It's cold outside. I'm not complaining – it's January, so we expect it, and this week the savory comfort of Cream of Chicken Soup is keeping us warm and lifting our spirits.
In our home this winter we are embracing the Norwegian concept of "køselig" in an effort to better enjoy winter rather than just survive it, and this soup fits right in with that pursuit.
Køselig is difficult to translate into English, and is often regarded as meaning "cozy." However, the loose research I've done indicates that the concept of køselig is much more than a simple word or meaning. Køselig is a feeling, one that is specifically geared toward the winter season.
We're no strangers to tough winters here, and neither are the Norwegians. But, instead of nestling in and hibernating until spring, which sounds pretty cozy to me, Norwegians welcome winter. They are intentional about how they live during the season, and take steps to incorporate feelings of coziness and warmth into their everyday lives.
In Norway, it's not unusual to find warm blankets and woolen socks on hand for guests, in private homes and businesses alike, or candles lit at the entrances to stores and restaurants. This helps to enhance the cozy side of winter, but Norwegians also make an extra effort to be among good friends, frequently, as well as the outdoors, and their daily lives are filled with warm drinks and comforting foods.
There aren't many dishes we find more comforting than soup, especially homemade Cream of Chicken Soup, which we make only in the wintertime. This soup will fill your home with its wonderful aromatics of wholesome goodness, and at times I'm tempted to keep a pot simmering on the stove just to enjoy its soothing smell.
Our recipe calls for 1 cup of cooked chicken breast, and we save a step by using the meat from a rotisserie chicken, like the kind you find in the deli section of your grocery store. We use just the breast meat, saving the rest for sandwiches, and freezing the carcass for later use to make chicken stock.
Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup has a velvety texture and lovely, gentle flavor. "Naked chicken pot pie" is how our Forum photographer Dave Wallis described it, and any canned version simply pales in comparison. We like to double the recipe to freeze some for later use in other recipes that call for Cream of Chicken Soup, and now I'll have to test Dave's theory and make a pot pie from scratch with this soup as the filling.
Diced onions and carrots bring their familiar flavors to this soup, which is further enhanced by a bit of dried thyme and dry white wine. We make a light, or blond, roux to thicken the soup, and a half-cup of heavy cream is also added for texture, thickness and flavor. For a gluten-free version, you can make a slurry with cornstarch and water instead of a roux.
There's a saying in Norway that there "is no such thing as a bad winter, only bad clothing," and we just love that idea. In our family this winter, we're keeping warm by lighting candles, playing card games, bundling up and taking walks outside even on blustery cold days, and eating lots of cream of chicken soup. Skol!
Cream of Chicken Soup
Serves: 4 to 6
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup dry white wine
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
4 tablespoons roux
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
Sauté the onions and carrots in the butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook the mixture until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.
Use a whisk to incorporate the roux, then add heavy cream and whisk again until combined. Continue cooking for 5 minutes until the soup thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Lastly, add chicken breast and green peas, cook for 1 more minute to heat, and serve
To store: Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to 2 months.
- To save time, buy a rotisserie chicken and remove the breast meat.
- Wait to add the chicken and peas until just before serving, to keep texture and color fresh.
- Double the batch and freeze some for use in other recipes that call for Cream of Chicken Soup.