I don't know what it is about chicken soup. I have childhood memories of my mom making me soothing Chinese chicken broth and tons of her lemon honey tea whenever I got a cold. I also vividly remember my beloved book on tape "Pierre: A Cautionary Tale" by Maurice Sendak that I would play over and over again whenever I was laid up in bed. The bratty Pierre with his careless response to his mother "I don't care" just struck a chord with me. :)
Over the years, I have come up with numerous versions of chicken soup. It always varies with whatever I have in the fridge at the time or pick up at the farmer's market. But one ingredient remains the same: leftover rotisserie chicken with bones for the broth. I can squeeze out so much flavor from the rotisserie chicken and bones that it just doesn't make sense for me to use anything else. I make a huge potful of chicken soup when I have the time and usually freeze a batch to have on hand for when I need a bowl.
Last week, I was really happy to come home from my quick weekend in San Francisco and find that I had a container full just waiting for me in my freezer to sooth my sore throat and stuffy nose. I like to add a twist of fresh lemon juice right before serving to brighten up the flavors of the broth. Kale can be easily replaced with fresh or frozen spinach. If you do not have maitake (hen-of-the-woods) mushrooms on hand, just replace it with whatever mushroom you have on hand. I used these because they had looked so gorgeous at the farmer's market. Plus, anything that means "dancing mushrooms" can be nothing but good!
CHICKEN, KALE AND MAITAKE MUSHROOM SOUP
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 Vidalia onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, whole
1/2 tbsp herbes de provence
1 branch fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
1 bay leaf1/2 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1/4 lb maitake mushrooms, cleaned with a brush and chopped roughly
1 leftover rotisserie chicken, bones and all
4 cups hot water
1 lemon, quartered (optional)
1. In a large stock pot, warm up oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until slightly golden and translucent. Then, add next four ingredients and mix together for 1 minute.
2. Add kale and mushrooms and stir fry for an additional 2-3 minutes. Then, add chicken and water. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce to low heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I like to cook the soup for at least an hour to really get all the flavors in there.
3. Remove rosemary, bay leaf and chicken bones from soup.
4. Take off all meat from chicken and roughly chop. Add back into soup. Serve in big bowl and squeeze one slice of lemon right before serving.