It’s been one of those weeks where getting out of bed was a major effort. You know the symptoms — runny nose, achy body, ear and chest congestion, blah, blah, blah.
What better way to get back on track than the old remedy so many of you already know – chicken soup. It’s such a cliche’, but it really does help. It also conjures up lovely memories of my childhood when my mother fussed over me when I was ill.
I had to content myself with canned chicken broth and pastina until I was well enough a few days later to at least put together a few ingredients for a homemade broth – so superior to anything canned! I made some last week too, from the left-over carcass I had after finishing the roast chicken I had cooked. There are many ways to make a good broth, so you can adapt it to whatever cut of meat you like. Sometimes I buy a whole chicken and sometimes I use just the thighs or just the breast and sometimes I add a piece of beef as well, making it more of a “bollito misto.” If I’m just using a small piece of meat, I’ll also add a bouillon cube, to boost the flavor. I wish I could say this photo was the soup I made, but it’s not. I was not prescient enough (or well enough) to think of photography. This photo is the chicken soup we ate when we were visiting my husband’s relatives last month in Abruzzo. His cousin Giovanna adds a couple of tomatoes to her broth, which adds color and more flavor. She also adds little squares of frittata, which also boosts the yum factor as well as the protein — all things that should help you if you’re trying to cast off a nasty cold. Even if you’re well however, it’s a delicious welcome for the body and soul.
Chicken Soup with tortellini and frittate
1 chicken, 3-4 lbs.
3 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
small bunch of parsley
2 tsps. salt
I like to start out with skinless chicken, so you have less fat in the soup. If you’re just using breasts or thighs, skin them, but don’t use boneless ones, if you can help it. The bones add to the flavor.
Place the chicken in a large pot, then add water to cover by at least an inch or two. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Skim off the scum that forms on the top, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about two hours.
If you want to make it like the photo, add two whole tomatoes.
After cooking, strain the soup into a large bowl, and skim off the fat. If you put it in the refrigerator overnight, the fat will solidify and come off easily the next day. Either serve the meat on the side as a separate part of the meal, or break the chicken up into pieces and put back into the soup.
Serve with purchased tortellini (I mean who’s really got the energy to make home-made tortellini when you’re sick?) and frittate bits, if desired. (For all you non-Italians out there, frittate is just the plural of frittata.)
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 thinly sliced scallions (or 1/4 cup chives)
3 tablespoons of butter
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the other ingredients until well blended. Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet until foamy, and over low heat, add the eggs. Cook for about 10 minutes over low heat until the eggs have set but the top surface is still a bit runny. Place the skillet under the broiler until the top has set. Watch carefully, because it should take no longer than one or two minutes. Remove from the oven and loosen from the pan with a spatula onto a plate. Cut into little squares to serve over the soup.