Saturday, September 29, 2012

Devil's in the Details

I’ve always made as big a fuss as possible over my girls when they’ve fallen ill. A simple common cold was cause to turn our sofa into an oasis of comfort - I’d make it up with bed linens and our softest old quilts and pile it high with pillows. A side table would get parked within easy reach so they’d have the television’s remote control nearby, a stack of “dirty magazines” (i.e., People, Us Weekly, Cosmopolitan - guilty pleasures for the otherwise academically inclined), a box of tissues and something cold to drink. Then I’d start making a pot of chicken soup if I didn’t already have cartons of it stored in the freezer. This habit has followed them into adulthood and their expectations aren’t outrageous - who wouldn’t enjoy just a wee bit of extra consideration when feeling down? Nobody wants someone hovering over them, but a few thoughtful niceties go a long way to improve an otherwise rotten few days of discomfort. You should be able to rely on your loved ones to provide a stroke or two at just the right time.

A few years back when my oldest was living in a neighboring city, she fell ill with a nasty bout of the flu while I was on a trip to California. She’d asked her boyfriend, a chef, to please make her some chicken soup if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. He brought her an offering of sorts. She called me.

Mom, you’re never in a million years going to believe what Rhyan considers a bowl of chicken soup when I’m so sick. @$%#@ Ramen Noodles!” 

“Oh, no. He didn’t. Really?” 

“He’s a @$%#@ CHEF and he brings me RAMEN NOODLES???? I felt rotten and now I feel even worse.” 

Heads up, readers - it’s a really good idea to cover the nuances of what your partner considers “comfort food” at the same time you’re discussing your financial standings, your spending habits, your religious leanings and your political persuasions. Getting it wrong can be life altering. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you have to take a stab at it - get the information up front and in clear terms. And if it’s a chicken soup recipe you’re needing, here’s a fail-proof version. It takes a while to make, so it’s better to cook a big batch and freeze it so you won’t be caught empty handed.

Did I mention that my daughter and I were both sick this week and there wasn’t a drop of soup to be found in either of our houses?

Doghouse Chicken Soup 

Any of your favorite vegetables will work in this recipe - green beans, zucchini, etc. The recipe is also easily doubled or tripled. You can make extra stock by roasting the chicken bones after deboning it after its initial cooking. 

4 quarts water 1 large chicken, cut up, or a large roaster
1 bulb garlic, roasted and removed from paper
2 yellow or white onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup chopped celery, about 2 stalks with leaves included
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup cooked lima beans
½ lb. small pasta (orzo, penne, etc)
Chopped parsley to taste
Chopped rosemary to taste
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Wash the chicken thoroughly and pat dry. Cut up into pieces and put into a large stock pot. Pour in water, add roasted garlic and bring to a boil, skimming off foam. Cook until chicken is tender and falling from the bone. Debone chicken thoroughly, saving aside the bones. Strain the stock by sending it through cheesecloth in a sieve. Discard garlic cloves. Let it cool completely. If making more stock, put reserved bones into a roaster. Roast in a 400-degree oven until charred. Put charred bones into a stock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few hours. Repeat straining process and add to original stock. Refrigerate all of the stock overnight so that fat will rise to the surface. Remove fat and return stock to the stovetop. 

Add the vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and let it simmer for roughly 2 ½ hours, adjusting the seasoning to taste. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

And lastly, remember to get your flu shots! Stay healthy and happy!

spring thaw . . .
i run
out of tissues


  1. every area of the post!

  2. thanks for your frequent visits, Angie! We appreciate the traffic. Glad to know I passed the grade!

  3. Hope you're feeling better today, Sensei Susan.

    I love the title of your recipe! Can't wait to sample this year's batch!

    1. curtis, i usually allow a few days for making the soup so it isn't hurried. the results are well worth the wait, and there's *nothing* like chicken soup when you're under the weather! if the flu visits Poet's Cottage, you just holler!

  4. Mom! SO sorry there was no soup! I didn't know you were sick until way belatedly, and then I thought the cold was gone. Either way, next time I'm catapulting soup from VA!

    1. don't you worry one minute over the lack of soup - living in another state now gives you a bye! i'm on the mend now and will make a big pot of it so we'll have plenty in the freezer for the next round of the flu. Don't forget to take some home with you! evidently we women have to take care of each other :)