This Calls for a Celebration


Of course it does.  How could anything called Feel-Good Chicken Soup inspire anything besides joy?  The dish featured this time has much more than a positive name to recommend it.  It tastes great, which, in turn, makes tasters happy.  Sure enough, it all adds up in the end.

Not only does the concoction produce contentment, as do most chicken soups, but it’s loaded with chilies, garlic, lemongrass and ginger.  These add a spirited boost that not only makes the soup hum with satisfaction, it sings with exuberance.

The soup has a nice title.  Its taste matches the billing.  What else?  Well, it’s healthy too.  Majorly so.  There are the immunity-boosting properties for which chicken soup already is justly renowned, and today’s submission adds heathy servings of squash and cabbage, both “superfoods” on their own.  For those lucky enough to enjoy it, this is a superfood among superfoods.

This soup works wonders, both for the taste buds and beyond.  That’s why the recipe jumped off the page when Bon Appetit described it in the January 2016 number.  It’s light and refreshing, thanks in part to the herbs that garnish it and to the lime juice diners squeeze.  Yet it’s packed with both flavors and nutrients.

When you happen across a delectable dish that’s off-the-charts healthy, the occasion is, indeed, worthy of celebration.  No wonder it makes everyone feel good.

*****

Spicy Chicken Stock

  • 1 3-pound chicken (*1)
  • 1/2 bunch celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (*2)
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, lightly smashed and coarsely chopped
  • 8 dried chilies de arbol
  • 2 dried guajillo chilies
  • 2 jalapeño chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot.  Add just enough cold water to submerge the ingredients.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet to cool, and let stock continue to simmer for another half-hour.

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, and shred the remaining meat.  This will leave the bones, which you also should discard.  All in all, you should have about 4 cups of meat, which you’ll reserve for later use, of course.

Let stock cool, then strain it through a cheesecloth, discarding the solids.

NOTES:

1 – Instead of using a whole chicken, try three pounds of bone-in drumsticks and thighs.  It’s more compact this way, it’s more flavorful, and it cools quicker.

2 – A large shallot, or two medium ones, is even better.

*****

Spicy Feel-Good Chicken Soup

  • Spicy Chicken Stock, from above
  • 1 2-pound acorn squash
  • 4 cups thin wedges of mixed cabbages, such as bok choy or napa, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, from above
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced and seeded
  • basil leaves and cilantro, for serving
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges, for serving

In a large stockpot set over medium flame, heat the chicken stock.

Meanwhile, cut the squash into four wedges and remove the seeds.  Cut each wedge into four pieces.

Add the squash to the stock and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the cabbage and the chicken and cook until warmed through, about four minutes.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with jalapeño slices and fresh leaves.  Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing.

25 thoughts on “This Calls for a Celebration

    1. Much obliged, Angela!

      That’s the thing about the cold – it exists, apparently, solely to inspire ways of negating it.

      So, Cold, you exist only to give us means of vanquishing you? Alright, fine. I see your snowflake, and I raise you one soup, one cocoa, and a warm blanket.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine too, Kally, and thanks!

      You probably don’t get cool conditions very often where you are, even after sunset in January, but chicken soup is a perfect balm for the chill.

      Still, even amidst July’s swelter, it still serves as needed. I could have broth every day for the rest of my life and it always will delight. Nice to read you share that enthusiasm!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Squash, cabbage, chicken… I’m not much for jalapenos, but this sounds pretty good. Though due to a visual misinterpretation on my part, I’m now dying to know what it would taste like if one were to swap the squash for, say, mango…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, mangoes would be pretty darn good, now that I think about it.

      Anyone who thinks fruit belongs in desserts only hasn’t tried a pork chop topped with peach sauce, or chicken simmered with apples. Try either one of those, and you’ll believe too.

      Great idea, Rachel! Your inadvertence became inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That you are, Rachel. Definitely.

        Hey, who would’ve figured sweet and salty would be a “thing?” If the bridge already has gone that far, there’s plenty of room for the only slightly-daring savory and sweet, no?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We as a species have been at this “food” thing for, like….well, forever. The basic ingredients themselves are tried and true. Often lacking fresh inspiration.

        Fortunately, while the basics are old hat, the combinations in which we place them are innovative. In fact, I’m sure we haven’t experienced, or contemplated, even, 10% of what will please our appetites. How many more “OMG, this is amazing!”s await us?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds delicious. Can’t go wrong with a nice chicken soup in the winter. My favorite these days is chicken curry soup with coconut milk. This one sounds great too. Love the ginger and lime 😋

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much appreciated, JoAnn!

      Curry with coconut milk (naturally, right?) sounds good too. Indian, perhaps, or is it your own invention?

      Good taste in the broader sense, too, in gravitating toward soup over the winter. While Florida may be subtropical, that doesn’t dissuade winter’s chill, particularly after the sun goes down. Fortunately, we have something for just such a situation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have had a bit of chill off and on the last few weeks. I try not too complain as it really is a welcome change from the heat. Pretty refreshing actually.

        Oh certainly not my own invention! Indian people have been adding coconut milk to their curries for eons of time. So glad that I can benefit from that stroke of ingenuity.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The great thing about coconut milk is its versatility. Those of us in North America are most familiar with its outstanding role in desserts, but kitchens in south and southeast Asia have found countless savory applications for millennia now. Curries, soups and the like. As you may have gathered, I have an affinity for Thai cuisine, and most of what I prepare calls for coconut milk. Outstanding!

        Obviously, if cooks live somewhere where coconuts are common, they’ll incorporate them into the menus. Why not take full advantage of one the most worthy ingredients available?

        Of course, I suspect you’ll disagree strongly, right JoAnn?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah, but don’t I deserve the lances, JoAnn?

        I still like the snow, after all (just keep it off the frikkin’ roads, okay?), and Dante surely must’ve reserved one of his Circles for people like me.

        Nothing doing? Still calm?

        Okay, I didn’t want to use the nuclear option, but I have no choice.

        Fine, I, um….I just love Hallmark movies. Yes, except, add an exclamation point this time!

        In fact, as I type, I have eight televisions arrayed on the wall behind the monitor, each tuned to a different Movie of the Week. By the time you read these words, I will have installed a ninth.

        Feeling rancor now, JoAnn?

        Liked by 1 person

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