Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Soup

This year, all of our family Christmas gatherings were already concluded before the 25th, leaving me and my gun-slingin' super hero, all alone with the cat and our own devices on Christmas Day.  But alas even gun-slinging super heroes can catch colds, and when mine awoke with a bad case of the sniffles, i was inspired to cook what i have named Christmas Soup.  I was so pleased with the results, that i am inspired to make my Christmas Soup an annual tradition.  After all, Christmas time may be the most wonderful time of the year, but with all the candy, cold air, and stress, it tends also to be the most sickly time of the year, and the most challenging to our immune systems.
So here's what i did.  

First, i had some homemade chicken stock from the last time we thinned out our rooster population.  I made it by simmering the bones in the crockpot for many hours, in order to suck the nutrition into my stock.  It's wonderful stuff, and very good for you.  I added about a quart of it to my empty stock pot, followed by an equal amount of water.  To that i added a pound of previously cooked and frozen (freezer cooking is such a good idea) roasted chicken pieces - boneless of course.

Then i set about crushing garlic.  An entire bulb or head of garlic.  It isn't necessary to get too detailed about mincing garlic when it's going in a soup that's going to simmer a long time.  Just make sure to get all those skins off and remove any hard root bits.  Most of my cloves, i just smashed with the side of large knife and cut in half.  The bigger ones, i cut into smaller pieces. While the pieces are physically distinguishable after the soup is finished, the expected overpowering flavor is disseminated beautifully into the soup.

As the cold began to come upon us this fall, the last of the bell peppers and hot peppers in the garden were harvested and placed in the freezer to be used for seasoning at a later date.  Now, some of you are going to squinch up your noses when i tell you this next part, but i challenge you to keep an open mind.  I took 10-15 small to medium sized bell peppers, red and green, out of the freezer, removed the tops and seeds, and diced them into about 2 cups bell pepper bits and added those to the soup to simmer.  Now, i'm not a big fan of cooked bell pepper, or i wasn't until i discovered it as a seasoning, instead of a main dish.  Diced bell pepper in a soup or in a meatloaf (that was a freebee), blends in, adds richness to the broth, and scads of vitamin C to whatever the dish.

This is the longest-winded recipe for soup you've ever read, isn't it? 

Next i found one frozen jalapeno and 3 frozen cayenne peppers in the freezer, chopped them up, seeds and everything, and added those to the soup.  

To top it off, i added generous dashings of fresh ground pepper, salt, and freeze dried poultry seasoning, along with a couple big scoops of chicken bouillon powder, to "beef up" the chicken-ness of the broth.

Then i let it simmer for a long time - maybe 2-3 hours.  Until we were ready to eat it.

It is wonderful served over rice.  I've also had leftovers over cornbread, which dulls the spiciness a little better than the rice.  I prefer the spiciness less diluted.

In any event, if you want to have a delicious, immune boosting, knock-the-illness-out-of-you, winter soup, i strongly recommend this recipe.   And even if you don't have a garden and a flock of chickens, i think you can pull of something similar.

Ingredients

One pound pre-cooked chicken
One quart chicken stock
One quart water
2 Cups diced bell pepper, green and red
1 whole jalapeno pepper, diced, seeds and all
3 whole cayenne peppers, diced, seeds and all
1 whole bulb of elephant garlic, chunked
Salt, Pepper, and Poultry Seasoning (preferably freeze dried or fresh), and chicken bouillon to taste.
Simmer until vegetables are soft.  Serve over rice or cornbread.
The broth will have a greenish color to it once the flavors are all infused.

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