Chicken soup for the mind, body and spirit
|November 5, 2009||Posted by ameliaps under broth, chicken, chicken soup, healing, soups, stock, winter|
“And Tom brought him chicken soup until he wanted to kill him. The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.” ~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden
You’ve heard it before… chicken soup is THE remedy for any sort of malaise…physical, yes, but also of the soul. Any time you feel down, with the flu or other, or with the spleen, just take a cup of chicken liquid gold and you are sure to feel better almost instantly, especially if someone that loves you has prepared it for you, slowly adding ingredients and cooking on low.
So this week, as we all came down with the flu, I made a BIG pot of chicken soup for my kids, remembering how, as a child, I felt better as soon a my mother would bring me a bowl of hers directly in bed.
My mom always made “pastina” (small tiny pasta, mostly star-shaped) for the “brodo” (broth) and added some grated Parmesan cheese on top. It was like a warm hug with a pinch of TLC and we immediately felt better! For the holidays, it’s my dad that makes the soup and he likes to clarify it by filtering with a cheese cloth and beaten egg whites so it’s extra clear. He also adds an onion brulee (he cuts the onion in half and “burns” it on live fire)…a real consommé with an amber color. He then adds tortellini (meat filled pasta) or tiny spinach fried balls (my favorite).
For my spice-loving husband I made an Asian version, spiked with a few drops of soy sauce, some chili paste, grated ginger and chopped green onions. I loved that version too and had it for my second cup.
Around the world, every country has their own version of this soup. The French use thyme and bay leaves as their main herb flavor and may add white wine. The Germans add a kind of noodles called Spätzle. You may have heard about the Greek version, Avgolemono, with egg and lemon. In Eastern European countries they might add lemon juice or vinegar (Bulgaria), chicken liver and heart, celeriac, mushrooms, cauliflower, kohlrabi or small dumplings (Hungary), or even ground almonds (Poland). In Asia they add ginger, spring onions, star anise, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil (China) or glutinous rice (Korea) or wolfberries, dried jujube fruits, ginseng and even tea (Taiwan). In South America typical additions are sweetcorn, plantain, yukka, potatoes, sour cream (Columbia) or avocado, white cheese and chipotle chile (Mexico) or rice (Brazil). In Israel they often accompany chicken soup with matzah balls, flat egg noodles or dumplings and in the past they used unlaid chicken eggs, which were taken from a hen and boiled in the soup.
Chicken soup for the mind, body and spirit
This is an adapted version of my mother’s soup. Over the years I have added my own touches, like cinnamon and parsnips, which bring extra sweetness.
1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken (use wings, necks and feet if you can), quartered (do not use frozen)
About 2-3 quarts COLD water (enough to cover the chicken)
2 parsnips, peeled, sliced
6 carrots, peeled, ends trimmed
4 celery stalks, washed, ends trimmed
2 large yellow onions
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of parsley (reserve a little bit to add at the end to the bowls)
1/4 cinnmon stick (optional: this i my secret to make it sweeter)
Place the chicken in a large pot (use a tall, non-reactive stockpot). Add enough cold water to cover (using cold water is key). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top.
Cut both parnips, half of the carrots and half the celery stalks into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Quarter one of the onions and stud the other one with cloves. Add the cut vegetables to the pot. In a tea strainer add the salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley , and cinnamon tick (to make a bouquet garni that is easier to remove later) and simmer the soup until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour, or more for extra flavor.
Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let cool. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables. Return the broth to the pot. Thinly slice the remaining carrots and celery. Add them to the broth and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and add it to the soup. Taste again and season if needed. Ladle into individual bowls, adding some fresh parsley.
If you wish you can add some cooked pasta noodles or rice (boiled in a separate large pot of salted water)…jut don’t over-cook them, since they will keep cooking in the hot soup!