In advance of the upcoming retreat, Poetry is the New Chicken Soup, I am sending everyone on my list a copy of my personal chicken soup recipe.
I’ve been making it for so long, I sometimes forget that I adapted it fromThe Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, by Mickey Trescott.
I’ve made some changes, I think for the better. I cook the chicken for double the suggested time, and like my Jewish mother and grandmother before me, I do not measure my ingredients but eyeball the way things look in my own dishes.
It’s like taking the structure of a book or an essay or a poem you like and adapting it according to your own sensibilities.
One whole, preferably organic, chicken
1 large onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
4 – 6 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
A bunch of carrots
A bunch of celery
Approximately two cups green beans
1) Place the chicken, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in a large stockpot and fill with water. The water should cover the chicken by about an inch.
2) Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then simmer. Trestor recommends you let it simmer for 1 to 2 hours. I boil it for 4, which makes for a rich, thick, healing broth.
3) Go to your favorite writing spot, preferably nearby, and let things brew. Soon your house will smell amazing. Don’t forget to check the soup occasionally to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
4) When you’re ready for a break, chop the carrots, celery, and green beans. I like to lay out three soup bowls and fill each of them to heaping. The texture, the rhythm of the chopping, the colors, are all pleasing and allow you a little aesthetic break outside language.
5) When the chicken has cooked for four hours, remove it from the broth. Put it in a bowl and let it cool in the refrigerator.
6) Pour the broth and cooked vegetables through a strainer and into a large bowl or another pot, being careful to save the broth. Compost the cooked onions and garlic and clean the scum from the inside of the pot. I use a paper towel.
7) Pour the clear broth back in the pot and go back to writing.
8) When you’re almost ready to eat, reheat the broth, bring to a boil, and salt to taste.
9) While the broth is boiling, pull the chicken out of the fridge and shred.
10) When the broth boils, add the carrots and celery and cook for 10 minutes.
11) Next add the green beans and shredded chicken. Cook for another 10 minutes and adde more salt if need.
I don’t add noodles or rice, not even a matzoh ball, unless it’s Passover. I’ll boil noodles for my husband and daughter, however, and let them add them to their individual bowls.
After a good day of writing, or reading or painting or whatever quiet contemplative day you are having, nourish your body with a good bowl of chicken soup.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, chicken soup heals the artist’s spirit.
It is also a wonderful way to get grounded as you navigate this new post-vaccination reality.
Bon appetit! Or in Hebrew, B’tay Avon!