Monday, October 27, 2008

Chicken Soup for a Knee

On the way down the stairwell to my car this morning, I noticed a twinge in my knee. Not my "normal" knee pain, which has honestly gone away since I started doing CrossFit 3x/week. But a sharp, insistent pain right about where my tibia (or is it fibula?) connects to the bottom of the whole "knee assembly" (as I'm sure some other enginerd would call it). I pretty much winced the entire day, and took the elevator multiple times, which is ridiculous since I normally traverse the 7 flights of stairs at least once, if not multiple times per workday.

My point, you may ask? Well, I'm not going to pilates class tonight. So... what to do when you have some time and it's nippy out?

Make soup, of course! I have also found that soup is a great diet aid - it's really flavorful, you can make it low-fat, and since a soup is mostly liquid and vegetables (my soups are, anyway), you're filling up on stuff that you should be eating in the first place.

I don't really have a recipe, since I am pretty good at eyeballing what I should buy in order to fill up my relatively small 3 qt pot. But, I will try to come up with something. This is another "use what you have" recipe. If you LOVE garlic and hate onion, then do that. Love cilantro? Add it in! Hate potatoes? Leave 'em out! :) Vegan? Hm... maybe some Sei-tan broth?? ;-) (actually, I feel a mushroom broth might be good here...)

RECIPE (for 3 qt pot. Adjust to fit your own pot!)

1.5 - 2 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (you don't have to use bone-in or skin-on, but in my opinion, these additions really increase the flavor of the soup. Why do you think stock is made with bones? Tastes better! :) )

Filtered water, to cover the chicken thighs

1 small head of garlic, peeled and minced (use as much as you like)

1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces

4-5 stalks celery, ends removed, chopped into 1/2-1" slices

2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off from ear into bowl (or you could use frozen corn)

4-5 carrots, chopped into 1/2-1" pieces (I used pre-cut "baby" carrots, since I had part of a bagful in my fridge)

4-5 small potatoes, chopped into 1-2" pieces

Salt, pepper, assorted spices to taste (e.g. bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, etc.)

Assorted flavorings, e.g. jalapenos, bean sprouts, etc.



Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat up to High. Put the chicken thighs in the pot, cover with water. Add a healthy pinch of salt at this point. Add more than you think you need. Cover the pot and let it come to a boil.

Once the pot is boiling, lower the heat down to med / low and let it simmer for about 30 min. In the meantime, you might see white scum accumulate on the top of the water - skim it out with a spoon; it's proteins from the chicken (no harm done!).

Use the time that the chicken is simmering to chop your vegetables. Getting everything to a uniform size aids in uniform cooking, so your potatoes aren't mush when your carrots are done.

Once the chicken is cooked (I fish out a thigh and cut into it till I reach bone, to check for doneness), take the thighs out and let them cool on a plate, on the countertop. Finish chopping your veggies. Turn the stove off and let everything cool down.

Peel the chicken meat off the thighs. Here is how I do it: I have a bowl set aside for "food waste" (since my building has a food waste bin!). I run a slow trickle of cold water and grab a chicken thigh, then put my hands under the water with the thigh. I peel off the skin and put that in the waste bowl, then I use the water to keep my hands from burning as I peel off the chicken meat. I should note that I usually don't want to wait till the chicken is ACTUALLY cooled off. A little extra water in your meat won't really affect anything... this is soup, after all! :)

Dump the chicken meat back in the pot, along with your vegetables. Turn the stove burner back up to medium, and let the veggies and chicken simmer in the broth you just made.

When everything is done to your liking, check for seasoning, and adjust salt / pepper if necessary. :)

Here is a gratuitous picture of my soup after I dumped everything into the pot to simmer. :)


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