The Learn To Cook series encourages home cooks to learn the techniques needed for guaranteed success in the kitchen, sponsored by the America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School. Start a free trial membership today. Five lucky bloggers have won a 1-year scholarship to the America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School, and over the next few months, will be giving you an inside look at the school. Meet the winning bloggers here.
Ever heard the quote, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco?” Well, Mark Twain wasn’t joking. While the rest of the country may be enjoying sunny skies and warm weather, you’ll probably find your Bay Area friends bundled up in scarves and overcoats. It’s just one of the many quirks you have to get used to when you live in the best place on earth. So when the fog starts to blanket the Richmond District I instantly reach for something warm and comforting. There’s nothing better than chicken soup.
You won’t be disappointed with the Best Chicken Soups course from America’s Test Kitchen’s online Cooking School. When I was lucky enough to win a blogger scholarship to the cooking school I specifically chose this lesson to post about. Why? Because knowing how to make homemade chicken stock, and a good one at that, is a fundamental skill that will undoubtedly elevate your cooking to the next level.
Up until this point I’ve only ever used chicken stock from a can so you can understand my trepidation at the daunting task of making it from scratch. I should have known that with America’s Test Kitchen there was absolutely nothing to fear. They are renowned for their thoroughly researched and tested recipes and the online school is a natural extension of that M.O. The curriculum in each lesson covers things like an introduction, explanation of how things work and even a test of your cooking I.Q. But here’s what I think is the best part: I could follow the simple step-by-step instructions at my own pace. With my iPad as a trusty counter companion I was able to pause, rewind, and fast-forward to my heart’s content.
Now I must admit I did have some doubts about a stock where the only ingredients were a chicken, two quarts of water, an onion, a few bay leaves, and salt. Is it possible to get so much chicken flavor from so few ingredients? Yes it is! The Test Kitchen’s genius technique of hacking bone-in, skin-on dark meat chicken in to small pieces, then sautéing, sweating, and simmering allowed the chicken’s juices to infuse and extract the maximum amount of flavor possible in to the stock. In less than one hour I had two quarts of liquid gold. You’d never find this much flavor in a can! With delicious homemade stock as a foundation, tackling the three soup recipes included in the lesson was an absolute breeze.
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
Looking for the quintessential chicken soup? You know, the one chock full of carrots, celery, and egg noodles like Mom would make when you were feeling under the weather? Look no further than the Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup lesson. Chicken soup for the soul, indeed!
Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Want something a bit heartier with potatoes and smoky bacon undertones? Try the Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup. You might think that the inclusion of cream would lend itself to a heavy soup but this version is far from it.
Streamlined Mexican Tortilla Soup
In search of something spicy yet cool, crunchy yet creamy, with a Mexican tang? How about the perfect accompaniment at your next Taco Tuesday? Streamlined Mexican Tortilla Soup may just be calling your name with its tomato-infused broth topped with baked corn tortilla strips, Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, and a dollop of sour cream.
Whichever version may suit your fancy, I hope you’ll agree with me that regardless of what the calendar may say chicken soup is perfect ANY time of year.
After completing the cooking lesson do I feel like I’m on my way to becoming the next Michelin-starred enfant terrible. Let’s just say it’s highly unlikely you’ll see me competing on Iron Chef anytime soon, but I’m definitely armed with more culinary techniques and knowledge than what I started with. I’ve also added an amazing chicken stock to my arsenal, along with three scrumptious soups, that will no doubt guarantee endless amounts of deliciousness to come. What’s next? Hmmmm…so many great lessons to choose from but I have to say the Risotto, Polenta and Italian Beans course is sounding pretty good right about now.