu. Now I LOVE spaetzle, little homemade noodles/dumplings dropped into boiling water and usually served as a side dish. Of course I had to try it. The soup at the bagel shop was disappointing, but had clear potential to be wonderful. I decided then and there I would recreate it!
As with any soup, the quality of stock you use vastly affects the final product. Luckily, I have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock just waiting to be thawed. You can do the same! Whenever you pick up a rotisserie chicken from the market, simply toss the carcass and any drippings in a large pot with some carrots, onion and celery, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for a couple hours. Then let it cool, and pack it away in your freezer for days you want to make soup! So easy, so economical and so incredibly delicious.
A word about making spaetzle. It's a messy process. A sticky dough must be forced through a colander with holes about the size of the diameter of a pencil. This must be done over a pot of hot soup so the spaetzle fall directly into the hot liquid. I find that a flexible rubber spatula is the perfect tool to push the dough through the colander. However, if you love spaetzle as much as I do then it might be worth investing in a spaetzle maker.
Spaetzle maker (click picture to buy online)
Yes I know its a uni-tasker, but this little beauty makes life so much easier. They are not terribly expensive and can just be tossed into the dishwasher for clean up.
Chicken Spaetzle Soup
4 large chicken breasts, bone in, skin on.
4 large cloves garlic
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion diced
3 stalks celery diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 cup flour
12 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place chicken breasts, skin side up in a 9x 13 baking pan. Season skin with salt and pepper. Tuck one garlic clove under each chicken breast. Bake for one hour until browned. Remove chicken from oven and cool completely. Chop cooled chicken into bite sized pieces.
In a large pot melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrot. Cook over medium high heat 10 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add sage and thyme and flour and stir to coat. Add chicken stock and stir.
Remove garlic from roasting pan, it will be very soft. Chop roasted garlic finely and add to pot with rosemary sprigs, honey salt and pepper. Bring soup just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and simmer one hour.
Meanwhile prepare spaetzle. In a large bowl combine flour, parsley and salt. In a separate bowl combine milk and eggs. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined. Return soup to a boil and place a colander with large holes (or spaetzle maker) over the pot. Press the sticky dough through the colander or spaetzle maker allowing dough to fall into boiling soup. Spaetzle are done when they float to surface. Add chicken to pot and heat for 10 minutes. Serve hot.