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Friday, 5 November 2010

Chicken Soup For the Body

There's a crisp chill in the air and 'golden grove' is 'un-leaving'. The colors at this time of year in the London suburbs are breathtaking -- golds, reds, caramels, browns, mixed in with sage, heather, and deep greens. It's also a time of year when folks start sneezing and coughing and passing it on your way, as you dash in and out of the trains,shops, and your office. So, as SOON as you feel those first wheezy, scratchy, tickly symptoms -- I GUARANTEE -- if you put together this delicious, hearty, warming, and healing stew -- you will feel much much better and probably stave off the worst.

'There's Nothing Like Home-made Chicken Soup' Chicken Soup

A small whole chicken (giblets and 'innards' removed) or cuts of chicken (with or without skin) -- can use any cuts, but preferably with white and dark meat and best to use free-range
Cabbage, any kind, whole head -- chopped into chunks
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped into large chunks
1 clove chopped garlic (optional) -- gives a subtle flavor boost, not a real garlic taste
Carrots, 2-3 cups, sliced or chopped into bite-size pieces
Celery, 4 large stalks, chopped into bite-size pieces
3 fresh pomodori tomatoes, chopped into small chunks or 1/2 can pomodori tomatoes or can use any tomatoes, fresh or canned
Chicken bouillion cubes or sachets or can of chicken broth, if extra-strong chicken-flavor desired -- shouldn't be necessary, though
Fresh parsley(curly or flat-leaf), roughly chopped
Salt, Pepper, and other herbs, as desired, to taste(like rosemary and thyme, preferably fresh and roughly chopped, but can use dried or frozen)

Place chicken in large soup pot with COLD water, just to cover. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer while skimming 'scum' until broth is relatively clear and chicken is cooked through (takes about 45 minutes). Remove chicken and place in large bowl to cool. Remove skin, unless skinless chicken used. Add all chopped vegetables to broth and bring to gentle boil. Can add any stock cubes, sachets, or cans at this point. Simmer until vegetables meld together and carrots are tender. You can actually add any vegetables to chicken soup, not just those listed above, but carrots, onions, and celery are vital for a good basic stock. Spinach, watercress, chard all work well in this soup. Add parsley, herbs, and seasonings, to taste. Can also add chopped chicken back into soup, if desired. Otherwise, use cooled chicken meat to make chicken salad.

A bowl of this soup counts as 3 vegetables. If you add chicken, must count meat exchange(s), depending on how 'meaty' you make it. You can also add boiled rice (remember BROWN, if possible, please!), pasta (orzo is great in this!), but must count bread/starch/grain exchange(s), accordingly. I often sprinkle a teaspon of fresh-grated parmesean cheese right before serving.

by Mary-Jo R. Overwater-Gervasio, MSc, MMSc, RD

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