Recovery Soup

by juno on December 28, 2010

Leftover turkey or chicken carcasses, flu or just a bad cold, suffering from holiday excess and needing to rest the old digestive system—whatever your trouble, this soup is the solution. We seem to live on the stuff these days.

Our version, influenced by Martha’s Indonesian-style chicken soup and Popsy’s variations on Martha’s soup, and tweaked over time, goes something like this:

Start with good stock, if you can. Take most of the meat off the carcass and put it (carcass, not meat) in a big stockpot with a roughly chopped onion, a big carrot and a few stalks of celery, both cut into a few bits, maybe a little salt, maybe a couple of teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar (alleged to draw nourishing minerals from the bones, or something). Bring to a boil and then simmer at least overnight or all day—sometimes we manage 24 hours (make sure it’s not too close to boiling, or the stock will disappear). Cool, remove excess fat, if you wish, and strain…

To make Recovery Soup:

Use a big soup pot. In a little olive oil, sauté an onion or two, a big knob of ginger cut into slivers (or however you like it), and a bunch of cloves of garlic, slivered or chopped small. Of course, as with anything, you can put in whatever you like: leeks, shallots, galangal, etc. Add a bunch of carrots, cut how you like them, and sauté a little more to bring out the sweetness in the carrots. Add chopped celery. If you wanted potatoes in the soup, add them here, too. I usually leave the starchy stuff out of the soup and pour it over rice noodles or rice to make a meal of it, but potatoes are nice, too. Add stock (a lot—don’t you want to eat this soup for days?) and simmer until veggies are cooked as you like them.

Add other green veggies, if you want: green beans are fab, and broccoli’s not too bad—neither needs to cook for long. I like mushrooms sometimes, but not everyone agrees with me. Cauliflower wouldn’t be without merit, either. Cook just until bright green (or just soft, in the case of the non-green veggies).

Greens go in at the last minute. One daughter loves spinach in soup, the other will only eat it shredded finely, so we shred it finely and put it in. Watercress is also good. These only need to cook for a few seconds, until bright green. And then, last of all, as much cilantro, chopped, as you can get your hands on. The ginger and the cilantro are what make this soup special. Turn the heat off right away, and season with tamari (soy sauce) and pepper. My husband pours sriracha or chili paste all over his, especially when we have the rice noodle version, to make it unbearably spicy. Swell for clearing the sinuses. When we make a good batch, it’s the best soup in the world, prized by grandmothers from Greece to Russia, from East to West, North to South.

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