Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chicken Soup

I have been ill the past few days; let that be my latest non-blogging excuse. But as a consolation prize, I'm posting two recipes for chicken soup; one my old specialty, and one I discovered yesterday while trying to cure myself of pharyngitis. (It worked! or else the antibiotics did. I have made a speedy recovery.)

First, the discovery.

Mexican Chicken Soup, to be made while sick

Chicken on the bone
Black beans
Other Mexican spices
A slice of lime

On the way home from the pharmacy, buy a package of chicken thighs, or really any chicken so long as the bones are included. Also buy limes, if you can find them at 2 for 88 cents.

You've had beans soaking since yesterday, so put them on the simmer. Put the chicken in a big pot of water and boil it. Then you're supposed to skim it, which is hard when the boiling bubbles are all over the place and the steam is in your face. However, this is called the "steam cure" and is probably good for you. Turn down the heat and simmer the chicken for about a million years. Meanwhile the kitchen will smell really lovely, and you'll be starved. Leave it to boil while you go back to bed.

When you wake up, really only maybe four hours later, everything will be more or less ready. Scoop the chicken out of the broth, de-fat the broth (this one was very hard to do in the hungry hurry I was in. I am afraid it was not well de-fatted until I de-fatted the leftovers this morning), take the chicken off the bones, and put it back in the broth, shredded into pieces.

Scoop out about three cups of the chicken soup and put it in a small pot. Then open up the bean pot and discover that the beans are just right. Put maybe a half cup of them in the soup. Pull out some frozen corn and stick it in, maybe a quarter cup. If you have cooked brown rice, put that in too, though I am sure white would be good too. Then add some salt, some cumin (part of your bridal shower gift) and some strange Mexican seasoning you picked up about a month ago. I suspect chili powder would be a good substitution for that. Add a dash of Tabasco if you like it. If you found the cheap limes, take a slice and squeeze it into the soup, and then drop the slice into the bottom of your bowl. Pour the soup in, and garnish with sour cream. Yum! The peak of health should return after 24 hours.

Next, the classic. This has been my specialty since I was about 16 or 17, and I used to make it for my mom when she was pregnant with John Paul. It is excellent as an after-school snack, because it feels warm, cozy, and filling (which one's sandwich at school was not), but does not spoil your appetite for dinner. It also can lick the stuffing out of any cold, especially any throat or sinus cold.

Avgolemeno Soup

3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine

Heat 3 cups chicken broth. For this soup, I would usually just use boullion cubes, but "real" works too, provided it is well salted. Add 1/4 rice, or a little more. You can add cooked rice, or cook the rice in your broth (though you will have to add more broth to account for the amount the rice will absorb).

Once the broth is at the simmer, get a container you can pour out of. A pyrex measuring cup, the kind that has measurements up the side and a pouring spout, which you can use in the microwave, is ideal. Crack into the container two eggs, and add 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, white wine, or half of each. (Half of each is best, but I don't often have white wine.) Mix together with a fork until it's a uniform color. Dip a little of the chicken broth out of the pot and add to the eggs -- this warms them up a little.

Then comes the tricky part. Pour the egg mixture very slowly into the broth, stirring all the while and pausing in your pouring periodically. You want the eggs to disappear into your broth, turn it opaque, and give you little egg shreds here and there -- not a big, visible "egg flower" like you have in a hot and sour soup.

Pouring the egg in will have disrupted your simmer. That's okay, you can turn the heat down now. If you want to make sure the eggs get all the way cooked, you can leave it on for a moment longer, but I find they tend to cook sufficiently even if you turn the heat right off at this point. Now take some dill and shake it over the surface of the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls or cups. Big mugs are ideal. Serves 2 hungry people or 3 ordinary people.


paul bowman said...

Wow, sounds nice. Now to get sick!

Sheila said...

I wouldn't recommend it! It was no fun except for the soup.