Thursday, February 10, 2011

You Still Have To Eat

Winter with a kid can be tough. Before my adorable son joined us, I could sail through the winter months germ and illness free, but alas, no more. However, even when you catch a cold or a stomach bug, you have to eat. My winter motto is "feed a cold – feed a fever.” And coming from a long line of chicken soup-eating European peasants, the key weapon in my medicine cabinet is real, honest chicken soup. Not for the soul, but for your health and recuperation. Not from a car, box or LORD FORBID a cube.

I am constantly amazed at how few people make their own chicken soup/stock. It is easier to make than eggs, although it does take a bit longer to make – but not that much longer. I can go from nothing to a good bowl of soup in less than 2 hours, with about 15 minutes of actual working time. of course, when you are not sick or when you want to get fancy there are all sorts of ways to dress it up – dumplings are always nice, noodles make a terrific filler, etc but with a good soup and a few veggies, you can be on the mend ASAP.

In the end, this is a must have in your arsenal and, of course, this is a recipe where the quality of your ingredients show off because you use so few and use them in their purest form. When I am really going for a big batch, I will use 4-5 chicken backs, or the collected carcasses and pieces from other chicken dishes than no one should ever throw away, but in the end, a 10 minutes stop at the store can provide you everything you need for a honestly good meal. Oh, and it will make you feel better fast.

Basic Chicken Soup
2 chicken legs, washed
1 2”long thumb of ginger, sliced into coins
1 glove garlic, smashed
1 star anise
6-8 cups of water
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, fine chop
1 piece of celery, fine chop.

• Chop the chicken legs into 2 inch pieces
• Add oil to stock pot and heat, add chicken
• Brown on both sides for 5 minutes (the longer you cook them, the darker your soup will become)
• Add in ginger, garlic, star anise, water, salt and pepper.
• Bring to a boil, then let to simmer almost completely covered for 45-90 minutes depending on how long you want to wait.
• Strain soup and pick chicken meat off bones, add back to soup.
• Bring back to a boil and add carrots and celery
• Simmer 10 minutes and serve.
• Add noodles, make dumplings, and season as you want (I prefer a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil)

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