With all the stress and the change in weather, Keith was getting a bit sniffly and had a sore throat. We loaded up on orange juice and vitamin C tabs, and yesterday I raided my in-laws' fridge and freezer for chicken soup fixings. There was a bag of slightly freezerburnt chicken - two legs and four wings - and assorted vegetables, so I did it the old-school way from scratch. It was heavenly, if I may say so!
Apparently the trick to good chicken stock is browning and sauteeing. Normally I just put the chicken, veggies, and water in there and boil it for several hours, but this one went faster and tasted better. First I browned the chicken in the stockpot in a little olive oil, then I threw in half an onion (chopped), then several cloves of garlic (halved), then half a sliced leek, then mushrooms, carrots, and celery. As that all came together I threw in some fresh herbs from their garden - which just so happened to be parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. So maybe I'll call this my Simon & Garfunkle soup stock. I also threw in a couple slices of fresh lemon, just because they were there, some salt and pepper, and a bit of rice vinegar, and then - finally - water to cover.
It only needed to simmer for about an hour and a half, which really surprised me. It was so rich and chickeny that I wound up diluting it almost 1:1 for the soup! I will definitely make this stock again.
For the soup itself, I wanted it to be one of those good immune-boosting soups, the kind that practically have medical value. So I fished out the chicken and Keith strained the stock for me, and then I started over in a new pot. Alliums are good for the immune system, so I sauteed onions, garlic, and the other half of the leek in olive oil until they were golden, then threw in tiny carrot sticks and celery. While that cooked I went out to the patio again for more rosemary, thyme, and parsley, and a fresh-picked lemon from the tree. All that went into the soup too (well, only the juice of the lemon, and a bit of pulp), along with salt and pepper, and a little dried oregano. Topped that off with the good fresh stock and let it simmer while I picked all the chicken meat off the bone and stirred that in, and just before dinner I stirred in a couple handfuls of small thick tube pasta. When the pasta was ready, so was dinner.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it wasn't. Most of the time it just sat on the stove and simmered on its own while I read a book and hung out with family. It was delicious though, and so healthy as an immune-booster, even full of vitamin C from the lemon. Keith is well again, and I feel healthier again already.