This tendency means recipes often fall to the wayside. And that can be a real shame – as with this soup, which is a particular favorite of Arne’s. I used to make it all the time in graduate school. It has many virtues; while it’s homey and comforting, the white wine and olives give it just a little fanciful twist. It is easy to put together and completely delicious – far more so than the sum of its parts.
When I thought of this recipe around New Year’s, I knew I had to make it again. Auld Lang Syne and all. I pulled out my stained, annotated (“Incredible. Luscious and silky,” says my note in the margin for this soup), beloved copy of Crescent Dragonwagon’s Soup and Bread and whipped up a batch – and was delighted to find it as scrumptious as I remembered. (And Arne was so thrilled to see it that I will make every effort to serve it again soon.)
Incidentally, Dragonwagon has a new cookbook coming out next week, Bean by Bean, and I’m so excited! That’s right, I’ve already pre-ordered and can’t wait for a cookbook that is nothing but bean recipes. What can I say – I’m a recipe geek.
I have made few changes to this recipe. Why mess with perfection? I leave out the celery it calls for, just because I never use it for anything else and it seems a shame to use one rib and let the rest turn to slime in the crisper. Add a sliced stalk in with the carrot if you like. It also calls for rice, which I leave out because I prefer the silkiness of the broth without that distraction. (I almost typed “destruction.” Freudian slip?) Oh, and I use less butter, and suggest a reduced-fat variation. I also changed the method around because hers used more pots and pans than necessary.
What? That’s not many changes!
The olives in this soup are the plain old olives you buy in cans and jars by the pickles in the grocery store. Save the Kalamatas for something else.
This soup is named for the city in which Crescent Dragonwagon ran a B&B – Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It sounds like a magical place. I wish I could have stayed there!
Chicken and Olive Soup Eureka
Serves: 4 Time: 50 minutes Hands-on: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken chunks, cooked or raw
1 cup half-and-half (you can use fat-free)
1/4 cup (or more as you wish) black California olives, sliced
1/4 cup (or more as you wish) pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1/2 cup frozen petite peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the carrot and cook another 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir for a minute or two. When it is well incorporated, add the wine and stir until the flour has formed a paste with the wine. Add a cup of broth and stir until incorporated, then stir in the rest of the broth.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook 20 minutes. Stir in chicken. If it’s cooked, simmer just until heated through; if raw, cook gently for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Add half-and-half, peas, and olives. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve piping hot.
Tip: To keep your soup hot while you eat it, it’s best to serve it in a heated bowl. But I usually forget to stick my bowls in the oven until it’s too late (and it feels wasteful to heat the oven for just a few bowls), so I developed this trick: Put a few tablespoons of water in each bowl and stack them together. Put in the microwave and heat on HIGH for about a minute. Carefully remove the bowls, empty out the water, and ladle in your soup. Be sure, of course, to use microwave-safe bowls!
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