Monday, September 20, 2010

Medicine by the Bowl!



As the colder months approach, it’s inevitable that cold and flu season is on deck waiting to rear its feverish sniffling head! While some arm themselves with medicine by the bottle, I prefer mine in a bowl. I’m talking about good old fashioned chicken soup – more important is the stock that goes into making the soup. Homemade Chicken stocks are used universally in traditional cuisines, across many cultures for its medicinal and health providing qualities. Chicken stock contains immune boosting and anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent and mitigate infectious diseases. It also contains significant amounts of minerals and collagen which helps to heal the nerves, improves digestion, reduce allergies, relax the body and fortify the ill. Providing instant relief to the congested, wheezing and feverish patient, chicken stock is unparalleled.

While the idea of making chicken stock may seem daunting, the method is quite easy and mostly unattended. I like to make mine with the carcass of an organic chicken, right after Sunday dinner. Some traditions use a whole uncooked chicken, and this works just as well. Other ingredients are food staples, and can be switched up based on what you have on hand.

Basic Stock

1 organic chicken carcass (or whole uncooked)
2 onions cut in half, skin on
2 carrots cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half
1 head garlic, cut in half
2 Tbsp vinegar (draws out minerals from the chicken into the broth)
Enough cold water to submerge the above (about 10 cups or so)

Any other vegetables or herbs you have on hand to throw in with the exception of broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage, which can make the stock bitter.

TIP: Keep a container in the freezer, fill it up with vegetable trimmings throughout the week, peels, ends and tops – you’re on your way to making stock!

Place all ingredients in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a low simmer and cook covered for 2 – 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock the richer and more flavourful it will be. Strain off the liquid and use immediately or store. It will keep for 5 days in the fridge or for 6 months in the freezer.

You can use your stock for any soup or to cook your grains in. I use mine for the ultimate Under the Weather Soup! It may be tempting to use cubes or tetra packs, and while life sometimes requires use of such convenience items, there is no substitute for the real thing. Check the ingredient listing for unwanted ingredients like excess salt, msg, hydrogenated oils and sulphates.

Under the Weather Soup
The preparation of soup has been neglected; yet nothing is as satisfying and nourishing as a bowl of homemade soup. This is the easiest soup recipe on the go; it requires no caramelizing of ingredients, straining or pureeing. Simply delicious and easy to prepare this is my go to recipe. Ingredients such as ginger, garlic and shitake mushrooms infuse the stock further with immune boosting, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that enhance circulation and promote healing.

12 cups chicken stock
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (leftovers work too)
2 carrots peeled, and cut into coins
2 celery stalks, sliced into pieces
½ red pepper, diced
8 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
8 mini potatoes, quartered
4 stalks of kale pull leafy parts off the stalk, into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece of ginger, minced
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp
2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)

Method
Place large soup pot on stove and add chicken stock, bring to a simmer.Add all other ingredients and simmer until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning.
THAT’S IT!

Making stock and soup is easier than some would have you believe. While stock makes a base for beautiful French sauces, our mothers and grandmothers have been turning it out in quantity for eons with no formal training needed. If you ask enough questions I am sure you can find a time honoured family recipe, one that can become your go to, medicine by the bowl!

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