Chicken Soup with Healing Herbs

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THIS is no ordinary chicken soup!  This is chicken soup to warm you, ground you, heal you and…well, let’s say.. to nourish your “chi” and increase your “stamina” (more on that a little later when you get to the little story at  the end of this post ..). Especially in the cold winter months, a chicken soup with its golden broth and root vegetables will give you the stregnth and the will to brave the elements before going out, or assist your warming up when you come in, freezing and chilled to the bone. Because of the addition of a special separately brewed (decocted) tea of three gentle but powerful herbal roots, this is a wonderful broth to nourish you or those you love after a bout of a tough cold or debilitating flu.

I make this recipe after I have made several meals from a rotisserie chicken, and don’t want ANOTHER chicken,veggies and salad dinner. Sometimes I store what is left in the original enclosed container in the freezer to use later, but usually I cook this soup up after about 3-4 days from purchase and meals.I am very selective in where I purchase my rotisserie chicken, and read the “ingredients which SHOULD read something like ” Chicken, salt and pepper,granulated garlic, herbs of Provence” or a variation. You would be surprised at the ingredients on some of the labels that include additives, or corn syrup. Stay as pure and simple as possible.    IMG_4416

Also please note that I don’t often use accurate measurements, but try to advise you about “how much” of an ingredient to use. For me it varies as I taste-test along the way. Let’s excuse that in the spirit of a Creative Exercise. Better to under-do and use a light hand as you go along and taste, taste, taste along the way adding here and there as you like it.

Ingredients:

A leftover rotisserie chicken, a medium chopped onion, 2 cloves chopped garlic,, 3-4 carrot chopped, 3-4 parsnips chopped, a chopped yellow or zucchini (optional), 1 large can of reduced-sodium  chicken broth (64 oz?) and 1 32-oz box of the same  (I use either College Inn or Swanson brand) …enough on hand to cover the chicken 3/4 of the way, dried basil and dried marjoram to taste, a squeeze of fresh lemon,  a sprinkle ofcayenne powder, brown rice, and a separate decoction of the healing roots Astragalus, Codonopsis and Siberian Ginseng (eleutherococcus)

Preparations:

***Preparing the Herbal Roots: Before or during the  first simmering of the leftover chicken prepare the Healing Roots decoction. In herbal preparations, a “tea” is made by pouring boiling water over the tender parts of the herb, whether dried or fresh and steeping, covered for 10 minutes for a social tea or overnight for a medicinal brew. We do a

astragalus, codonopsis and siberian ginseng roots
astragalus, codonopsis and siberian ginseng roots

decoction for the tough stems, twigs and roots of the plant by covering them with cold water, bringing to an almost boil, turning down the heat and then simmering for 10-30 minutes. I simmer the roots for this for about 20 minutes, adding more water or a little broth as necessary.                                                                                  

For this I use about 1/4 cup each of the dried siberian ginseng and codonopsis and 5-6 small sticks of astragalus.  Strain out  and discard herbs when done and set the liquid aside  for adding to the soup later.  

Cooking:

Cover the chicken carcass with chicken broth in a suitable deep pot. I cover it up to may 3/4 of the size of the leftover chicken. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes adding more canned broth as necessary to keep it almost covered. Strain and drain the broth into a separate cooking pot, and let the bones cool off in the strainer.

When chicken is cooler to the touch, retrieve as much meat off of the bones as possible and set aside. Be careful to ferret out  any sharp or hidden bones..they can be elusive.

In the strained broth add the chopped carrot, parsnips, chopped yellow summer squash or zuchinni and the onion and garlic (I like to saute those two lightly in a small pan first to enhanced the flavour..I’d suggest that). Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender  and then add the  strained prepared herbal roots decoction to the broth and simmer for a little while longer, adding pinches of dried basil, dried marjoram and salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon ( go easy there..just a tiny tang of flavor..not sour…)

Add the leftover cooked chicken meat.

Serve the soup over your preferred amount of previously cooked brown or white rice. Do not add the rice to the whole pot of soup, as it will soak up all the brothand swell and you will have a gloppy rice porridge.. Not at all sensuous, that. You want to see the golden broth and orane and creamy colored carrots and parsnips swimming above the little soft     grains of rice. I sprinkle (SPRINKLE!) cayenne pepper over the hot soup before eating. (And sometimes I add a little soft chopped mozzarella in to the hot soup as well.)Chicken soup

Variation..chopped spinach or escarole, or small white beans could be cooked in this soup as desired.

A special note/story/myth? in regards to this recipe:  A certain gentleman friend with a taste for fine fare and a delightful sense of humour  gave 10-stars to this soup as, shall we say, a restorer of….uhm… “Courage” when he felt low. He renamed it “Siberian Husky Soup” in honor of the power of the siberian ginseng to give him “strength.”

 (At least that’s what I was told..:-)  )

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