I am one of those mothers who thinks that chicken soup can cure almost anything. And with both boys sick, lots of soup has been made at our house lately. In my mind, the curative power comes from a really good stock. I like to make my stock by putting whatever is leftover from Friday’s roasted whole chicken, onions, garlic, any wilted or less than desirable veggies from the crisper, celery and carrots. Add a splash of vinegar, fill the stock pot with water and let it simmer for several hours. Strain out the solids and freeze or refrigerate the resulting golden elixir.
We get our whole chickens from a neighbor of a neighbor. He runs a “real” farm: lots of different animals, lots of different vegetables, and two farm stores in town. His house is very similar to ours, except with more land and several outbuildings surrounding it. The first time I met him, he was sitting at his kitchen table, smoking and having a beer. After formal introductions were made, my eyes were drawn to the massive piece of white enamel behind him. I asked in slight disbelief, “Is that a wood cookstove?” “Yes, m’am.” “Do you cook on it?” “Yes, m’am. Everyday.” “Can I look inside?” “Yes, m’am.”
When I recounted this story to my husband later that night, he was slightly outraged. “Normal people do not ask to look in other people’s ovens within the first minute of meeting them!” I asked him (the paragon of propriety) what Emily Post would deem the proper length of time before asking to see inside someone else’s oven. He thought for a moment and said, “Here is the rule: you don’t ask to look in anyone’s oven unless you are planning on buying the whole damn house.” Since I don’t plan on moving, I am choosing to ignore this advice. And although I have never done this before or since, consider yourself forewarned if you ever invite me over.
But back to the soup. I make chicken soup a hundred different ways, but here is the recipe we are currently using. It’s simple, and as we all are starting to feel better, I am adding diced chicken and cooked pasta. But really, the broth and veggies are enough. Hope you’re not feeling bad at your house, but if you are, this is a good one.
Feel Better Chicken Soup
2 quarts chicken stock
1 quart water
4 ribs celery
1 large onion
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme (or 3 T fresh if you have it)
1 tablespoon dried oregano (or 3 T fresh if you have it)
Dice veggies. Cut garlic into slivers. Add all ingredients to liquids and simmer for about an hour. This soup gets better the next day.