I'm not much of a recipe writer. It's a pinch of this or a shake of that. Here's my secret tips that make my soup so fucking awesome.
- Ginger - it has all kinds of health benefits. Not ground, powdered ginger; fresh ginger.Use your microplane or a grater to mince it fine.
- Peppers - I've tried to use cayenne or chilli in place of fresh peppers but nothing beats the real, fresh thing. I like to use a combo of jalapenos, serrano, and those long green Italian peppers.
- Chicken STOCK - not broth or soup. Buy a good quality, low sodium STOCK. Stock is rich and dark and flavorful. Broth is nothing more than flavored water. The stock is where it's at. Don't skimp on this
- Fresh lemon - Nothing enhances the flavor of chicken quite like a squeeze of lemon and maybe some of the zest. Use your microplane for the zest and your reamer to get all the juice out of the lemon. It also does wonders for a cold.
So, get out your favorite chicken soup recipe, and tweak it with my tips.
You need chicken with bones to make soup. No one makes soup with boneless breast meat. I personally like breast meat to eat, but the flavor is in the bones and the dark meat. For my soup, I bought a split chicken breast, bone in. With a pat of butter and some oil, I sauteed that chicken, breast side down in my soup pot until the outside was seal and the skin was crispy. Remove the chicken and set aside. If you have too much oil, drain off a little but leave enough to saute your mirepoix. You're making soup, so you ARE using mirepoix, rirght? (Onions, carrots, celery) small dice is fine. While sauteing your mirepoix, throw in your herbs and spices. I like thyme, parsley, tarragon, and some bay leaves. Use what you want. When it's all cooked and translucent (that means you can see through it), toss in a little minced garlic, lots of minced ginger, and your diced hot peppers. Cook until it's smelling good and cook everything down until it starts to caramelize in the pot. That means the water is cooking off from the veggies and the heat and natural sugars in the mixture is starting to brown slightly. Remove the chicken skin from the split breasts. Nothing is more gross than boiled chicken skin. Throw the whole breast back in there, bone and all. Cover everything in chicken stock. Rub all the fond (the brown caramelized bits) off the bottom of the pan. Toss in some bite sized carrots and boil until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken, shred the meat and return that shredded meat to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning. I personally like a little starch in my soup so I always put in some mini pasta like orzo or stars or mini bow ties, like I just found this past weekend. Add a little more water if necessary and book down until the pasta is cooked through. Toss in the grated lemon zest and squeeze that lemon juice in there as though your life depended on it! All the caramelized veggies and fond should result in a rich, dark soup. Better than any yellow, canned coagulated mess any day.
Here's why my soup is awesome. The ginger is a natural immunity booster. The hot peppers helps the body sweat. Why do you need to sweat? Because all the bacteria and mucus and crap in your body making you sick needs to be forced out. The hot peppers help do that. Chicken soup, for some reason, is generally known to have some sort of healing powers. I don't know if that's scientific or mental, but there you have it.
I'm still ill, but much better than I have been the last couple of weeks. Try it. See if it does wonders for you.