Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Chicken soup with music

This past Saturday, for some unknown reason, I decided to make chicken soup from scratch. Never done that before now. Bought a good chicken and for once opened up "Joy of Cooking" and actually followed directions telling me how to turn a chicken into soup broth. Boiling, simmering, skimming, simmering, removing bones and carcass, straining, and putting into the refrigerator for a night of cooling. That was it, more than I wanted to do.

At six Sunday morning I began the interesting part of making the soup. No recipe, the preferred approach, just the chopping and cutting and adding the ingredients that would make or break this dish. I was alone in the kitchen and could have a soundtrack. It started with Miles Davis and "Birth of the Cool", a relaxing way to ease into the day and shake off morning agitation. It had the added benefit of no pounding rhythm section or back beat that would rouse the slumbering young adults upstairs whose bedrooms are on the kitchen side of the house.

Skim the remaining fat off of the top of the cold broth mixture and heat. "Venus De Milo" simmers, chop the onions and sauté in a skillet, wash the mushrooms, cut the celery into neat slices, chop a turnip into small bits, and add all to the bubbling pot. Sit at the table with a cup of coffee and read the sport section's final blast of pre-game hysterics, letting the base ingredients do their work. "Duplicity" is in the air. On to the Weekend section for another chance to ignore Frank Rich.

That CD done, it's time for the next step. Still early, add one dose of Bud Powell, "Strictly Confidential". More calming and complex music. Wash, peel, and cut a few red potatoes, same for several carrots. Add, and then tackle the Egypt news. "All God's Children Got Rhythm" soothes. Home prices keep going down in 24 of 25 urban areas. The potatoes need testing with a fork. They can't turn into mush. "It Could Happen To You" suggests nothing reassuring but the soup seems fine.

Time for the next step. "The Very Best of William Bell" goes on as the morning becomes more alive. Turn up the heat. Get the bubbles going. "You Don't Miss Your Water" is in tune with the activity. Add frozen edamame and frozen corn to the mix. Actively simmer for a few minutes and then down to low. "Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday" brings the soup to a climax that is ready for the final ingredient. Sit still and check out the style section to see who's getting married, the obits to see who died. Rarely know anyone but the stories can be interesting. "Gettin' What You Want, Losing What You Got" leads to the next step.

No noise in the house yet but will risk "Exile on Main Street". "Rip This Joint" elevates the mood. Round coils of hard noodles from Taiwan are ready to go into the newly bubbling pot. Drop one in, stir, another in, stir, it's working, do it again, "Sweet Virginia". The soup cooks. "I Just Want To See His Face" but the pot reveals nothing.

Turn it down. Let it sit. Relax. "Shine A Light" ON ME.

The final product was as healthy as it could be but a little on the boring side of good food. I can do wonders from time to time with beef, marrow bones, and vegetables, and of course a mean chili is always an option. I'll leave the chicken soup alone from now on, but nothing was wasted. What a nice morning.


Anonymous Jacqueline S. said...

Mine was always bland, too. Until a friend suggested adding a crushed clove of garlic and a bit of lemon. Not too much. Just squeeze a quarter of a lemon. Too, adding too many veggies you lose descrete taste and so the bordom. I use only celery, carrots, and onions + the garlic and lemon. I save using lots of veggies for my ox tail soup.
Also, I only use the wings.


10:36 AM  

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