Comfort Foods

Chicken Soup

It’s officially Mid-January. The warm glow of the New Year has worn off, you’ve already forgotten your resolutions and things are piling up at work. And chances are: you are sick, getting sick or just getting over being sick. New York City is at def con level 5 threat alert for the flu. I had some 24 hours stomach bug last week that took me completely out of commission. Without going into too much detail, I couldn’t even keep water down and afterwards I was too weak to do anything except refill my water cup. Luckily, it’s 2013 and warm, chicken soup is never more than a phone call and a twenty dollar bill away. When I finally felt like eating again, all I wanted was something simple and filing with no harsh flavors; I wanted rice and beans.

Comfort food comes in many forms. But usually it’s warm and gooey. These two recipes are healthy, easy and exactly what you need to get you through this flu season. Chicken soup works better than any over the counter anything- this is proven scientific fact. This one is paired down and uses chicken parts instead of a whole chicken so you don’t have to learn how to quarter a chicken while running a slight fever.

Similarly, this rice and beans recipe requires no soaking whatsoever. Canned black beans are still delicious and can be brought to life with spices you already own.

Basic Chicken Soup

Makes 6 servings

You will need:

About 3 pounds of bone-in chicken parts: 2 whole breasts, 4 drumsticks, 2 thighs

1-2 Tablespoons salt

4 garlic cloves

2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped

3 celery stalks, roughly chopped into 2 inch pieces

4 medium carrots, whole

7 cups water

Method:

1. Place the chicken, water and 1 Tablespoon salt in a large stock pot. The water should comfortably cover the tightly-packed chicken by 1-inch. Bring to boil. You should start to see white foam rising to the top. Using a slotted spoon, skim this foam off and set aside. Do this for about 3 minutes.

2. Add onions, garlic and celery pieces to the stock and bring down to a gentle summer. Place a lid slightly askew on the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim more white foam off if it is present. Take out the two breasts to save for chicken salad tomorrow. Add the carrots and simmer for another 45 minutes.

3. Take out all of the chicken parts. Discard the bones and set the meat aside. Skim any fat that is floating on top and divide into bowls with some carrots, onion and celery. Add in either shredded white meat from the breasts or dark meat from the thighs and drumsticks back in.

Smoky Black Beans with Lime Rice

Serves 2

You will need:

1 cup plain cheap white rice

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt + more to taste

1 Tablespoon lime juice

1 14 oz can black beans

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small shallot or 1/2 small onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have on hand)

a dash of all of the following: paprika, italian seasoning (or oregano), salt, pepper

Method:

1. Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt and boil for 1 minute. Bring down to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes then remove from heat to sit. After 5 minutes, add the butter and lime using a wooden spoon- and a pinch of salt. Allow the flavored rice to sit, covered while you prepare the rest of the meal.

2. Meanwhile, in a small deep skillet heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and shallot. Cook until just turning brown – about 3 minutes. Add the beans and their juices. Stir in the vinegar, paprika, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt or paprika as needed.

3. Scoop a large helping of rice into a shallow bowl and top with beans. Serve with salsa verde smothered on top.

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