Little Bites: Bryan Voltaggio of Lunchbox’s Chicken and Biscuits Soup

Oftentimes chefs don’t want to cook another meal when they get home after an arduous 12-hour stretch behind the burners. But throwing together a comforting snack to help take the edge off the day is another proposition entirely. These scrumptious nibbles don’t require a degree from the Culinary Institute of America to make, but they’re worthy of winning a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge.

This week’s chef knows a thing or two about Quickfire Challenges, since he won a few of them when he competed on the reality show. But when we asked Bryan Voltaggio for a recipe for the Little Bites column, he didn’t want to share something that you could whip up in 10 minutes flat. Instead, he gave us a recipe for his Chicken and Biscuits soup, which has helped earn his canalside grab ‘n’ go Lunchbox a strong following. Even though this will take you a couple of hours to put together, this spoonable spin on the Southern favorite is more than worth it.

 Ingredients

For soup:

  • 1 large Spanish onion, small diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and small diced
  • 2 celery roots, peeled and small diced
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, picked and chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 quarts chicken stock or broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

For chicken:

  • 2  chicken thighs
  • ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 4  garlic cloves
  • 2  sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

For biscuits:

  • 12 ounces all purpose flour
  • 10 grams granulated sugar
  • 13 grams salt
  • 1/16 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 9 ounces buttermilk
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives
  • ¼ cup shredded white cheddar (optional)

Directions

For soup:

  1. In a large, heavy bottom pot add oil and place on medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic; sweat vegetables for about 2-3 minutes or until translucent being careful not to brown vegetables.
  2. Next add the parsnip and celery root and stir together well, cook vegetables for an additional 3-4 minutes or until vegetables start to sweat.
  3. Add the chicken stock and herbs and bring soup to a simmer; let soup continue to simmer for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are completely softened.
  4. Transfer soup in batches into a blender, blend on high speed until smooth consistency is reached.
  5. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieves and mix salt into soup well; reserve for use.

For chicken:

  1. Remove the bones for chicken thighs from flesh side. Be careful to cut close to the bone, so the thigh is left in its entirety.
  2. Season the chicken thighs evenly with salt and place neatly into a cryovac bag or food saver bag.
  3. Crush the garlic with the side of a knife or by hand just to break it up; place garlic, whole thyme and olive oil into the bag and seal completely.
  4. In a circulating water bath preheated to 165° Fahrenheit, place the bag and allow to cook for one hour.
  5. Once time has elapsed remove bag and place into an ice bath to cool.
  6. Once cool open the bag and remove the skin from the chicken and wipe the garlic and thyme off.  Cut or break chicken into bite-sized pieces and reserve for use.

For biscuits:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together well in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut butter into ½” cubes and allow to stand at room temperature to soften.  Once butter is soft, add to dry mixture along with buttermilk, cheddar and chives; knead mixture loosely together.  It’s okay for mixture to not be completely incorporated.
  3. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and place in refrigeration for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Once time has elapsed remove the bowl from the refrigerator and lay the dough onto a lightly floured worktop.  Lightly sprinkle top of dough with flour and using a rolling pin roll out dough to a sheet about ½” thick.
  5. Fold the sides of the dough to the center, creating three layers, then roll the dough back out to ½” thickness again, sprinkling with flour as needed.
  6. Using a 2” diameter ring mold cutter punch out biscuits and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Place biscuits into a preheated oven at 350° Fahrenheit, set a timer for 8 minutes then rotate the trays and return to the oven for an additional 8 minutes.
  8. Once golden brown remove from oven and allow to cool.

To assemble the soup:

  1. Bring soup that has been pureed to a boil in a heavy bottom pot.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the soup to allow to heat up.
  3. Serve in a bowl with desired amount and break biscuits up into crouton size pieces and sprinkle atop the soup.
  4. Serves six.