Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dutch Oven Chicken Artichoke Soup

There are a few ingredients that you can use in a dish that will immediately class it up.  It almost doesn’t matter how you use them, just the fact that it’s in there (and in the title) will immediately make foodies like me sit up and take notice.  Without it, the dish is pleasant, but with it, the plate becomes a gourmet delight!  A well-seasoned and grilled chicken breast is nice, for example, but if you put steamed asparagus next to it on the plate, it gets an extra start in the rating, right away!

Artichoke is another one of these.

About two weeks ago, I had this germ of an idea for a dish with a chicken soup and a fresh half artichoke.  I started looking at various artichoke soups online, and most of them involved canned or bottled pickled artichoke hearts, veggies, and broth, then simmered and pureed.  So, what you got was a thicker, creamier sort of soup.

That sounds great, but it wasn’t what I was imagining.  In fact, I couldn’t find anyone who had done what I had in mind. That was encouraging, but it also made me nervous.

Dutch Oven Chicken Artichoke Soup

12” Dutch oven

20-24 coals below

1 Tbsp Oil
1 can mushrooms or 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
2 medium onions, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 sweet peppers. diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp Oil
4 tbsp flour

1 cup milk
4 cups chicken stock
Juice and zest of 2 lemons

3 artichokes

This soup is built up in steps, or layers.  First, I browned and sauteed the veggies to get the maximum amount of flavors.  I did that in the best order, so that those that cook longer start first.  Then, I made a roux to help thicken it, and created the soup.  Finally, I added the artichoke halves to cook while the soup simmered.

To get started, I put the 12” Dutch oven on some hot coals, with a little puddle of oil in the bottom.  I let that heat up for about 10-15 minutes.  While that’s happening I prepared the chicken and the veggies.

A word about the chicken.  I had some pulled chicken from when I made some stock a bit ago.  After eating a roast chicken or turkey, I boil the remainder (the bones and the rest of the meat), and the liquid becomes stock for soups (see below).  I also pull the remaining meat off the bones, and shred it for things like this, or for enchiladas, or sandwiches.  For this meal, you could also used canned chicken chunks (well drained and dried), or even cubed fresh chicken.  If you use the fresh chicken, you’ll cook it a bit longer in the first step, of course.

When the Dutch oven was hot, I tossed in the chicken and let that sear.  I added in the mushrooms, and let them cook down.  I really like the mushrooms when they’re quite browned.  Finally, I added in the other veggies.  All the while, I tossed and stirred everything frequently.

Once the veggies were getting a bit soft and the onions were translucent, I pushed everything aside and made a space in the middle of the Dutch oven.  In that, I added more oil, and the flour.  Immediately I stirred that into a roux and let it cook, stirring, until it started to smell a bit nutty. It was still quite light, a blonde roux.  I mixed everything together.

Then, I stirred in the next set of ingredients, the milk, the stock, the flavorings.  As always, you can use the flavors and amounts that you like.  I put the lid on, refreshed the coals, and brought it up to a simmer, for about 15 minutes.  I tasted and adjusted.  Artichoke has some bitter tones, so the acid in the lemon juice goes a long way toward lessening that and livening it up.  Make sure you have enough.  Vinegar could also be used.

While it was simmering, I prepared the artichokes.  I cut them in half, across the stem, so that each half was like a floral bowl.  I trimmed off a few of the lower leaves.  I got a paring knife and cut and scraped out the “choke” which is the fuzzy stuff in the heart.  I also cut out the first couple of layers of innermost leaves, just to make sure that I got everything.  Then, I put those into the soup.  I pushed them down in, and ladled some soup over them, so that the soup would get down, in between the leaves.  I set the timer for 45 minutes, and put the lid back on.  During the 45 minutes, I just adjusted the coals, and occasionally checked and stirred.

When it was finally done (a leaf of the artichoke came off freely), I brought it in to cool.  I served it up by lifting an artichoke half into a bowl, then ladling the soup around it.  I served it with some Pita wedges to dip into the soup.  We ate it by pulling off the leaves and scraping the flesh at the bottom of the leaf with our teeth, and then sipping the soup with a spoon.  It was delicious!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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