One of my favorite Mardi Gras costumes this year was a woman with a jacket embroidered with the message” I’m ok! You’re ok!” It felt both celebratory and comforting and like a mini pep-talk to all of us.
I’m ok! You’re ok!
Sure, it may not always be true. What’s always true is that I’m more ok when you’re ok – and we all have the blessed work of taking care of one another. That feels especially true this week and these days. Though… taking care of each other looks more like staying away from each other and that’s a hard thing to grapple with.
I’ve been looking for calm and comfort all week so my offering today is warm and broth-y. It could have just as easily been melty and chocolate so certainly feel free to choose what feels best for you.
This soup utilizes the Whole Roasted Meyer Lemons we talked about earlier this week. Good ideas surround us. Please do.
Here’s what you’ll need for this soup:
• Onions, chopped. Garlic, chopped. Carrots, peeled and diced. Celery, sliced. The fundamentals of soup, really.
• Chicken thighs (boneless, skinless) because I always use this cut of chicken. Go for chicken breast if you prefer.
• Peeled and finely diced fresh ginger, for spice and health.
• Olive oil and butter.
• Chicken stock. I had a lucky stash of homemade stock in the freezer, otherwise this is my favorite for ease and flavor.
• Roasted lemons, fresh thyme, fresh dill, and fresh parsley. Bright flavors, we deserve it.
Start by warming the oil and butter in a heavy-bottom pot. Add the chicken when the fat is hot enough to sizzle the chicken.
Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.
Allow the chicken to sear on both sides until golden brown on each. The pieces of chicken might not be cooked all the way through – that’s ok! Get it mostly cooked and well-browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a plate.
In the same pot the chicken was cooked in, toss the onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, and celery. All the veggies.
We’ll cook everything until lightly softened.
The moisture from the vegetables will help scrape any of the chicken bits off the bottom of the pan. That’s great- the more flavor bits the better.
The carrots will soften just slightly. The onions will cook to translucent. The celery will soften a bit. The whole mixture will be delightfully fragrant.
Add fresh thyme leaves, and a bit of dill and parsley if you’d like. Just hand tear the herbs. It’s the easy way.
Add the cooked chicken after you’ve run a knife through it to bite-size pieces.
And our glorious roasted lemons – add two whole lemons to the mix. The flesh will steep into the soup. The oils from the skin will seep into the broth. It adds a big bright richness to the pot of soup.
Chicken stock and a bay leaf and a good long simmer. The chicken will cook through while the vegetables soften. It’s all very good news for our bellies and our souls.
While the soup simmers, I boiled a cup of Israeli couscous until soft and drained. Any kind of pasta you’d like will do. I boiled it separately so it doesn’t overcook or mush in the soup – especially since I’m going to eat it for several days and freeze the leftovers.
Ladle generously into bowls, top with couscous, and tear herbs over top.
Remove the lemon and any seeds you might hunt down in the soup. Remove the bay leaf too. Discard but thank them for their flavor and service.
This soup freezes well. A little gift of comfort to our future selves.
I’m ok! You’re ok!
Photos with my friend Jon Melendez.