Chicken soup for a cold

It’s Sunday and Miriam is in bed with a cold. Lucky for her, I’ve been saving chicken parts in the freezer for just such an occasion (see my previous post, Dawn of the Dead Chicken). The chicken parts will keep fine in a zippered freezer bag for a couple of months. I make a lot of soup, so the frozen parts go through a pretty continuous rotation, and I don’t worry much about freezer burn. When cooking, I generally keep the soup and the starch component separate, so the noodles or rice don’t get mushy. It is light years away from the canned variety. A couple bowls of this concoction, and she’ll be back on her feet, maintaining her perfect attendance record at school.

Necks, backs, and wing tips of four chickens
4 chicken thighs
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
1 large clove garlic, lightly smashed with the flat of a knife
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, preferably the center ones with leaves, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
2 sprigs fresh parsley, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 large bay leaf
10 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups cold water, or to cover

Put all ingredients (except the chopped parsley) into a large soup pot. Cover with the lid slightly askew. Turn the heat to high until the water comes to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Periodically skim off the scum and fat that rises to the top. Simmer, partially covered, for about two hours. Remove the chicken thighs and carrots and set aside. Strain the soup over another large pot and skim off any remaining fat. Discard the bones and vegetables. When cool enough to handle, remove the thigh meat from the bones, shred, and add to the soup. Dice or mash the carrots and add to the soup. Add 1 and 1 /2 cups frozen peas. Cook separately: egg noodles, pasta shapes (fusilli and stars are favorites), or rice. Put the rice or pasta in individual serving bowls and pour the hot soup over. Garnish with the chopped parsley.

Other additions we like: grated parmesan cheese, sriracha hot sauce, chopped scallions. You can also add two or three slices of fresh ginger root, smashed slightly, at the beinning of the cooking. This is good with rice or rice noodles, sriracha, and cilantro.


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