Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Food for the Journey

We are all on a journey but some periods of time stand out. In the last few weeks I have been the friend to a few people who have experienced one of the major aspects of the journey. A long time ago there was a TV hospital show, I think it was Ben Casey MD, where they started the show with someone writing on a chalk board (the precursor of white boards) the symbols for birth, death and infinity, because those are daily experiences for many in the medical profession. Some of those came into play in the last two weeks.

My friend Arcadia experienced the loss of her brother; sudden death by a heart attack. While it is very difficult to lose someone close to you, it is especially trying to be the last of your generation, and the eldest one alive in your family. All of the people who knew you as a child, in the ways that only family members know you, are gone. It is extremely upsetting for the one left behind and being their friend seems like a powerless, mostly unhelpful place to be. Fortunately Arcadia found some comfort in a painting I gave her, and in the flowers that another friend planted.

My friend Hil experienced the other end of the journey, delivering into the world a healthy and long-awaited and wanted baby. Congratulations to her and her hubby and all the blissful grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends! New life brings such hope and joy, and it spills out to cheer more people than you might imagine. One day soon I'll be bringing her some dinner so that she can rest a bit....or maybe macarons.

Another wonderful soul, Walter, is walking his own journey of healing. It is unclear where the path leads and this is a challenge for his family. I was able to help a little by making some chicken soup the other day. Medical science has even decided that chicken soup can be a restorative. Who knows? It might just help. If you are reading this far, send a good thought to Walter, OK? I happen to believe that positive thoughts and energy are even more powerful than chicken soup. By the way, this is not Natasha's Walter, but someone I met through work. Both men are wonderful, but the local Walter is most in need of your good thoughts.

In case you need or want the actual soup...it is supposed to be effective with the common cold I'm told...or just want the warmth and deliciousness of it for your own journey, the recipe that follows is what I made the other day. The amounts are approximate...you can vary it quite a lot and it still will taste wonderful.


Chicken Soup for W in 10 Steps

1 whole organic chicken, cut up (about 2-3 pounds), rinsed
1/4 cup celery leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 pound (or a little more) boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs, rinsed and cut in bit sized pieces
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or garlic olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, well rinsed, stem and any stringy ribs removed, chopped
water
salt and pepper to taste

1) Find one cutting board to use for chicken prep and one for veggie prep.
2) Fill a medium saucepan half full with water. Add the whole chicken pieces, the celery leaves and the Italian parsley. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour while you continue to prepare the veggies and the other chicken pieces.
3) Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Saute' the onion until translucent and lightly browned, but don't char any of the onions.
4) Fill a large stock pot with cold water about 2/3 of the way up. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken thigh pieces tot he pot of water and stir. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the sauteed onions, the carrots and the potatoes. Let simmer until the potatoes are tender.
5) Remove the chicken pieces from the first pot and let cool until cool enough to handle. Reserve the broth in the pot.
6) Remove the skin from the breasts, legs and thighs. Remove the cooked chicken from the bones of those pieces. Return the skin and bones and any other pieces to the pot. Place the pot over high heat and boil until the broth is reduced by half.
7) While the broth is reducing, cut the breast, leg and thigh meat into bite sized pieces and add to the large pot.
8) Once the potatoes are cooked in the big pot and the broth is reduced by half in the smaller pot, remove all the remaining chicken pieces and bones from the smaller pot and set aside. Pour the broth through a strainer held over the large pot, so that the reduced broth goes into the large pot.
9) Remove the remaining meat from the pieces you removed from the smaller pot, or discard, as desired. Discard bones, skin, and what is in the strainer.
10) Taste for seasonings in the big pot...this is your chicken soup! Stir in the chopped Swiss chard and let cook long enough to wilt, or longer if you prefer. Serve as is, being sure to scoop up some of the chicken pieces and veggies. If you prefer, you can puree a portion of the soup or all of it for a different take on chicken soup.

No photos of this soup...sorry! Forgot to bring the camera to the kitchen where I was making the soup.

1 comment :

Andreas said...

Yay for the magical powers of chicken soup and good thoughts. :)