Lilies trying really hard.
Spring in Nova Scotia fights a valiant battle and struggles mightily to work itself out and when it does happen we are rewarded with the most spectacular beauty. Everything is lush and there is suddenly life where soggy branches and leaves from last year used to lay. Before that? Weeks of miserable rain and fog. It is as if the clouds have descended to the sky and yesterday, the fog fulfilled its duties. It was formidable and when not eating my neighbours it wept tears upon my balcony. If you tried hard enough you could reach out and hold a piece of the atmosphere in your hand to take a peek at The Mystery. The magic that carries spring aloft is held in that fog.
The damp cold that comes with fog is entirely different than the kind that dances on your cheeks with snow in the winter. This cold settles into you and smoulders dry ice in your belly. The only way to chase away these gnomes of heavy atmosphere is to quench them with soup. This is the soup to do it. It is is rich and creamy but there are no heavy noodles to stop you from searching for puddles to stomp.
The secret is time. This soup is so fragrant and heady and the only way to actually experience and enjoy it properly is to let it simmer over the stove all day. Our little apartment smelled like a haven for all cold wanderers.
6 chicken drumsticks
one cup corn
one cup peas
one potato, diced
one purple onion, diced
3 – 4 cloves garlic (let your tastes direct you)
to taste: rosemary
crushed black pepper
1. Caramelize your onions in olive oil. Once juicy and golden remove from the pot because you do not want to burn them when you turn up the heat. Check out the best caramelized onions in Thursday Basics.
2. Dust your chicken in a bit of potato starch. I added fresh rosemary, sea salt and cracked black pepper to the dusting.
3. Turn up the heat and add a bit more oil to your pot, you don’t want to scorch the chicken. Chicken is notoriously difficult to brown which is why you add the dusting of starch, it is actually the starch you are browning. Once the chicken is a a rich and crisp golden colour pur in a hefty glug of white wine, sprinkle with just another light dusting of potato starch and let it simmer.
4. Boil down the wine then fill the pot with stock and water: About 3 parts stock for one part water. Return the caramelized onions to the pot.
5. Bring to a boil for about 15 minutes to seriously cook the chicken. When the chicken is cooke, lower to a simmer and add the entire potato and half the vegetables. Rinse the potato really well to wash off any of the starch that escapes. I only add half the vegetables now so that they will break down a bit and add flavour to the soup. The starch will help naturally thicken it a bit. Remember, there are no noodles in this soup. At this point, give a little taste to see if you need to add any salt or any other herbs. Be careful adding at this point because this soup is intended to simmer all day and the flavours bloom with time (which means if you over salt now you are slightly screwed.*)
6. At about 15 minutes prior to serving add the reserved vegetables and remove all the meat from the bones. That is, if it hasn’t fallen off already.
I feel like I ought to add a disclaimer about my recipes because they are not so much die hard recipes but guidelines. I rarely use measurements because my cooking is visceral. I use all my senses to cook and I trust my own taste and I know what my family likes to eat. So do you. Always taste your food. That is my one rule. Put your whole self into your food, it’s the only way.
*If you are ever making a soup and you find it too salty, put in a whole potato and boil for a few minutes. When you remove the potato you will find it has removed some of that extra saltiness.