Yes, it is winter. And it is time to find some hearty soups. So, anyone who has been to the Olive Garden recently should know about this soup. I must confess. I think mine is a tad better. heartier. bigger. fuller. double-chin bigger. yeah.
So, if you just want the facts, scroll down to the bottom for the recipe. But if you like all of the drama in which I normally do these things, hang with me.
O.K. Start with a stick of butter.
Seriously, do all of my recipes start with a stick of butter?
No, they do not.
Some start with two sticks of butter. See?
So, put this one stick of butter in a stockpot. Start melting it on high heat. (because I do everything on high, OK?) If you want, you can put it on medium or medium-high. whatever.
Now crush 3 or 4 cloves of garlic into the butter. Yes, you need to use fresh. Don't be a weeny. Get some fresh garlic already.
Now simmer this for a while--preferably to the cooked garlic stage, whatever that is.
Now you are going to make a roux. Yes, everything I cook involves some sort of roux-"ing". sounds like "doing" a made-up word called "rouxing".
So, you measure 1/2 cup of white flour and stir it into the butter-garlic mixture. It should look like a thick paste. If it doesn't look thick enough, add a little more flour. It may be advantageous at this juncture to turn down the heat, especially if you are slow at this process.
I tend to leave the burner on high and just move quickly. I have heard from various sources that most people move slower than I do in the kitchen. Then again, they don't quite make the mess that I do.
So, let's review. So far, we have 1 stick of butter and 4 cloves of minced garlic in a pan. They are cooked and we have just added 1/2 cup of flour.
Now, in a separate pot, you want to boil some water to cook the gnocci in. (Technically, you should have started this when you started the whole melting of the butter step) So, like, what is gnocci (NO-Key) ?? It's a potato-based pasta. It has a unique flavor because of the nutmeg and the potatoes. I am just going to suggest that you buy pre-made gnocci from the freezer section of the grocery store. You can make homemade gnocci, but that is a different animal. So, cook 3 small bags of gnocci according to the directions on the package.
Have you ever noticed that gnocci packages often say "potato gnocci"? Isn't that an oxymoron? Of course, there is "pizza pie" or "panera bread" and I could go on and on about food oxymorons. But is there going to be some other type of gnocci other than potato gnocci? Of course, they could take the gnocci dough and shape it differently and fill it with ricotta cheese and spinach and make it look like a ravioli. But then, they might call it ravioli, except it is make with this potato-based dough, and then we need to indicate that it is a "gnocci".. see?
I almost forgot about the roux. Getting back to our roux, we probably should go ahead and (not let it burn) and add the 4 cups of milk, 1 T. of chicken base, and 2 t. salt and stir it on medium heat until you have a thick sauce. You may want to add 3 cups of water to this also, since you are going to be adding a ton of other stuff in here really soon.
Add 6 cups of cooked chicken, cut up into chunks, and an entire pound of fresh baby spinach, and all of the cooked pasta . Cook until heated through. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Recipe without the drama:
Prepare this first:
6 cups cooked chicken, in medium chunks (light or dark is fine)
1 pounds of fresh baby spinach (coarsely chopped if not baby spinach)
3 small packages of gnocci or gnocci-inspired pasta (about 6 cups cooked) cooked, drained, set aside
Make a sauce with these ingredients:
1 stick of butter
4 cloves of garlic
chicken base (Better than Bouillion )
salt/ pepper to taste
4 cups of milk (whole, organic, my preference)
3-4 cups of water, depending how thick you want the broth
1/2 cup of white flour.
Making the sauce instructions:
Place one stick of butter, 4 minced gloves of garlic in large stockpot and saute' them until all the butter is melted and garlic is sizzling but not brown (3-4 minutes)
Add 1/2 cup of flour and keep stirring until a paste forms.
Add: 2 t. salt, 1 T. chicken base, and 4 cups of milk to form a thick sauce.
Add 3 or more cups of water (or other liquid such as chicken broth) Stir until it becomes a medium-thick sauce/ broth. The broth should not be "thin", but it shouldn't be "heavy like a cheese sauce". It will thicken up when you add the cooked pasta, etc.
Taste it. Season accordingly.
Add the cooked pasta, cooked chicken and raw spinach. Heat throughly. Serve with grated fresh parmesan.
Enjoy your double chin.
I know I am.