Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Chicken Soup with a secret ingredient

Unrefined sugar is a secret ingredient in most of my winter dishes. I hesitate to reveal one of my greatest cooking secrets, but there you have it. Like the pearl of wisdom once offered me, it will be discarded by the undeserving, and rightly so.

An old but popular Asian recipe for "chicken soup" - or general food tonic - consists of chicken (well, you don't want to really know what bird they used instead of chicken), 1 Tb ginger, 1 Tb ginseng, 1/2 Cup astragalus root, 1 cup thinly sliced Chinese yams and my spin on it was to add 2 cones of jaggery. These are the usual category of suspects in most any food tonic recipe I've come across in my travels. Except for the unrefined sugar with molasses.

Use 6-8 cups of water. I use a breast and a leg of chicken minus the skin and fat. Bring to a boil, skim the scum off the top. Boil down for a couple of hours until you have about two cups of soup plus the meat.

Meat is important to human health. If you are a vegetarian, you will already know what to substitute to mimic the health properties of meat. I don't but I'm not a vegetarian - except at times I judiciously cycle off animal proteins. Once I tried to stay off animal proteins for about three months, yes, I knew what I was doing. I started getting puffy and pasty looking, eventually got so ill that my world-class naturopath who was advising me through this, and two authentic Asian doctors ordered me to start eating meat again. I have since been so bullied by so many militant vegans with cherry-picked misinformation on this topic I often wonder if Hitler was a vegetarian. Hmmm, not so my dear naturopath, but then he was a practicing vegetarian, not a practicing facist.

Interestingly, the Chinese yam was introduced to North America in the 1800's, astragalus root grows aplenty here, so does ginseng and ginger.

This is about it for my soup recipes for now, it's just that after the holidays we naturally gravitate to cleaning up the body works. I'm all for balance, and part of balance is indulging a bit, really understanding how lucky we are to live in a place where even the choices are in abundance. Which makes the show I watched, gasping in horror, as they destroyed good food for entertainment value, an invitation to the laws of karma to mark this land for endless hunger.


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