Saturday, November 7, 2009


I believe the second most important Italian dish to soothe the soul is definitely Chicken Soup.

A couple of years ago, my 93 year old mom and I went to visit my son Joey in Los Angeles, California for Thanksgiving. His better half, Kristin had gone home to Michigan, to visit her parents for the holiday, so we had free range of the kitchen. We stuffed a 22 lb turkey(Italian Sausage Stuffing) and had it all to ourselves for the whole week.

One of the courses for the meal was Chicken Soup. It is said, that necessity is the mother of invention, so, lacking a few extra burners, I created this soup, which I called, LA Holiday Soup.

The first thing I do is take four split chicken breasts, bone in, and remove the skin. I place the chicken in a pot of cold water and bring the water to a boil. I remove the chicken, wash it, and throw away the water washing any scum that has stuck to the pot. I then place the chicken breasts back into the clean pot and fill with fresh cold water and start the cooking process.

Into the pot I put a large onion chopped and a cup of celery chopped including the center tender stalks with the leaves. To that I add one pound of cleaned and sliced carrots. Being Italian, I also add a clove of garlic, smashed and sliced, and a little salt and pepper. Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat to a medium simmer.

I wanted to have brussel sprouts as a vegetable, so I cut the bottoms and cleaned the leaves, and having no room on the stove to cook them separately, I decided to put them into the simmering soup. I cooked them until they were tender, and removed them from the soup and put them into a covered dish, drizzling them with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and adding some smashed and sliced garlic with a little salt and red pepper seeds. That solved the veggie dish and the soup had the wonderful taste of the sprouts and all of the nutrients they bring.

While the soup continued to simmer, I peeled and cut the yams into large cubes and placed them in a sauce pan to par boil. Once the yams are tender but firm, I take them out of the water and put them into a saute pan, saving the water for cooking the yams and I decided to add some of the water to the soup as some of the water had evaporated. Here, again, we have added the flavor of the yams and all of their nutritious value to the soup.

When the chicken breasts are cooked, remove and cool. Remove all of the chicken from the bone being careful not to leave any little bones behind, tear or cut the chicken into smaller pieces. Check again for bones, and return the boned chicken to the pot. When time for dinner approaches, you may boil 1/2 lb of small pasta such as bows, farfalle, tubettini, orzo, or any other that you prefer. You may also add chopped escerole to the soup just before serving.

I then add butter, to the saute pan and started cooking the yams, adding brown sugar and cinnamon, while cooking the yams down to a chunky consistency, using the yam water if I need more liquid. When the yams are just about ready, I add a little Benedictine Brandy to them which gives them a flavor like nothing you have ever tasted before.

And there you have it. All of this is happening while the turkey is roasting in the oven. Just add cranberry sauce, and a delicious salad and you have a Thanksgiving Dinner fit for a King.

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