It is a real grey, wet Sunday. Rain, rain, rain.
As I am sitting in front of my computer sorting through the recipes I have lined up for you, I am listening to my kids playing in the other room. There is squealing and laughter. I hear some loud sounds, then a thud. More laughter. And then come the tears and shouting, one of the many fights between siblings that take place every hour at our house. I just checked on them a few minutes ago and restored the peace. I am not getting up again, they have to learn to sort things out on their own.
A car passes outside my window. I hear the water from a puddle splashing onto the sidewalk. It is good to be home. I listen to the familiar sound of the referee's whistle and the audience chanting and cheering on TV as F. lies on the couch in the living room watching the Sunday game.
Half of Italy is underwater this today, not just Venice. The levels of the Po river are rising alarmingly and many cities in Piedmont are at risk. Liguria, Genoa in particular, is on its knees. Hundreds of people are working and digging, the city is reacting. This will not bring back the people who died, it will not give the two children back the life that lay ahead of them. That is how the world goes. Some of us sit in the warmth and safety of our homes while others grieve the loss of their loved ones. Unfortunately this happens every day, everywhere.
But for today my thoughts go out to those families. In Genoa, in Naples, in Thailand.
This recipe warms the body, the heart, the soul. The chicken is tender, the broth savory and complex. On the first day, it is delicous on the rice you serve with the chicken. The second day it reaches a whole new level as a soup in its own standing, with little nuggets of meat, any seasonal vegetable you care to add and some noodles of choice.
It is true what they say, chicken soup for the body and for the soul.
When I saw this recipe posted on Not Quite Nigella, I knew I had to make it. She adapted it from a recipe published by Marion Grasby. Thanks Lorraine, thanks Marion! This has become a new family favorite.
Ingredients for chicken
1 bunch coriander/cilantro
garlic, 10 cloves
black peppercorns, about 10
5 whole star anise
a whole chicken
1/2 cup dark soy sauce (I used regular, my chicken didn't turn out as dark Lorraine's)
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
Ingredients for soup
Leftover stock (and chicken if you have any left) from chicken
pumpkin (I used some leftover roasted pumpkin)
Cut the coriander, roots and leaves, and set aside some leaves for garnish. Place the rest in a mortar with the peeled garlic and pepper and bash until you obtain a paste. In a large pot, preferably cast iron, cook the paste in a little vegetable oil for about a minute. Add the whole chicken and brown on each side. Next add in the soy sauce, the fish sauce, the star anise and the sugar. Then pour in enough cold water to cover or almost cover the chicken (if it doesn't, you can turn the chicken over halfway through).
Let simmer for about one hour. In the meantime cook or steam some white rice.
After an hour lift the chicken out of the stock and place on a serving plate and let it cool.Save the stock and use it to make a soup, adding seasonal vegetables, noodles and sprinkling with some bonito flakes for that extra umami if you have any on hand.
Lorraine also suggests using the stock in the place of water to make a savory rice dish.
Oh, by the way, if you feel like playing a guessing game, hop on over here. Although if you read this blog, you already know the answer!