Betsy Wharton/for Peninsula Daily News Fresh vegetables are used in Betsy Wharton’s chicken soup recipe.

PENINSULA KITCHEN: Cure for a cold? Make chicken broth

IS THERE ANYONE out there who hasn’t been the unwitting target of a cough or sneeze recently?

It seems that everywhere I go, I encounter some glassy-eyed acquaintance sharing the dreaded cough.

Up until last Sunday, I was bragging about having made it nearly to spring without so much as a sniffle.

I should have knocked on wood because that’s when my winning streak ended.

A lot has been said about washing one’s hands as a good way to avoid getting sick in winter.

I am not here to refute that, but sanitizer in a pump bottle is no substitute for fresh air, natural light, plenty of good sleep and nourishing food.

On the top on my list of culinary medicine for cold and flu is the aromatic clear broth of a good chicken soup.

Fortunately, it was Sunday, I had gone to the farmers market the day before and I had everything I needed to make a long-­simmering pot of what some refer to as Jewish penicillin.

If you got 100 moms and grandmothers in a room and asked for their chicken soup recipes, you’d get 100 variations on the theme.

They are all good, but here is my personal version that varies depending on the season.

My husband once described this as a “bowl full of soul comfort.”

This is slow food in the making, and part of the magic comes from the aromatic healing in the house as it simmers.

Chicken Soup

1 whole chicken (without the giblets).

4 to 5 cups of aromatic vegetables cut into chunks but not peeled including parsnip, carrot, leek, garlic and celeriac.

Herbs including bay, thyme and parsley.

Another 4 to 5 cups of vegetables including cabbage, parsnip, onion, carrot and rutabaga.

Salt and pepper

Place the chicken in a large heavy soup pot and cover with water.

Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or so.

Skim the gray gunky foam from the surface of the water. If you want a really nice, clear broth, turn off the heat, discard the water and start again with fresh water.

And if you want a lower fat soup, it’s easy to remove the skin at this point.

Now add the vegetables, herbs and salt.

Simmer for 90 minutes or until the chicken bones are easy to pull apart.

Breathe in frequently as the kitchen fills with the steamy aroma.

Turn off the heat and allow it to rest until cool enough to handle.

Pour the contents of the pot through a colander into another large pot or bowl.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and set aside.

Return the strained broth to your soup pot.

Add some fresh vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces.

Now that snow has melted outside, I found a second-year parsley plant in the garden and some nettles and threw that in as well.

Return about half of the chicken meat to the pot, storing the rest for another meal later in the week.

Simmer this together for 20 minutes or so, just long enough to soften the vegetables.

Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve.

This is optional but well worth it: Rather than discard the carcass, place it in a crockpot along with the cooked vegetables, add new water and a couple of spoons of apple cider vinegar.

Simmer overnight, up to 24 hours.

Turn off the heat in the morning and strain when cool.

Save this bone broth for use in whatever you are cooking throughout the week.

It won’t be as clear, but it is richly flavored and nourishing.

________

Betsy Wharton is a Port Angeles Farmers Market vendor, Washington State University Extension food preservation information assistant and a registered nurse at First Step Family Support Center. More about her pickling enterprise can be found at www.Clallam CanningCompany.com.

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