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CHICKEN SOUP 4 THE SOUL
and clam chowder
My family experienced a tragic and sudden death this week. As you can imagine, in my capacity as a funeral director, I confront death daily. Rearing people through this confusing and vague time has become second nature to me, and I take great pride in my ability to guide mourners. My career requires me to be a source of comfort—not just professionally—but more and more in my personal life as well. I never thought of my job as a leadership role, but people increasingly turn to me for guidance after loss, which makes sense being that I’ve made death and dying my career. Providing a shoulder to cry on or a leg to stand on has become as easy to me as waking up. This path has truly always been my calling, and growing into it in adulthood is one of the most beautiful and rewarding things I have ever done.
The truth is that the grief experience is so unique to each individual. The truth is that nobody wants to talk about it, and sometimes it’s too late to talk about it. The truth is that a person who is in the throws of losing a loved one is often simultaneously the best and the worst versions of herself. The only thing I can say that I know to work—my favorite and best advice—is to be gentle. Be gentle with yourself and with others. And I would say it’s okay to go ahead and apply that in most aspects of your life—not just grief.
This week I am going through it, and I want to share two soup recipes from past issues that I will be feeding my family this week. Rest in peace to my uncle, Clem McAlee. You were a treasure in this world, and I love you forever.
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
4 Quarts chicken broth
1 Whole chicken, butchered and seasoned
2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
5-8 Carrots, depending on the size
1 Bunch celery ribs
1 lb. pasta of your choice
Dill, parsley, and black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tsp. white vinegar
In a Dutch oven or stock pot, bring broth to a low simmer. Place chicken legs in, and simmer until fully cooked. Remove the legs from the broth, and do the same with the breast. Remove the breasts when cooked, and place all the poached chicken in the refrigerator to cool. Strain the broth into a separate container and set aside.
In the same pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low until the oil shimmers and easily coats the pot. Place the carrots and celery in and sweat them for 5 minutes, salt the vegetables with a tablespoon of kosher salt and continue to cook them until they become tender. Turn the burner off.
Take the cooled chicken out of the refrigerator and pull the meat into spoon-size pieces, discarding the skin and bones. Add the pulled chicken to the pot with the vegetables and fill the pot with broth until everything is submerged. Turn the burner to low. Meanwhile in a separate pot, cook your pasta in heavily salted water. When the pasta is cooked through, strain it out, and add it to the soup. You may need to add more broth at this point. Taste the soup and add more salt if needed. Chop a liberal amount of dill and parsley and add it to the soup along with some fresh-cracked pepper. Finally, add the juice of half a lemon or a half teaspoon of white vinegar. This will wake up and give balance to all the flavors in the soup. Keep in the fridge for 5 days or freezer for 3 months.
DO AHEAD. The chicken should be seasoned for 24 hours before being poached. Chicken can be poached & pulled the day before and stored in broth in the refrigerator. Broth can be made up for 4 days ahead.
A TIP. If upon cooling, the soup develops a layer of fat, that is GOOD. Don’t scrape it off. Just add the fat into the pot and let it melt back into the soup. It’s good for you.
1 lb. bacon sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 large leak, diced
8 carrots, cut into 1 inch coins
2 tbsp. Old Bay
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
8 oz. bottle clam juice
6 cans canned clams - do not drain
5-8 potatoes, quartered or cut into large pieces
1qt. chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
Handful of herbs - chives, parsley, dill, scallions
1 tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
This recipe is my adaptation of my family’s recipe.
In a Dutch oven brown the bacon on medium heat in two batches. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leaks and carrots and cook until they begin to soften. Add salt, Old Bae, and butter and scrape up any stuck-on bits from the bacon. Add flour and stir to incorporate until all the flour is completely absorbed. Add canned clams with their juices, clam juice, and potatoes. Stir until the soup starts to thicken. Add the broth and heavy cream. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat to medium low. Add half the cooked bacon. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and potatoes are cooked through. When the soup is done, add the vinegar, pepper, and chopped herbs. Top with herbs and bacon to serve.
As always, thanks for coming. I really couldn’t be happier that it’s finally fall. I love yinz and I’m here for you anytime.