I was going to head over to Watts Grocery for lunch today but I have succumbed to an evil cold and didn't feel like going. Instead I decided to make some chicken soup. The great 13th c. Jewish philosopher and doctor Maimonides was a huge advocate of chicken soup as a cure for many things including the common cold. If they've been doing this since the 13th century then something must be right. I thought I'd give it a try.
Luckily, I had a frozen, bone-in, skin-on chicken breast in the freezer. I defrosted it, tossed it into a pan of water with an onion (halved and skin left on). I had no carrots and no celery so clearly flavor was going to be an issue. No garlic either. A moment of inspiration hit me and I went to the cupboard to find some dried herbs to make a bouquet garni. I found dried rosemary, dried thyme, and dried parsley. I put a spoonful of each into a square of cheesecloth and added a bay leaf and some white peppercorns. I tied it up into a nice bundle and threw it into the water with a good glug of white wine and a couple of tablespoons of brandy. Who needs carrots when you've got that?
I let the whole thing simmer for a very long time. The chicken was falling off the bone and the liquid had reduced enough to have some flavor. It needed lots of salt and pepper no matter what, but reducing it slightly helps a lot. When in doubt, keep boiling, at least when it comes to stock.
Once my stock was done, I strained it through a chinois, shredded the chicken off of the bone and chopped up the cook onion then added them back to the stock. I divided the stock into two parts. One part is in the fridge and I'll make noodle soup tomorrow. Tonight I made dumplings. Somehow my dumplings never quite turn out light and fluffy like my mother's and grandmother's, but I was happy anyway.
Now I'm waiting for that chicken soup remedy to cure me!