Chicken Soup And Raspberry Syrup
As I was shoveling and sweeping snow from my back steps and trekking along the slippery, snowy path to the mail box this morning, I found myself humming a little ditty that turned out to be my childhood version of the snow song from Winnie The Pooh (the book, that is; not the Disney version). “And the more it snows, tiddley pom, the more it goes on snowing.”
It certainly has gone on snowing lately; in fact, this is the longest stretch of snowy weather I can recall since 2008-9, when we had over 23 inches. Of course that’s nothing compared to the astonishing winter of 1968-69, when Seattle got over 67 inches of snow. (Really.) After a week of being snowed in, I’m very willing NOT to pursue any more records of that kind. We’ve had about a foot since Friday and that’s plenty, thanks. But it keeps on falling…
All this snow wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the ice layer underneath, which makes roads and even paths treacherous underfoot. My daily walk has become a daily trudge alternating with exciting moments when my feet skid suddenly. Despite the snow, flocks of robins are flitting around the edges of the woods, poking in the dried grasses for seeds, I suppose, since there are no bugs right now. Our local chickadees are already singing their springtime phoebe song, and I’m hoping they know something I don’t. At night, coyotes wail and yip in the woods, and the snow keeps falling.
After so many days indoors, I’ve had more than enough sitting and knitting and reading. Longing for something to do that requires standing up, I decided to get cooking! I last visited a grocery store on Thursday, so as my fridge empties out, I’m exploring the unplumbed depths of my freezer and finding some archival material that is definitely historical but probably no longer edible. However, I did find some of last summer’s raspberries, as well as some chicken thighs and a quart of chicken broth of more recent vintage. (It’s always a good idea to label and date things we consign to the freezer. Too bad I don’t always remember that!) No, I did not make raspberry soup, but here’s what did happen:
Fabulous Raspberry Syrup
Since I’m running low on raspberry jam, I thought I’d make another batch to carry me into summer. However, I only had 6 cups of fruit, not quite enough for a full batch of jam. Luckily, I also found an aging (but not scarily so) bottle of unsweetened tart cherry juice. Why not combine these two delectable ingredients? I did so, then discovered that I was a bit short on pectin. Happily, the directions for cherry jelly didn’t call for as much. I merrily poured the whole quart of tart cherry juice in with the raspberries before re-reading both recipes and realizing that my carefree calculations were…wrong. The bad news is that most of the jam didn’t set, though some I boiled down a little longer finally did achieve a soft set that’s good enough for toast. The very good news is that I now have half a gallon of extraordinarily delicious syrup that could make cardboard taste good.
And that chicken broth? I pretty much emptied out the vegetable bin and made a wintery chicken soup that tastes bright and fresh, sweet with orange juice, tart with cranberries, crunchy with kale, and rich with good broth. Onward!
Winter Chicken Soup
2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
i orange, juiced, rind grated
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken, chopped
1 quart chicken broth (homemade if you have it)
1 bunch kale, cut in thin ribbons
1 cup raw cranberries (frozen works fine)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
In a soup pot, combine oil, onion, garlic, leeks and salt over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until soft (5-6 minutes). Add celery, carrots, orange rind and juice, cover pan and cook until barely tender (3-4 minutes). Stir in chicken, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add broth (and water to cover if need be). Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add kale and cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes. Add paprika and salt to taste. Serves at least one.
As I write, the snow is still falling and more is predicted. Yet on my sunniest windowsill, a pot of tiny daffodils blooms bravely against a backdrop of snowy trees. Surely spring is on its way?