Baked soup with bread, chicken and vegetables
Finally, the weather forecast for the upcoming weekend confirmed a strong dose of ‘winter’ would grace us with its presence here in the San Francisco bay area. All of us here in the Napa Valley accepted the news with a rousing cheer and a small sigh of relief that the much need rain would fall.
I awoke Saturday morning to dark grey skies; a steady drumming of rain that could be heard against the rooftop and the chill in the air brought a smile to my face. Our plan for some quality family time was falling into place and after the morning cup of coffee my list for the market would be in hand. Now the question, what is on today’s menu?
A very close friend first introduced me to Zuppa Coada more than a handful of years ago. It came about when he shared one story about his mother and his early childhood in Balestrate, Sicily. This dish is all about comfort food, it utilizes simple ingredients and its method builds layers of flavor that are life lasting.
Thanks to Mariano, now our family has a story to share as well.
STEP ONE: Chicken Stock Base
Chicken stock – 5 quarts
Organic chickens, whole – 2
Celery, large dice – 1 cup
Carrot, large dice – 1 cup
Onion, large dice – 2 cups
Garlic, rough chopped – 1 Tbsp.
Bay Leaf, fresh if possible – 2
Italian Parsley, fresh – rough chopped – ½ cup
Tarragon, fresh – rough chopped – ¼ cup
Oregano, fresh – rough chopped – ¼ cup
Whole peppercorns, black – ½ Tbsp.
Place the chicken stock in a large stockpot and place over high heat. Add the whole chickens to the stockpot and bring to a simmer then immediately reduce heat. Skim the excess fat and foam that forms on the surface and discard. (About 20 minutes)
Now add the celery, carrots, onions, garlic, all the herbs and peppercorns. Mix well to incorporate and return the stock to a simmer. Allow this to cook until the chicken is fully cooked. (About 45 minutes)
Once chicken is cooked, remove from stockpot to sheet pan and allow cooling. Once the chicken has cooled, remove the chicken meat from the bone in large chunks and reserve for final soup assembly. Discard the chicken bones and skin.
Strain the vegetables and herbs from the chicken stock and discard. Reserve the stock for final soup assembly.
STEP TWO: Bruschetta
Preheat oven to 375°F
Ciabatta, day old – 1
Extra virgin olive oil – 3 Tbsp.
Kosher salt – 1 Tbsp.
Black pepper, freshly ground – 2 tsp
Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated – fine – ½ cup
Cut the Ciabatta into 1-inch thick slices. On a baking sheet, line up the Ciabatta and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown in color, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow cooling and reserve for final soup assembly.
TOAST THE DAY YOU USE IT.
STEP THREE: Vegetables
Celery, large dice (3/4 – inch) – 3 cups
Carrot, large dice (3/4 – inch) – 3 cups
Granulated Sugar – 1 Tbsp.
Layer Cake Chardonnay – ½ cup
Onion, large dice (3/4-inch) – 3 cups
Garlic, fresh thinly sliced – 1 Tbsp.
Cavolo Nero, ¼ -inch julienne cut (leaves only) Kale is a good substitute – 6 cups
Layer Cake Primitivo – 1 cup
Extra virgin olive oil – 4 Tbsp.
Kosher salt – to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground – to taste
Chef note: Keep vegetables separate after cooking.
Place a large sauté pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot and celery, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stir occasionally while cooking. Remove from heat to sheet pan and allow cooling.
Return the sauté pan to the stove, add another tablespoon of olive to the pan and once hot add the carrots, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook for one minute then add the sugar and Chardonnay. Mix well to incorporate and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Make sure the wine has completely evaporated. Remove from heat to the sheet pan and allow cooling.
Return the sauté pan to the stove, add another tablespoon of olive to the pan and once hot add the onions and garlic, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stir occasionally while cooking. Remove from heat to sheet pan and allow cooling.
Return the sauté pan to the stove, add another tablespoon of olive to the pan and once hot add the Cavolo Nero, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cover sauté pan with lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, stir occasionally while cooking. Remove the lid, add Primitivo and continue cooking until wine has evaporated. Remove from heat to sheet pan and allow cooling.
STEP FOUR: Soup Assembly
Important – you will need a deep large ovenproof pot for the final assembly of this soup.
Preheat oven to 250°F
First and foremost after all of this hard work you most certainly need a glass or two of Layer Cake wine, so pour the first glass, take a big sip and embrace all that has been accomplished thus far. Life is good!
To help you out, here are the steps to make this happen:
1. Place the reserved stock in a pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Then turn off heat.
2. Grab your ovenproof pot and begin to layer the bottom with the toasted Ciabatta. If there is extra have a snack.
3. Next layer in the onions and garlic. Smooth to create an even layer. A gentle press helps…
4. Next is the celery. Same thing, a gentle press to make the layer even.
5. Let’s not forget the carrots, it is their turn. Throw them in the pot on top of the celery, a gentle press to make the layer even.
6. Cavolo Nero time. Same thing, you know the drill by now.
7. Now find the chicken you cooked earlier in the day, layer the pieces in the pot. A gentle press to make the layer even.
8. Now your pot should be either HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY, your choice.
9. Final step is the stock addition. Slowly pour the reserved warm stock into the pot. Leave 1-inch gap from the top.
10. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.
11. Cook for 2 ½ hours
Use a large serving spoon, reach all the way to the bottom and be sure to grab some of the Ciabatta along with all the other ingredients. Once all the solids are in the bowl, ladle a small amount of stock over top. Garnish with a high quality olive oil and fresh grate of Parmigiano-Reggiano.