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Catastrophe Kitchen | Cold-Busting Chicken Soup

By Salongo Wendland

Inevitably, after the holiday season, it feels like we move into the cold season. This soup will get you through it! It’s like chicken noodle soup for grownups. Not just because it doesn’t have carbs (ha), but because it’s subtly spicy and gingery, aromatic and warming while still being light and friendly to sick tummies. It’s all I want when I’m not feeling well– not just because the ginger and peppers clear my congestion, but also because the warm broth really soothes me from the inside out.

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can do it in stages. When I’m sick, about all I’m good for is small bursts of productivity, followed by resting. So this is perfect for that. You do a few things, then leave it to work its magic for a bit. Then a few more things, then so on. If you’re not the sick one, this recipe is great for making while you get your other gajillionty chores done (or watch another episode. I am not here to judge you). You can also freeze it in ziplocks or quart containers for a sick day or just a soup day in your future.

 

You will need:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 bunch carrots (about 4 large or 6 medium
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1″ turmeric root or 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1-3″ ginger root (depending on taste)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 4-5 mushrooms
  • 1 C snow peas (the flat ones)
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt
  • pepper

Optional:

  • Cilantro
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Thai bird chilis or serrano chilis
  • 3-4 oz dried pasta

 

Step one is your prep step. Put your chicken in the biggest pot you own. Then trim the top and bottom ends off of your carrots and onions and throw them into the pot with the chicken. If you got carrots with leafy green tops, put those into the pot, too! Wipe your mushrooms clean and add the stems to the pot. Chop an inch of your ginger and your turmeric into thin coins and add them, as well. Smash four garlic cloves and add them (skin and all). Add in the peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves. Cover it all with water by as much as you can manage (there should be an inch or so over the chicken, at least, or an inch or so to spare at the top, at most). Crank the burner to high.

 

Once the pot starts to boil, you can turn it down to a simmer and set a timer for 40 minutes. In the meantime, you’ve gotten a huge jump on your prep work. If you’re feeling up to it, go ahead and finish it now. Cut your carrots into thin coins, thinly slice the scallions, and thinly slice the mushrooms. You can put the mushrooms, white parts of the scallions, and snow peas all together into the fridge (you add them at the same time), but you should put the carrots into a separate conatiner or baggie, since they will need to be added first.

I used this time to clean up and then take a hot shower and have some tea. Ugh, my body is SO SORE.

Once the chicken has been simmering about 40 minutes, it should be cooked through. To check it, you can put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and make sure it’s at 155F, or cut into the thickest part and make sure the juices all run clear (no pink juice). When it’s done, take the chicken out with a pair of tongs and let it cool on a plate while the broth continues to simmer. When it’s cool enough to touch, take off the skin and toss it, then remove the meat and put it in the fridge. Put the bones and carcass back in the pot and return it to a boil. Boil the pot for a good 30 minutes or so with the lid off, and up to an hour.

This downtime is a good time to take the chicken out and pull it apart. Just do it with your (clean) hands.

Strain the solids out: I did this by putting a strainer over a large bowl, then dumping the pot over it a bit at a time, tossing the solids in the trash as my strainer filled up. Once your pot is empty, give it a rinse, then put the liquid back in the pot and return it to the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add in more grated ginger and garlic if it’s not garlicky or gingery enough for you. This may depend on your level of congestion. I could barely taste anything so I added a whole bunch more.

Return the liquid to a boil. If you’re using pasta, check the cooking instructions on the pasta package. You’ll probably need to add the pasta first: the veggies need about 6 minutes to cook, so if it needs 8 minutes, for example, add it 2 minutes before you add the carrots. If you’re skipping pasta, just go ahead and add your carrots. Let them simmer for three minutes, then add your peas, mushrooms, scallions, and chicken. Let them cook for about 2-3 minutes. Adjust for salt.

The peas should still be pretty bright when you turn off the heat. Dish up a bowl, garnishing it with cracked pepper, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and thin slices of chilis, if you like that kind of stuff. I love that kind of stuff, so I added ALL of it.

May this soup speed your recovery—and remember to WASH YOUR HANDS!

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