Winter continues her tight grasp on us here in the foothills of the Finger Lakes with high winds, deep cold, and regular snow fall. A life spent tending horses and other farm animals is hard work on any season, more so in the deep of winter, but you solider on. We have glimpses of spring, but they are fleeting, and often a nuisance that creates a mess of flooding and mud.
The end of February is a annual period of flux for me. I’m deeply affected by the lack of light in the winter, and as the length of the daylight increases I find myself with a mental list of projects, dreams, and hopes that overwhelm and excite me, year after year. A day of sun and fifty degree temperatures can fuel a day of vast accomplishment, and the 20 degree dark cold of the next day sends me sulking to the couch. I cannot remember a time in my life when it wasn’t like this for me, and I know it is common for many of us, especially those of us who work outside.
To add insult to injury, I’ve now found myself with the Flu. A mild case, but the Flu just the same. I reached for the NyQuil, but found warm bourbon with honey, thyme and ginger is far more pleasant, and if I dare say, just as effective at providing relief. The best defense however, is fresh garlic or chicken soup.
At the first sign of an illness we tend to reach for the soothing and comforting relief we receive from homemade chicken soup, long simmered on the stove top and studded with vegetables. It might even be a can of the familiar Campbell’s. Long ago, while I was living by the Braddock Bay Refuge on Rochester’s north west shore of Lake Ontario, I found myself with a cold that chicken soup couldn’t touch. Sensing my misery, which I’m certain was as virulent as the illness, a friend brought me a lunch made with a recipe handed down from her Grandmother, Zuppa d’Aligo Fresco, Fresh Garlic Soup. Rochester is a melting pot much like the community I live in, so it felt like home right from the start. It’s largest ethnic demographic is Italian, making it a divine place for the most delicious and authentic Italian fare. The soup I enjoyed that day was humble, simple, but equally divine and I felt nourished in both body and mind from the very first spoonful.
From that day forward, Fresh Garlic Soup has become my primary recipe for nursing colds, boosting the immune system, and flavoring most anything that could benefit from its richness and complexity. With 40 cloves of garlic one might think the flavors would be overwhelming, but the cloves are smashed and slowly simmered with sweet carrots, then fortified with an egg yolk, a drizzle of sherry and spooned over crusty day old bread. There is no mistaking the garlic, but it is mellow and rich, and not at all bitter or overpowering. My version of the soup is here on the this blog, and I believe you’ll find it to be a worthy replacement for Vegetable and Meat stocks in many of your favorite recipes. When deciding between Fresh Garlic Soup and Chicken Soup yesterday, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to combine what I enjoy most about both and give it a name, Garlic Chicken Soup.
Combining the best of homemade Chicken Soup and Fresh Garlic Soup results in a rich and healing soup filled with slow simmered vegetables and a rich and creamy base. This is quintessential farm to fork meal. If you are a homesteader or farmsteader, chances are that you have grown and raised everything you need for this. It is imperative to use the cleanest, highest quality ingredients, after all…your goal is to get well, correct? It would be counterproductive to use anything else. You could also use an entire chicken and adjust the time at the simmer accordingly, however, being ill and having to cook meant taking the shortcut of chicken breasts and stock from the freezer, and I make no apologies for that! Choose your shortcuts wisely, and use them to your benefit. I also used some homemade spinach gnocchi (the recipe will shared in the future), but you can use a good homemade noodle, or add extra potatoes to make it gluten free, which I do often. To make this plant based, substitute extra potatoes and white beans for the chicken.
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 or 3 Chicken Breasts
- 4-6 Carrots, sliced
- 4 Potatoes, diced
- 4 Ribs of Celery, sliced
- 30-40 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and smashed
- 6+ Cups of Good Organic Chicken Stock or Bone Broth
- 2-3 Sprigs Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 Tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons Turmeric
- 1 Tablespoon Pepper
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- *optional but highly recommended* 1 pound spinach gnocchi
In a 6qt saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the carrots and celery. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender, do not brown. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the potatoes and stir in the turmeric.
Stir in the stock, being sure to scrape up the fond on the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken breasts, thyme and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, for 30 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf and thyme stems. Remove chicken breasts to a medium bowl and shred with a fork. After shredding, retrieve about half the vegetables from the pot and add to the bowl with the chicken. Using an immersion blender, puree the remaining soup.
Return the chicken and reserved vegetables to the pot and stir in the parsley. If using the optional gnocchi, add it to the pot now and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.
*Note* If using a food processor, puree the soup in several batches and use care when opening the blender. Add the soup to a large bowl until all the soup has been puréed. Return the pureed mixture to the saucepan; stir in the parsley and pepper and serve.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 62mg Sodium: 780mg Carbohydrates: 38g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 3g Protein: 25g