There’s something genuinely restorative about chicken soup when you’re sick. It’s not called “Jewish penicillin” for nothing. I made this soup both for the sick one at home but also to urge the sick one afar to make it for himself.
I had already made a robust chicken stock from the bones and clinging meat from a roasted chicken. It had been a particularly flavorful, local and organically raised bird, seasoned with thyme and roasted with two lemons in its cavity (a really good trick for crispy skin and tender meat). In fact, it was so tender that the scraps of meat scarcely needed to be cut for the soup. To make the stock, I cut the carcass into small pieces and covered it in cold water in a deep pot. After it came to a simmer on top of the stove, I added carrot, onion, celery and parsley stems, all of which were peelings and scraps from other ventures. (This is one of the ultimate waste-not-want-not kitchen tasks.) After simmering the stock gently (do not let it boil) for an hour or more, I let it cool and strained off the liquid into a bowl. After the liquid is completely cool, I refrigerated it overnight so that I could skim off the coagulated fat that rises to the surface. Normally, I use some stock right away and freeze the rest, but we needed the home remedy.
To make the soup, I simmered chopped onions, leeks, celery and celeriac in olive oil, added stock and brought the mixture just to a boil. I added a scant handful of wild rice because I thought its nuttiness would complement the roasted chicken stock. The soup simmered for about 45 minutes, covered, enough time to cook the rice. If I’d used regular rice, it would have cooked in about 20.When the rice is tender, add the chicken meat and cook gently just to heat. Taste for salt and garnish with snipped celery leaves. Good luck if you don’t feel better after eating this for a day or two.
Roasted Chicken and Celery Soup with Wild Rice
½ medium onion, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ medium leeks, white and pale green part only, sliced vertically to lean and then horizontally
¾ c sliced celery, leaves reserved
Optional: ¼- ½ c diced celeriac
4 c chicken stock, preferably from a roasted chicken
Small handful wild rice
½ – ¾ c diced chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped celery leaves
Place the onion, leeks, celery, celeriac and a splash of olive oil in a deep pot and cook gently over medium-low heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and turn up the heat, bringing the liquid just to a boil. Add the wild rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Season to taste and add the diced chicken, cooking until the chicken is heated through. Serve hot garnished with snipped celery leaves.