Somehow, the last two months got away from me. Somewhere between Thanksgiving, June’s birthday, Christmas, that tiny obligation known as work and various perfectly timed illnesses affecting me and the kids in rapid, repeating succession, I have essentially avoided the kitchen anytime I wasn’t specifically entertaining.
Am I the only one, or is this is another part of that transition into adulthood no one really tells you about? You know, that part where the holidays more or less Christopher Guest you à la The Princess Bride: “I’ve just sucked one year of your life away…” I'm just now starting to recover!! My kids seemed to have a blast – which is ultimately all that counts. But I found myself so behind on gifts, decorating, meal planning, birthday planning, etc that I just wanted it to be over before it had begun; terrible attitude and not my usual modus operandi. Whaaa whaaaa…
You are waiting for the uplifting epiphany here, but there isn’t one. Sometimes, shit just feels too busy to do the things you like to do, which then just puts those things on the stressful list of Things You Haven’t Done.
Luckily, my freezer has been good to me. During one of my bouts of strange sore throat mixed with odd rash and intermittent hearing loss, I found a big container of my favorite chicken soup hiding in the back of my freezer. I am anal about labeling anything that goes into the freezer with what it is and the date I froze it, which is a relief when you find something that looks edible and you are wondering if indeed you made it in the last 12 months. And, so, out came the Avgolemono.
Everyone has a favorite chicken soup, and this one is mine. It’s a take on the Greek version, which is oh-so-lemony and made hearty by the timely addition of an egg or two. I’ve made it both with homemade and store-bought stock, I’ve roasted my own chicken and gotten a roaster from the store – anyway you go, it will be great.
And, even from the freezer, it’s bound to get you out of any food funk and make you feel uplifted and kind of whole in that spiritual way that only food will do.
January has already been nuts and February is looking just as crazy, and I’m not sure when I last showered. Rest assured that many friends tell me this is how they feel, which means it must be normal. And that alone makes it feel a little less frantic – doesn’t it?
8 cups chicken broth
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 medium leak, white and light green parts cleaned and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 bay leaves
1.5 cups roughly chopped carrot
1.5 cups diced celery
Cooled chicken breast, hand shredded from 2 split breasts (cooking directions below OR chicken from the breasts of a pre-cooked 4-5 pound roaster)
½ C fresh squeezed lemon juice
flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Saute leak and onion in olive oil until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaves, cooking 30-60 seconds. Add broth and bring to boil. Add celery and carrots and cook at low simmer for about 10 minutes. Shred cooked chicken by hand and add in. Bring back to low simmer. Whisk together lemon juice and eggs in medium bowl. VERY slowly add broth, ½ C at a time, into egg and lemon juice mixture, whisking constantly, until egg has been tempered – this keeps it from scrambling. After adding about 2 cups of the broth to the egg/lemon, stir back into soup pot and bring up to gentle simmer. Serve immediately, topped with some fresh chopped parsley, or let sit overnight to let flavors meld. Keeps in fridge up to 3 days. Apparently freezes for a really long time
For chicken breasts.
Bone in, baked:
Rub two bone in, skin on, chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in baking dish and cook at 350 for 55-60 minutes, or until juices run clear. Let cool a bit, then shred meat from bones. Can be made up to one day ahead. Save bones for broth!!
Skinless, boneless, poached:
Place one coarsely chopped onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 Tblsp of peppercorn, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves of garlic in a soup pan along with the two boneless, skinless breasts. Cover with enough cool water to completely submerge chicken. Bring to a low simmer, partially covered, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes, making sure not to boil. Remove chicken and discard liquid/reminaing solids. Let chicken sit until just cool enough to handle then hand shred. Add to recipe as above.