It’s the ultimate comfort food, and always will be (for those of us who eat meat, at least).
When I get sick, or physically run down, my thoughts turn to hot, steamy, delicious chicken soup. It becomes a clear, physical craving. And now I know there is science here, where some ingredients in the soup battle inflammation in the body when you have a cold.
Well, I had a cold and so did Dave. At a particularly inconvenient time, just before Christmas. I grabbed the leftover bones of a roast chicken we had at the weekend and put them in a pot, along with with the leftover and carefully stored juices of that roasting.
Normally if I’m making a stock from scratch, I would at this stage add carrot, celery, leek or onion, bay leaves, parsley stalks, pepper corns, maybe a bit of parmesan rind or dried mushroom (these last two add substantially to that umami flavour you want in a stock). And I would leave it for many hours cooking away gently.
But I didn’t have that kind of time or energy. And I didn’t have any put away in the freezer (I normally do a big lot of stock and freeze it in one litre yoghurt containers).
So it was just the roasted bones and skin and bits, simmered for about an hour in water to cover. Then I added in the chicken thighs (everything free-range and from as good a source as I can find) until they were cooked, and then removed the lot.
I didn’t have a lot in the fridge and wasn’t well enough to be bothered going to the shops, so I had to make do. Into the pot went diced carrots and half a salad onion chopped. I let that go until the carrots were almost cooked, then I added a couple of cups of cooked rice, then once the water was back to the boil I added about 10 snow peas cut into pieces, about 4 asparagus spears cut into pieces, three spring onions chopped, some basil. Once that was back to the boil I added the chopped chicken meat and that was all pretty much done.
The thing about adding things one at a time and bringing the soup back to the boil each time makes a difference over putting everything in at once. The flavour has more depth, more layers. I have no idea why this is, except that it does.
This could just as easily have some of those bird’s nest noodles instead of rice, but I had a craving for soupy rice. And I’ve been reading how cooking it first with some coconut oil and then chilling it for at least 12 hours changes the starches into a resistant starch, which is much better for you. The hint of coconut in the final soup was nice.
The result: I slept like a baby for about nine hours and felt a whole heap better when I woke up. Maybe it’s psychosomatic, I don’t care. It works for me.