Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Onion

As you all know (or as you should all know, rather), the President gave his State of the Union address last night and presented the nation and the world with his plans for the coming year. Now, all political affiliations and opinions aside, it is supposed to be an evening of tradition, formalities and nationalism. For me, it was an evening of chicken noodle soup. My mom made her special, homemade batch of rich, yellow broth and skinny soup noodles with bits of chicken, carrots and of course, onions. And seeing as Chicago hasn't seen anything warmer than 30 degrees in weeks (that's Fahrenheit for those of you who are scoffing), a big bowl of chicken soup sounded ideal.

But as I looked down into my bowl, I saw large, translucent arcs of onion swimming in my soup. Not my favorite. I don't have any major qualms about the onion. I can respect its ability to flavor just about anything, but unlike garlic, I do not like the sharp taste it leaves on my tongue. So you can imagine my disgust (ok, now I'm just being melodramatic) when I saw this intruder in my soup. But when one of those slimy suckers snuck onto my spoon, I found I rather enjoyed the sweet flavor and could appreciate its contribution to my dinner. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite draw the same conclusions from the State of the Union.

Being the good Jewish mother that she is, my mom has refused to disclose her chicken soup recipe. However, I can highly recommend this one that you can find on our site:

Feel Good Chicken Soup


4 medium celery ribs, sliced (about 2 C.) 4 large carrots, sliced (about 2 C.)
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 C.)
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
3 qts. Chicken Stock with Roasted Vegetables (recipe below)
4 chicken breast halves with ribs, cooked, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 C. dry sherry
2 C. uncooked long-grain white rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper


In the bottom of a large pot cook the celery, carrots, and onions in the olive oil until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the pot. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the cooked chicken pieces to the pot. Add the dill, sherry, and rice to the pot. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Chicken Stock with Roasted Vegetables


4 chicken back pieces
4 chicken breast halves with ribs
3 whole onions, quartered
6 cloves garlic
3 large carrots, cut into thirds
1 large green bell pepper, quartered
3 celery stalks, cut into thirds
2 Tbs. fresh thyme
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary
1 bunch parsley, washed and patted dry


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken backs, chicken breasts, onions, garlic, carrots, green pepper and celery into a large roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the skin and cut the breast meat from the bone and set it aside. (Refrigerate for other use.) Place all of the vegetables and chicken bones into an 8-qt. stockpot. Cover with water. Add the thyme, rosemary, and parsley to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for at least 2 hours over very low heat. Strain the stock by pouring the contents of the pot through a colander. You may season the stock with salt and pepper at this point or wait until you use it in a soup or sauce. The stock may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or frozen for several weeks.