Save a life with five-headed chicken soup | Bleader

Save a life with five-headed chicken soup


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5-headed chicken soup

The grippe recently swept through my household, leaving me without strength, courage, or voice. Friend of the Food Chain Kristina Meyer must have tired of my wheezy, desperate whispers between bouts of bronchial death rattle, so she set about the heroic task of making me a very special soup. "This isn't food," she told me. "It's medicine. It won't necessarily taste great." Incorporating five heads of garlic (hence the name), a whole hand of ginger, and more than 15 fingers of fresh turmeric, plus chicken, beef bone marrow, a half-dozen different varieties of chile, a eucalyptus teabag, frozen tofu, skin-on limes, and much more, it was medicine I feared might make my hair fall out.

"I dunno—just sort of gathered folk wisdom?" she told me, when I asked how she came up with it. "What I make for myself when I'm sick? Ginger, chile, garlic I sort of consider common cures for colds and lung issues. Turmeric for it's well known anti-inflammatory properties, maitake mushroom as an immune booster. And a good bone marrow broth is considered a superfood at this point."

I needn't have worried: when it hit the stove the soup, which approximates the color and viscosity of a peat bog, perfumed the whole kitchen with a citrus-infused cloud that penetrated my swampy lungs and simultaneously called up Indian, Thai, and Mexican food. It tasted great too—sour and head-scalpingly hot—and bobbed with spongy chunks of tofu and soft daikon radish that soaked up all the flavor.

If you're sick enough, you'll want to take the effort to make this soup. Or ask your nurse to do it. But be careful: due to the high garlic levels, after you ingest it your enemies will smell you coming before they see you. Recipe after the jump.

Kristina Meyer's Five-Headed Chicken Soup

1 chicken or four backs & four leg/thigh quarters
1 beef marrow bone cut crosswise into two-inch pieces
2 quarts of homemade chicken stock, or good-quality low-sodium commercial stock, or water, or a combo
2 large yellow onions
5 heads of garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch of dill
2 bunches of scallions
5 serrano or jalapeño chiles
1 habanero chile
2 dozen green Thai bird chiles
1 small hand of ginger
15-20 fingers of fresh turmeric (which is a lot more common than it used to be—even Whole Foods is carrying it on a regular basis)
1 carrot
2 limes (skin and all)
2 T fish sauce
10 black peppercorns
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 black cardamom pod
5 allspice berries, whole
1 cinnamon stick
assortment of dried chiles (I used 2 ancho, 2 guajillo, and 15 chile de arbol)
2-3 ounces of dried maitake (hen of the woods) mushroom
1 herbal tea bag (eucalyptus based)
2 T tamarind paste
2 T honey
1 large daikon radish, peeled and cut into half-inch dice
1 container of tofu (frozen and then thawed)* and cut into one-inch cubes
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place chicken in large pot and cover with chicken stock and/or water (liquid should just cover chicken by about an inch). Add a few pinches of salt to pot and bring slowly up to a boil, skimming as you go.

Meanwhile, when oven is up to temp, place marrow bones, and a whole head of garlic in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed vessel and roast in oven until brown—about 35 minutes.

While chicken is coming to a boil, juice the following in a heavy-duty juicer (if you don't have a juicer, use a food processor or blender to pulverize ingredients into a paste, and if you don’t have any equipment, dig in with a good sharp knife and chop each ingredient into fine dice):

2 large yellow onions
2 heads of garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch of scallions
3 serrano or jalapeño
1 habanero chile
1 dozen green Thai bird chiles
1 small hand of ginger
15-20 fingers of fresh turmeric
1 carrot
2 limes (skin, and all)

Once chicken has come to a boil and the broth has been skimmed, add in the roasted marrow bones, roasted garlic head and any rendered fat to stock pot and the bright orange turmeric/garlic water (or puree) along with the:

10 black peppercorns
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 black cardamom pod
5 allspice berries, whole
4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove
2-3 ounces of dried maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms
1 herbal tea bag (eucalyptus based)

In a dry skillet toast the dried chiles and coriander seeds until fragrant, then throw them into the stock pot. Simmer on low (do not skim the fat) for about three hours.

After three hours, remove pot from heat, remove all solids and strain liquid through a sieve to remove any particulate. Make sure to scoop out any marrow clinging to the insides of the bones and put back into the broth. Ideally, this broth should then be stored overnight in a refrigerator so the fat rises and hardens for easy removal (but not disposal!)

The next day, remove most of the hardened fat and reserve. ** Leave some fat in the broth, which should be gelatinized. Bring broth up to a boil and add the tamarind paste, the juice of 3 limes, 2T honey, and salt or fish sauce to taste. Also add diced daikon radish and cubed tofu now. Let boil and reduce for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the final flavoring agent: In a food processor, puree two heads of garlic (about 20 cloves), 2 serranos, 10 green Thai bird chiles, 1 bunch of dill, 1 bunch of scallions. Add puree to the boiling broth, and continue boiling for another ten minutes. Adjust salt and add copious amounts of ground black pepper and a little more fresh lime juice if necessary.

Serve to those who do or do not have a upper respiratory infection. Witness the healing power of soup.

* Put your container of tofu in the freezer at least the night before you want to serve this soup. Take it out of the freezer and let it thaw the morning of. Freezing and thawing the tofu makes little spongy holes throughout the tofu, which soak up the spicy broth of this soup.

** Use the rendered fat to fry eggs in, or even better, make one of the many rice dishes from around the world that start with frying raw rice in a spiced fat (like biryani, pulao, paella).

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