Do it yourself food
Dem leftover bones make a great chicken soup.
Leftover chicken soup for the soul
You may have come across a series of books marketed
as Chicken Soup For The
Soul. This title always tickles something inside me, probably because I love chicken soup. I will go to great lengths to make sure that the bones of any chicken hapless enough to be cooked in my presence make their way into a pot to be boiled for two or three hours to make chicken stock, just so that I can make chicken soup.
There is another reason, besides me loving chicken soup, for including this recipe at this time of the year. It’s still cold. The sniffles are upon many of us, and chicken soup is the perfect remedy as far as I am concerned. You can pop pills, smear strong-smelling salves on your chest, rub chilies on your feet, or sweat in a sauna, but chicken soup is the balm for my soul. If I get really crook, I treat myself (yes, I actually get into being sick, treating it as my body’s way of having a big clean out) to a dose or six of Mum’s fabulous onion-honey elixir.
Just so you know the extent of my affection for chicken soup, I will tell you a story of how one pot came about. I recently prescribed myself a going-solo writing retreat. It had been an idea in the pipeline for seven years, but I somehow managed to put it off and put it off until I realised that it wasn’t going to happen unless I actually made it happen.
I write poetry, and while there’s not much money to be made from such a creative undertaking, I valiantly carry on writing and submitting and reworking simply because I love it and because I have to (fellow poets will understand).
I decided to dig myself in at Golden Bay. I was there with other members of the local Rural Women's group who were attending the regional conference in Golden Bay, supposedly a must-attend event as the GB women, I was told, always put on a great function. And it was, thank you ladies, especially the to-die-for lemon slice and chocolate brownies. Then there was the incredible mountain-to-sea scenery and funky art shops which make it well worth the trip over the hill to Takaka.
We were all to bring something for a shared meal the first night and to my delight, two women brought readycooked chickens. I insisted that the bones be collected, and the resulting soup fed me during my retreat, fuelling me to compose new poems and revisit old ones with enthusiasm.
The key to good chicken soup is the stock. Chicken bones (and others), boiled to within an inch of their marrow, yield a fantastic amount of nutrients and taste, great for boosting a struggling immune system and encouraging appetite in
To my delight, two women brought ready-cooked chickens
a sniffle sufferer. I like to add other ingredients to the bones to boost their quality even more. Avid readers of this publication may recall that one of my very first articles ( July 2010) was about 'compost' soup. Come winter, I save any clean vegetable scraps in a speciallymarked container on the kitchen counter. Once or twice a week, I pop any bones I have saved (usually frozen for the purpose) into a big pot, throw in the ‘compost’, and boil it all up for 2-3 hours. This produces a rich aromatic stock that is always a surprise to taste, depending on the vegetable scraps that have gone into the container.
This has now become a culinary trademark of mine. When I serve soup up to close friends, they often ask ‘is this a compost soup brew by any chance?’ If there happen to be compost soup newbies seated at the table, their eyebrows go up and a lively discussion follows about the merits of eating vegetable scraps.
Don’t throw away your chicken bones - heaven forbid! Start collecting now for a delicious round of soul-warming soup that is guaranteed to lift your spirits and send the sniffles packing.