Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I’m not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she’s just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it’s snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn’t been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She’s been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn’t do it, put on a red dress.
- Ginger Andrews, The Cure
I am back to work after an exquisite week of quiet freedom and it's hard not to feel the mulleygrubs lurking at the edges of my days. Each afternoon, I've come home a stressed, snappy mess and Nate, the patient, wonderful man he is, gently sends me off with the dog to walk the sunset fields at Shaw Farm. Forty minutes later, I'll return, soothed and revived. Nate knows that my mulleygrubs are cured outside, in quiet movement.
How does Nate shake his own blues? He spends hours in the kitchen, cooking homey, rustic recipes. He's able to find a balance of calm and energy there, slowly turning stress and frustration into deep, wintry, warm meals. This chicken soup is one of Nate's surefire cures and we hope it brings you joy and the lift you need to leave your mulleygrubs behind.
One of the most important lessons I've learned from watching Nate in the kitchen is to be brave. There are so many parts of cooking that always seemed way too scary to consider doing on my own. Cooking meat as a former vegetarian? Terrifying. Making croissants? Um, I think I'll leave that to the professionals. But Nate? He just does it without a second thought and his easy sureness helps me believe that I can do it, too.
While I'm still working on truly embodying that confidence, I promise you that the somewhat frightening, long-winded recipes are usually worth it (and often way easier than you think). In that vein, please don't be put off by the time commitment of the recipe below. This soup can easily be made over a few evenings or done all in one cozy home day when you have nowhere to be. Deboning a chicken? Making your own broth? No problem.
NATE’S CHICKEN SOUP
For the roast chicken:
1 whole chicken, about 5 lbs.
For the stock:
Chicken bones and giblets from the roasted bird
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 Tbls. whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 Tbls. dried thyme
For the soup:
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups fingerling potatoes, roughly chopped
Meat from the roasted chicken, chopped
1 Tbls. salt
1 Tbls. garlic powder
1 cup wild rice
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse off the chicken under cool water and pat dry. Place the chicken in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with a few big pinches of salt and grinds of pepper. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 25 minutes (start checking for doneness after about 1 hour and 15 minutes) and then remove the pan to a rack and let the meat cool completely.
Once cool, debone the chicken (aka cut all of the meat away from the bones). Place the meat in a large bowl off to the side and put the bones and giblets into a large soup pot. Discard the gristle and fat as you go. Add the carrots, onion, peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme to the soup pot, and fill about ¾ of the way full with water (you should leave about 2 inches at the top of a 16 qt. soup pot). Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. When the stock starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and let simmer until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Be patient! This will take about 3 hours.
When the stock is dark and fragrant and fully reduced, strain the broth into a clean pot. Discard the bones, giblets, and stock veggies. If the stock seems too oily, strain again, this time through a clean tea towel or cheesecloth over a fine mesh sieve.
In the same pot you used to cook your stock, warm a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots, potatoes, chicken, salt, and garlic powder. Add your stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature and simmer for 10 minutes, before stirring in the wild rice. Let simmer 30 minutes longer until the rice is fully cooked, adjust your seasonings, and enjoy with a green salad and some fresh bread.
Photos for this post were taken by my talented husband, Nate.