Jewish Penicillin by a Sicilian-Portuguese Girl
I needed comfort.
The desire to ease my physical discomfort which recently occurred was as strong as my New Orleans accent. After my trip to the E.R. on Friday, I was exhausted, and determined to start the necessary steps to heal and feel good again. Love from others will always help the process, but so will food. Food will always be a catalyst in crumbling walls of tension, and like music, it can and will set a mood. It just has to be understood.
There are a million forms of soup, with the easiest being in a can. Go to any grocery store, and you will get cross eyed at the many shelves of various canned soup: chunky, low sodium, ” healthy ” , and God knows how many other labels. They all have one thing in common- They suck. Sure, it’s convenience at it’s best and I get that it may have to do in a pinch sometimes. Just keep in mind that it’s the king of chemicals, and the healthiest of soup is always made by a person with the intention of love, healing and kindness.
After a couple of days of bed rest, I needed to go somewhere. The grocery seemed like the most practical place and besides, I love to go to the grocery. Imagine that.
I was enjoying just slowly wandering through the aisles and noticing things on the shelves and also in other people’s baskets. For some reason, I was craving celery so when I went to the produce section, carrots were staring at me, and so it began.
I gathered all that I needed for a good, old fashioned pot of chicken soup. This time with extra veggies and a a pretty chicken who I knew was enough to feed me numerous times, while giving some to my 2 daughters- Yin and Yang. They LOVE chicken soup.
Of course, there are many variations of chicken soup, and you can add things like, parsnips, radishes, fresh ginger ( which boots the anti inflammatory process ), zucchini, etc. It just depends on your particular mood and goal for the soup. Growing up Sicilian, my instincts would have been to maybe throw in a couple of diced tomatoes, some elbow macaroni, and definitely some shaved romano on top of the soup, before devouring it. There are 2 reasons I didn’t make matzoh balls for the soup- I didn’t have the energy to put forth the extra effort. The other reason is- I fail miserably at making matzoh meal puff to airy and large balls. It’s depressing, but I get by with a little help from my Jewish friends.
When you make this soup, pay attention to the smells, the color change of the veggies, the chicken, and how the broth ( stock ) transforms into a rich, golden brown sea of affection.
Old Fashioned Chicken Soup
Yields- About 1 gallon
1.5 bunches of celery
1.5 baby carrots
2 large yellow onions
1 bunch flat leaf or curly parsley
1-5-6 lb. chicken ( junk removed from the cavity )
Rough chop the celery and the onions. If you like smaller pieces in your soup, use a food processor, or build your forearms by hand chopping. Chop the parsley to fine, but not too fine.
Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your pot. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sweat them until they are translucent. You can go one more step and ” brown ” ( caramelize ) them, but remember, it will change the flavor. It’s up to your personal taste. Add the celery, and mix it with the onions. do the same with the carrots. I left the carrots whole b/c I was too lazy to cut them in half. You can do what you like.
Let these things saute a bit, and add the bird. Add enough water to cover the bird by about 2-3 fingers. You will probably have to add water a few times, as the stock gets richer and richer ( yes grasshopper, you are making chicken stock ).
Some people believe in bringing the water/soup to a boil, then turning the heat down, so the soup will simmer. I personally don’t want to boil the soup at any point b/c for me, it’s the act of slowly bringing together flavors and healing properties. Boiling just seems radical to me when making chicken soup.
Season with salt and black pepper. You can add some parsley if you want, but it will break down a lot by the time the soup is finished. Your call.
Let it cook and bask in the way your house will smell, check it periodically to see if it needs more water. After about 40 minutes, taste it and adjust seasonings.
When the chicken broth is a rich and golden brown, add the remaining parsley and turn off the fire. This is when you can throw in some uncooked rice or pasta if you’re in the mood.
Remove the whole chicken ( be careful because it may fall apart ). Let the chicken cool and remove the meat. Put back into the soup broth with the veggies. Eat some of the skin, because you know you want to.
Taste it again and when you close your eyes and smile, it’s complete. Start calling people you love, so you can share. That is one of the best parts of making chicken soup.
More very soon.