Join Me in the Kitchen: Spring Thyme Chicken Soup

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OK…What IS the deal with this weather?? Holy moly…we have gone from sunburn back to frost bite seemingly every other day. We have had enough winter, thank you very much! I think it is especially annoying under our current “pandemic self-isolation”. Staying home wouldn’t seem so bad if we could at least enjoy our backyards or be able to go for a walk without layering up! I remember when my boys were little, I would insist on them layering up to be warm, and sending them waddling out the door to play in the yard with the dog. I always wanted to be sure they were warm enough… I’m sure you know the old adage, Mom’s cold so everyone has to put a sweater on! I never wanted them to catch a chill and get sick. I know, you science says you can’t get sick from simply getting cold, but still, staying warm can’t hurt! Keeping our families healthy is a prerogative of every parent. I never want to see a loved one under the weather, but sometimes it does happen…

As most every Grandma will tell you, the best cure for what ails you (coronavirus not withstanding) is chicken soup…and I for one am a very strong supporter of that theory. Perhaps it’s not medically proven, but as far as I’m concerned, nothing makes the aches lesson quicker than a steaming bowl of rich broth loaded with chunks of chicken and tender noodles. Think about it…the steam will help clear your sinuses, the warm broth soothes an aching throat, the chicken will provide nourishment for a weary body and the love included when you make it will soothe the soul!

In my opinion, chicken soup is one of the easiest and most versatile soups you can make. Whether you start from scratch with a raw chicken or cut a few corners and open a can of broth, the additions you can make to create your very own homemade soup are endless. Watching your weight? Start with a low fat broth or simply chill your homemade stock and skim off the solidified fat to cut the fat content. Likewise, you can limit the sodium you add and keep the flavor by substituting herbs or spices for salt. I like my soups to be really hearty, so I add not only lots of meat, but chunky veggies and potatoes as well.

Chicken soup is a great way to repurpose leftovers, too. That handy can of chicken stock I like to keep in my cupboard will turn leftover rotisserie chicken into a terrific soup for lunch the next day. If I find myself with a cup or two of leftover chicken and gravy (after last night’s chicken and biscuits), a little half and half added to the gravy will give me a creamy chicken soup too good to pass up.

Whether it comes from a can or your own handy work, not much says “I’m thinking of you” more than a warm bowl of soup! In these days of uncertainty, we need all of the love, kindness and support we can get, so why not make a nice big pot of soup to share? A quart of homemade soup left on a neighbors stoop, (after a knock on the door) will surely be met with a smile, and perhaps the thought to pay the kindness forward. Remember, kindness grows! Stay healthy, my friends…

Spring Thyme Chicken Soup

Serves 8

1 whole chicken, cut up (or 4 leg ¼ s)
1 t salt
½ t pepper
1 lemon, cut in ¼ s
1 gallon water

2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 stalk celery, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
Additional salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, cook chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon for 1- 1 ½ hours (until chicken is falling off the bones). Once chicken is very tender, remove chicken from broth (save broth for next step). Carefully remove skin and bones from the meat, returning the meat to the reserved broth.
Put all remaining ingredients into the broth with the chicken. Cook over low heat for 1 hour. Remove thyme bundle before serving.

Serve with crusty bread…Yummo!!

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.