chicken soup from scratch(ish)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In my family (during the super fun vegan years), it was not uncommon to hear things like, "Did you eat a cold?" Instead of referring to a cold as a thing you'd "catch", it was attributed to toxins in the food you ate. Nowadays it's common knowledge that your diet has a huge bearing on your health but imagine being asked that as a 13-year-old with the sniffles in the late 80s. My brothers and I would roll our eyes at each other and then secretly I'd recount my last several meals and wonder what specific morsel did me in.  

The psycho thing was that eating "vegan" in our household included things like (my hand to God) frequenting the McDonald's drive-thru as a family and ordering a Big Mac without the meat or cheese. (That was a real treat, hearing your parents order that from the back seat and dying a little bit when they had to repeat themselves to the poor pimply teenager manning the window.)

And for us kids who were squeamish about most vegetables, being vegan in our house meant consuming staggering amounts of carbs. The tator-tots, the pasta, the toast! We had one nanny early on, Dora, who made us french fries from scratch. Every. Single. Day. And we ate them with buckets of ketchup. It's a wonder we're not obese.

It's no wonder, though, that we ate ourselves some colds.

If you can eat yourself a cold, then I think you can eat yourself out of one too. I swear this is true: pre-Thanksgiving, I came down with the sneaky beginnings of a post-nasal drip, immediately ate a big bowlful of this soup, slept nine hours, and the mother-effer was kicked to the curb! [knocking serious wood]

So if you reach into your purse looking for a pen and instead pull out a dusty, stray Sour Patch Kid*, maybe eat some of this soup for good measure.

*this may or may not have happened to me.

Chicken Soup From Scratch(ish)
yields about 4 quarts

There are definitely quicker methods to making a basic chicken soup but this is the best way I've found to create awesome depth of flavor without starting from total scratch. Plus you're getting a slew of nutrients from those root vegetables.

3 quarts Doctored Broth, recipe follows (this takes about an hour but is key to this soup's success!)
1 brown onion, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 t thyme leaves
The meat from 1 cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded with fingers
1 smallish bunch kale, de-ribbed and chopped into large pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Saute onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, thyme and a good pinch of salt and pepper for about 7 minutes, til soft. Add the Doctored Broth and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked, shredded chicken and kale and simmer for 10 minutes, until the kale is cooked. Add the parsley and check for seasoning.

Doctored Broth

1 cooked rotisserie chicken (ideally salt free)
2 quarts store-bought chicken stock (ideally low sodium & organic)
1 quart water
1 onion, quartered (leave the skin on)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 stalks celery, chopped into large chunks
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 turnip, quartered
1 head garlic, cut across width-wise (leave the skin on)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf

Remove the meat from the cooked chicken, pull it apart with your fingers and set aside and refrigerate until ready to make the soup. Throw away all the creepy bits and place the bones and skin in a large stockpot. Add the chicken stock, water and all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour and then strain and discard the solids, saving the broth. At this point you can freeze it, refrigerate it up to 2 days or use immediately.

Happy Tuesday:)

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