This soup is not, necessarily, “medicinal.” But I find the making and consumption of it is certainly therapeutic. There’s just something to preparing and eating slow food made from whole ingredients that soothes the soul. And if you’re taking this continued “social distancing” thing seriously, you might just still have extra time at home. If your kids are home too, make it with them…it’s fun to have them try to cut carrots with that not-as-sharp-as-you-would-use knife and watch, gleefully, as they shoot carrot coins across the kitchen.
Buy a big ass chicken (whole). Organic if you can afford it. If not, get one with no antibiotics n stuff. Also pickup a bag of organic carrots, parsnips, a large onion (yellow or white), celery, a head of garlic, and any other herbs you think sound good with chicken (I sometimes like to use rosemary, thyme or marjoram). Also pick up a bundle of organic kale and/or rice. These are optional and I’ll get to that later.
MAKING THE STOCK
Give it a little sink bath like my mama did me when I was still tiny enough to fit in the kitchen sink, then put it in a large pot with a few stalks of celery, 3 or 4 cloves of chopped garlic, and one yellow or white onion (chopped into large pieces you can leave in or take out later). Salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper). This would also be the time to add herbs if you’re gonna. Add water until bird is just covered. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow boil. Boil the shit out of it to get all that healthy goodness out. I mean until it’s practically falling apart. While it’s boiling, clean and chop the carrots and parsnips into whatever size chunks that suit you (don’t peel – keep those vitamins and nutrients on there). Also place a large colander into a large bowl.
BIRD OUT, VEGGIES IN
Once the bird is falling apart (I usually boil it for at least 2 hours…usually more), carefully (I use tongs for this) remove from the pot and deposit in the colander/bowl setup. And I mean carefully…it will come apart as you take it out so I usually try to grab the legs, then thigh/wings first and then can usually get hold of the rest. Go slow and be mindful not to let it drop into the boiling stock and scald your poor self. Set the bird aside to cool so you can pick the meat off later. Put the carrots & parsnips (& sweet potato if you wanna) into the stock-in-progress and let it continue the low boil. At this point, you might also use forks or your tongs to pull the meat in the colander a bit (especially the breast meat) to help it cool a little faster. This is also a good time to check the stock for salt. I’m guessing you’ll need a little more at this point. Sometimes I add it, and sometimes, I leave it and let folks salt their own portions. The veggies will continue to add flavor too. Oh, and if you put any full sprigs of herbs in, this is a good time to pull out the “twigs.”
This is also when you might want to start your rice cooking if you’d like to have some in the soup. That’s right, I cook the rice separately. If you put it in the soup, it will be really nice the first meal you serve…any bouts of leftovers will be a bloated, porridge-ish nightmare. Oh, and go ahead and wash and tear a couple leaves of that kale you got in to pretty small pieces…but don’t add it either.
Play guitar or the turntable for 30-45 minutes while soup-in-progress simmers and meat cools. When cool enough, pull the meat off the bones and add to pot. For some of the “longer” grain breast pieces, you may want to cut across once or twice to make them a bit smaller. Alternatively, if you really did get a big ass chicken as suggested, you likely have more meat than you really need, so you may want to set aside one of the breasts or a little more for another purpose. The dark meat is more flavorful in the soup anyhow. Technically, as long as your root veggies are tender, you’re pretty much there. But even so, letting it simmer a little longer will just make it all the more flavorful.
SERVE IT UP
You can serve it up as-is, but here’s my favorite way. Place a little of that torn kale in the bottom of the bowl (and/or rice, if you please), and ladle the piping hot soup over it. The liquid will blanch the kale to just the right tenderness without over-cooking it. Yum. Bon Appetite, y’all.