Do it your­self food

Dem leftover bones make a great chicken soup.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Growing - KRISTINA JENSEN

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.

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