winter chicken soup. turmeric. spruce. citrus. ginger.magic soup.

When the new year rolls around. I am ready to eat a little cleaner. The holidays are inevitably debaucherous and while I love it and fully partake, this year I felt more than ever the need to start the year off a little lighter. I cut out wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, you might ask what else is there? I asked myself that too but after ten days at this I am pleasantly surprised that I don't feel deprived at all, well, almost at all! I will admit to missing cheese. Pecorino is my Kryptonite.

 

I was recently asked to develop some recipes for Toast, one of my favorite UK companies for their blog Toast Travels. I decided to go with a warming chicken soup. I make bone broths and stocks on a regular basis and always have, maybe it came out of a  moderately Hippy upbringing along with growing up in a New England waste not want not family or perhaps it's my Southern Italian Grandmother, who like the New Englander's, carried that same credo. At any rate, no chicken carcass goes unused in this house ever! What I love most about soups and broths is that they are so damn easy and adaptable. They are most forgiving as you can add a little more of this and a little less of that and put your own twist on it. Soup is magic, and I have been playing at making soup since I first heard the folk tale Stone Soupas a child . When you give a kid a pot and a wooden spoon to play with they generally tell you they are making soup.  They do so with big sweeping gestures of the wooden spoon turning 'round in the pot andthey do so as they collect everything but the kitchen sink and throw it all into their make believe soup. As adults, we do the the same. Soup is a food we more often than not associate with comfort and childhood and home and a little bit of magic.

This one is a twist on a classic chicken soup,with copious hits of ginger, sumac, winter citrus, spruce, turmeric and chili. It is a powerful soup and will warm you to you bones.

In our house we drink this morning noon and night from December to April and often fill thermos to bring to work. 

xx

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Chicken Soup with Citrus SpruceTurmeric and Ginger

 

 

This soup is a spicy bright healing broth with notes of citrus, ginger, turmeric and chilies. This is slow cooked and should be started in the morning. 

 

 

We make this every time we roast a chicken. We never let the carcass go to waste. We often have left over meat from the roast chicken, so we deserve that to add to the finished broth.

Clean a roasted chicken carcass, reserving any bits of meat.

 

In 7 quart pot, place all the following ingredients:

1 carcass of a large roasting chicken along with any skin or scrapings from the roasting pan.

2 whole heads of garlic skin on cut in half

1 large yellow onion cut in half

2 cups coarsely chopped ginger

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

5 cups chopped celery (leaves and stems)

3 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh turmeric 

 2 fresh halved lemons or 2 whole preserved lemons

1 satsuma orange halved

2 bunches parsley

1 bunch fresh thyme

2 dried chiles de árbol chilies 

1 teaspoon dried sumac

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons kosher salt

A dash of olive oil

 

optional

1 cup loosely packed spruce or pine (optional) spruce and pine is high in vitamin c

 

20 cups filtered water

 

Set to simmer on medium heat. When the stock comes to a boil, lower the heat and leave on a bare simmer for 7 hours.

Add more water if need be.

 

Occasionally stir the pot, and hour or so before straining I give it a good mashing with the side of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break up all the ingredients.

 

Discard the debris and strain through a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth.

 

Salt to taste.

 

Add pieces of roasted chicken, shaved celery.  Add grated pecorino if you wish.

 

 

Makes 10 cups broth.

 

images ©Andrea Gentl/Gentl and Hyers 2015

 recipes ©Hungry Ghostl 2015

where the wild things are no.18. spruce tip honey and other bits.

A few years ago, an Austrian friend gave me a jar of spruce tip honey he had made in a big pot in his yard, over a fire, upstate. I was fascinated by the idea. He told me that it is easy to make a spruce pine or fir tip syrup from the young green tips of the spruce tree, fir or pine tree.

The spruce tip syrup strangely tastes of wild strawberries and citrus with just a hint of pine.  This is strange I know, but odd and beautiful at the same time!

I had planned to make it the following year but time slipped by and I found myself upstate at the wrong time to collect the young spruce tips. This year, however I was determined to make it! A forager friend and supplier, Evan Strusinksi, who collects for many well known chefs, sent me some spruce tips he collected in Southern Vermont. Simultaneously, we gathered a big batch of our own from upstate. So with a huge pile of spruce tips I set to work to make the mysteriously beautiful syrup! Spruce tips can also be used in various recipes; many chefs are using this wild ingredient on their spring menus. A little on line research came produced some quick shortbread, salts, pickled spruce tips and other interesting uses. So far, I have only had time to make the syrup but I have a big bag of tips in my refrigerator and they seem to keep quite well for a long time so perhaps I will get around to a bit more experimentation in the coming weeks.

Spruce, pine and fir tips are all edible and can be used to make syrup. They are very high in vitamin c. I imagined the syrup would be good on with seltzer, or in a cocktail mixed with a little gin and soda, on pancakes or in tea or as some research shows, it makes for a great spoonful of vitamin c to ward off and alleviate colds and sore throats! It seems like the perfect all around staple for a  fall/winter pantry. In some parts of the country it is too late to pick the young tips but if you are lucky and you hurry you may be able to set a jar aside for winter use., You  will want to pick the tips young because the resin qualities increase as they mature.

I found that with most things there were various techniques out there for making this syrup or honey as some call it.

I ended up going my own way because the jar that my Austrian friend had given me was quite dark in color and quite thick as opposed to the clear syrups I was seeing on line.

This recipe is really simple. I went with equal parts sugar and spruce tips and added a little extra water.

I combined all three and brought the tips and the sugar water to a boil making sure not to burn it or over boil the pot. I stirred constantly for 5 minutes or so to make sure all the sugar was dissolved. I then reduced the heat to a simmer and let it cook down slowly for three hours until it was a beautiful rose color and a little bit syrupy. It thickens quite a bit when cooled.

I then strained the tips out through a sieve and discarded them. I jarred the syrup in a sterilized quart jar and refrigerated it for later use. From what i have read on line, this syrup will last up to 4 months or longer if refrigerated.

 

See the below links for some interesting recipes found on line or check out The Wild Table by Connie Green for a salt recipe and a great spruce tip vodka. As with any wild food make sure to properly identify it before cooking with it or consuming it!

I used a different method to make mine but there is some interesting inspiration here.

http://medcookingalaska.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-harvest-spruce-tips-with-recipes.html

http://honest-food.net/veggie-recipes/sweets-and-syrups/spruce-or-fir-tip-syrup/

 

 

SPRUCE TIP SYRUP/HONEY

5 cups spruce tips

6 cups water

5 cups sugar

 

 

Method

Coarsely chop spruce tips

Combine water, spruce tips and sugar in a large pot.

Bring to a boil stirring constantly for five minutes.

Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so on low or until the syrup thickens to your liking.

The color will be a light a rose. 

Remember that the syrup will thicken as it cools, so you may want to test a spoonful by letting it cool to check desired consistency. If you over boil it and it becomes too thick, you can add some water to thin it down, but the color will end up be a darker honey color as opposed to the rose.

The longer you simmer it the thicker and darker it will become.