I feel terrible!!
No I mean it! Really, really terrible! Every part of my digestive system is throwing its own private temper tantrum! It’s like being in the Sit On Santa’s Lap photo line with 20 4-year-olds, only they’re all inside you!!
I figure! If I end every sentence! With an exclamation point! I’ll convince myself I feel better! Yeah!
Well. Glad that’s over.
I know, I know. I told you guys I’d share the bad as well as the good. But you know what? The bad is no fun at all. Today was that kind of bad, the kind when it’s hard even to be funny about it. On a day like today, I’m lucky if I can even eat. If you really want to know, there were times I had to remind myself to breathe. I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to even find my appetite today, but I swore that if I did, I was going to cozy up against the November gloom and the dietary doom with a big bowl of soup.
It wouldn’t be just any soup, though. If dinner wasn’t going to be a pile of steamed vegetables or a big salad, accompanied by some steak or calamari rings, then whatever soup I had would need to be chock full of vegetables. Plus, I figured the more veggies I threw in, the less I’d miss the noodles or the rice.
That’s right. Tonight was a night for chicken soup.
The other evening I was chatting with my mama and she told me about a big pot of easy chicken soup she’d cooked up. My family has a few types of chicken soup we make, including the simplest, most satisfying soup you can have on a winter day or just after getting over a flu. That kind has rice in it though, and the kind my mom made was just veg and meat. When my appetite poked its little head out late this afternoon, I was glad I had decided to postpone all the big “if I get hungry I’m gonna make this” cooking plans I had for the evening and instead make some soup.
Well, first I ate almost an entire can of Heniz Vegetarian Baked Beans, because I was so hungry from not eating all day. I’m pretty sure that was a bad idea because a) empty stomach, b) sugar, c) NEARLY AN ENTIRE CAN OF BEANS, and so God knows what’s going to happen tonight. Just be glad you’re not here, is all I can say.
But then I made the soup. The warm steam from the chicken cooking in the broth mellowed my mood without my even realizing it. My bowl was so full of vegetables and chicken meat there was barely room for broth. And after chewing mouthfuls of tender carrots and parsnips and celery, my stomach filled up like a happy little hot water bottle, calming down everything around it.
They say chicken soup soothes the soul. Sometimes I’ll settle for just soothing my stomach.
Mama Rachel’s Easy Chicken Soup
1 3-lb. chicken, giblets removed, cut up into pieces (ask your nice butcher to do this for you if you are too squeamish or, like I was tonight, too lazy)
1 32-oz. carton plus 1 14-oz. can of chicken broth (I have always loved the flavor of Swanson’s Natural Goodness, the lower sodium one, but use whichever tastes best to you)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 celery ribs, chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/2 Tbs. dried dill (or less, to taste – I like a lot of dill in my soup)
1/8-1/4 dried parsley
1 chicken bouillon cube
Fresh pepper, to taste
1. Place the entire cut-up chicken in a large pot. (If the butcher includes the neck, you can cook that too, but you will discard it.) Pour the chicken broth over the chicken, making sure the chicken is covered by broth. Add one chopped yellow onion. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook uncovered until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
2. Remove the cooked chicken from the broth and set aside on a plate. Add the carrots, second onion, and dill. Cook 5-10 minutes, or until tender.
3. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and discard. Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
4. When the carrots are almost tender, add the parsnips, celery, parsley, and pepper.
5. When the vegetables are almost cooked, about 5-10 minutes more, taste the broth and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Add the chicken cook an additional 3-5 minutes, until chicken is hot.