This blog is devoted to teaching ethics and moral reasoning to young children. Therefore, for reasons explained herein, it is appropriate to talk about chicken soup. Chicken soup has been addressed and used as a trope in an entire series of books intended to edify us in every facet of our lives. No doubt the reader is familiar with at least one of these poultry-laden volumes. The last chicken book I read was titled Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. It was a useful, delightful and uplifting volume that offered sound meaningful advice for teaching writing skills and enhancing motivation to hit the keyboard and engage in the maddening process.
I thought a lot about the chicken soup motif in the context of making people better, generally, and making children stronger, specifically. I have no reason to doubt that chicken soup is good for the soul, particularly if you add a matzo ball, some celery and finely ground pepper. But, as for raising strong moral children, we need something more than chicken soup for the soul. We need to give children tempered steel for the mind, something that can hold an edge; something they can count on; something that will protect them.
If my memory is accurate, and these days, who knows, there was a quotes in that chicken soup book for the writer and whether or not it is in the book, it is among the most astute and motivating quotes I’ve read. The source of the quote is Mike Price. I have no idea who he is but his statement is magnificent. “More people have talent than discipline. That’s why discipline pays better.” Discipline and hard work and persistence trump talent. Always did; always will. That’s a key lesson for children, no matter how old.
Thus, since my thoughts have been strutting around in the realm of chickens, it is appropriately symbolic to share with the reader the recipe for making what I think is the finest chicken soup or chicken broth on the planet. I haven’t visited every restaurant or home on the planet, admittedly, but I’ve never tasted a better soup. The key is the initial preparation. It is more difficult, adds perhaps 20 minutes of preparation time but is well worth the effort.
The typical way of making chicken soup is to place a chicken or chicken parts in a stock pot, add the vegetables—carrots, celery, cilantro, garlic, onion, shallots—and add the spices—ground pepper, tarragon, basil, bay leaf, oregano, etc—add water to cover the ingredients and then perhaps two quarts more water and simmer for a few hours. The finest cookbooks I own and have read almost always give this recipe for making chicken stock.
No more. Not for my readers!!!
Here’s what you do. Take all the ingredients—the chicken, the vegetables, the spices—and place them in a dry empty stock pot—no water, no butter, no olive oil—and place the pot on medium heat and cook the ingredients until some of the vegetables and the chicken or / and the bones char or blacken slightly. This could take up to 20 minutes. The chicken fat will liquefy; some of the vegetables will sauté and some liquid will release from the vegetables. Stir the ingredients every few minutes so they don’t burn more than slightly. The fragrance will be ethereal.
When done, add water and bring the stock to a simmer, but NOT a boil. Let the soup simmer and reduce for a few hours. Allow the liquid to bubble only slightly but not boil. The color of the soup will be dark and rich; the fragrance filling the room will be more alluring than that in any perfume shop. The taste will transport you, unlike the thin dish water-like flavor from stock made the way I first described.
Now you have two choices: leave the soup the way it, eating as you see desirable and spitting out the bones, presumably, or or strain it, removing the chicken the bones and the vegetables. Either way, you have the best chicken stock in the world.
There you have it. Teach your children to make this luxurious stock so they can experience the joy and value of making something delicious and healthy.