November. Why do I always get sick at the moment Christmas music oozes from the radio ridiculously early. It’s not the music, I just always get sick now. Some claim it is the change in weather and seasons. I have spent this day across the globe and I usually find myself with the same infirmary. I find it hard to believe that November first in South Africa induces the same illness as the change of season in the American south. In fact the worst bout of this annual trial was inflicted in Sonoma during a week of winery visits.
This leads me to coping. I self diagnose, self treat, and self loathe. Over the counters, horded prescriptions, and of course cures that reek of old wive’s tales are deployed to cure and comfort. I want something hot, and filling. I think we all have our favorite soup, Chinese egg drop or hot and sour, possibly a Mexican tortilla, or the stand-by sore bought can that gives us the momentary solace from infirmary. One thing I prepare in anticipation of the annual irritation is a simple stew that subdues misery.
Simple, but steps that matter. I find that is what makes a good soup or stew. Each ingredient adds its own character in the method that it is prepared. Deep rich flavors that satisfy and soothe are the keys to a good cold weather soup. Adding the chicken back to the soup at the time of serving allows it to stand on its own without having adsorbed the flavors of the other stew components. Garnished with a few fresh thinly sliced raw carrots and parsley, a hint of spring seems to come through in every few bites.
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 4 sage leaves
- 3 large white onions
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 4 celery stalks, with leaves
- 8 carrots
- Kosher Salt
- Black Peppercorns
- crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 2 cans navy beans, rinsed
- 2 cans great northern beans, rinsed
- 3 rainbow carrots
- flat leaf parsley
- Place chicken in stock pot and cover with water
- Add herbs, 1 onion quartered skins on, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, celery coarsely, chopped with leaves, 2 coarsely chopped carrots, 3 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp peppercorns, pinch of crushed red pepper and boil for 1 hour
- Remove chicken. Shred and and chop chicken without skin once cool, separating white and dark meat
- Strain broth from the remaining solids and reserve
- Dice remaining onions and put in a dutch oven with the olive oil. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of fresh ground peppercorns. Cool onions over medium heat until they begin to turn clear. Add finley diced garlic. Remove from dutch oven and set aside
- Put diced carrots in the dutch oven and cook until the outsides begin to brown and caramelize.
- Add 1 cup of reserved broth to carrots and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the dutch oven as it begins to boil
- Add cooked onions and garlic and then the beans and stir.
- Fill the dutch oven 2/3 full with remaining broth.
- Simmer of thirty minutes and adjust salt to taste.
In each bowl, ladle half full with soup from the dutch oven. Add chicken as desired, white and dark meat. Garnish with rainbow carrots and parsley and a small amount of quality olive oil.