When I'm sick, worn out, or just plain down in the dumps, I want chicken soup. I don't care if it's fancy. Heirloom turnips and herb pistous are not necessary. Just chicken soup, please -- nice and brothy with big chunks of chicken and minimal vegetables. Rice, pasta or matzo balls are all fine as long as the soup is homemade.
I've had a terrible month. The deaths of two people I love have made this autumn, with its golden leaves and dazzling sunshine, a little less bright. So it was no surprise when I came down with a cold. After being emotionally spent for a couple of weeks, and with two memorial services behind me, I think my body just decided it was time to spend a couple of days in bed.
In need of both emotional and physical comfort I turned to chicken soup. I hate to admit this as it seems the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series has turned this fundamental dish into something trite and hokey. Yet as much as I roll my eyes when I see those titles at my local book store, I have to admit the marketing department for the series publisher was on to something: there are few foods that heal and console like chicken soup.
Following is a very basic recipe that I used this week to cheer and bolster myself. You can easily find many other techniques out there that have more bling and panache, but when you're tired and sick, the essentials are the best choice to calm and reassure. Chicken. Broth. Carrots. Celery. Rice. United in a big steamy bowl, my nasal passages started to clear, and, I'm reluctant to admit, my soul was given a little boost.
Simple Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is made in two stages. First you need to make a rich stock using chicken, water and a few aromatics. This can be accomplished a day in advance. You then use the stock as the base of the soup, adding in the precooked chicken and anything else you like.