Sunday, October 11, 2009


I'm getting acclimated to Boise, which is a fair accomplishment, considering I was in the moderate and damp climate of Tokyo for the past 32 years and am now high and dry here. So cold is not as awful where I am now as it was when I was where I was. Even so, as nighttime temperatures range in the 30s, it is a good time for soups and chili and stews to ward off the different form of cold.
Today is chicken-vegetable soup, which is another way of saying "cleaning out the fridge soup." I found a packet of three decent chicken thighs with the skin and bones still there, hiding in the freezer, put them in a big pot with a nicely chopped medium onion, three cloves of garlic, two carrots, two sticks of de-veined celery, a chopped fistfull or two of green beans, a tomato, a half-dozen sliced white mushrooms, and six golf ball-sized redskin potatoes and covered with water, added about a teaspoon of salt and a mortar-ground blend of black, white, rose, green and Jamaica peppercorns, one each of chicken and vegetable boullion, and a finely chopped fistfull of herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and chives) and a little more dried Italian parsley, a dash of chili powder, and three chopped green onions. It's a good idea to allow at least a couple of hours for this. First vover the pot and bring the combination to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir once in awhile, until the chicken kinda gives up and sheds the skin. Drain off any ugly brownish bubbles. Pause a moment to remove the chicken, remove the skin, bones and gristle and shred the chicken meat, returning it to the pot with the veggies. Add one 5.5-ounce can of V-8 juice, unless you have a good reason not to, and stir the ingredients again, cover the pot and let it simmer again for an hour, stirring now and then.
By this time, no doubt, you will have had at least one glass of wine and should be rooting around for a baguette or some other nice crusty bread to soak up all the delicious flavor melange you are creating. Resist the temptation to ladle the soup out for at least 90 minutes, and longer if possible, because all those flavors are getting to know each other better, and you will reap the benefits.
Stay warm, and bone appetit!