Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Hangover Food: (Virtually Dairy-Free) Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Once upon a time, I could easily march through a day and night of drinking, dousing my body in alcohol and questionable decisions and wake up the next morning, feeling ready for round two. I rallied like a God damned champion.

Unfortunately, right around the time I began to realize that my boobs wouldn't always be perky, I started suffering from hangovers that lasted an entire day - sometimes two.

In my younger years, I would tumble into bed, head-first with a face full of makeup on and my clothes still smelling like cheap beer, cigarette smoke, and a bar floor.

Now when I get home, I eat something resembling food (*cough*pizza rolls*cough*), chug a glass of water, pound some Advil, wash off the smell of barley and hops, scrub my eyeliner off, and then crawl into bed.

And even though I'm marginally more responsible post-drinking, I still manage to get an even worse hangover.

Aging is a bitch.  But fortunately, with age comes wisdom.

So in my arsenal besides water, Advil and a shower, I've got food.

Sometimes when you're hungover, you want carbs and grease.  And other times, you want to apologize to your body for punishing it and feed it something nourishing, a little healthy, and hearty enough to make you praise Jesus for a stove.

And since I'm on a soup kick, that's what I pulled out of my bag of tricks.  More specifically, creamy chicken noodle soup.

It's pretty much the ultimate soup. It's thick with a ton of celery, carrots and onion, has delicious chunks of tender chicken, and since it is a creamy soup,  it has a rich, decadent taste.  Bonus?  It's not too unhealthy for you that you feel like your body is purging all of your bad decisions from the past 48-hours.  How you ask?  It has limited dairy and the "cream" from the soup is actually almond milk and a blonde roux.

Even better for soup - it's easy to make, simple to modify to fit your tastes, and you might even have all of the ingredients on hand anyway.

And honestly? After this weekend's tequila-fest, I needed something more than a Big Mac and a gallon of soda.

Super side note? Even if you're not hungover, this is amazing.  And since it's virtually dairy-free (the only dairy is in the butter to make the roux), it's a healthier take on a creamy soup.   You can have a giant bowl of this and not feel super guilty.  Win win!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 1/2 - 2 pounds chicken (I used chicken thighs because they were on sale - feel free to use whatever poultry you have on hand or if you're not a meat eater a meat-substitute that you like)
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
3 medium carrots, sliced
3-4 ribs celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz. chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
2 3/4 c. almond milk (or use 2 cups regular milk + 1/2 c. heavy cream)
3 c. egg noodles (gluten-free or whole wheat is a great substitute, too!)

1. If you're using bone-in, skin-on chicken (or raw chicken), remove the skin and season all sides with salt and pepper.    Heat a large pot over medium-high and add the olive oil.  Heat until smoking and add the chicken.   Allow to brown, about 3-5 minutes each side.  Once browned, remove from the heat and set aside on a plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion.  Using tongs, scrape the onions along the bottom of the pot, releasing any browned bits left over from the chicken. Allow to cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add carrots, celery and garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes until vegetables are softened.

4. Place the chicken back in the pot and add chicken stock and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

5. While the soup is simmering, make your roux.   A roux is essentially equal parts fat and flour and is used to thicken a sauce - or in this case - your soup.   Melt your butter over medium heat in a sauce or saute pan.  Slowly whisk in the flour, allowing each bit you add to become fully incorporated before whisking in more.  Once all of the flour has been worked into the butter, allow to cook for a few minutes until all of the flour has been cooked out.  Allow roux to cool on the stove.
Does this design in the roux look like a cat to anyone else? 

6.  Once the soup has finished simmering and the chicken is cooked, remove from the pot and set aside to cool slightly.  Once cool, shred chicken from the bone or chop into small pieces. If you're using pre-cooked chicken, or chicken already in small pieces, feel free to skip this step.

7. Add almond milk (or milk and heavy cream) to soup, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk in your roux.  Once fully incorporated, add noodles and chicken back into the pot, stirring occasionally.   The soup will be finished when the noodles are fully cooked.  Reference package directions on the noodles for approximately cooking time.

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