Soup-cooking weather is drawing to a close here in Northwest America, but it is still prevalent in other parts of the world that are reached by my writings. Here is a quick, delicious receipt, which includes broccoli or asparagus (see my last entry to access this spring vegetable, sautéed with leftover, browned milk solids from ghee).
Much romance surrounds chicken soup; this is often one of our favorites from “mom’s best”-which gently nudged us out of our sick beds. My earliest recollection of this soup, however, was that of the Campbell’s variety during the 1950’s.
My recipe boasts of lots of garlic, which comes with an interesting history all its own. According to Sarah Lohman in Eight Flavors, it wasn’t the heavy Italian immigration at the turn of the 20th century that gave our country its love for this plant; rather, its colorful history dates further back to the international influence of the French chef Marie Antoine Careme. He started his impressive career as a kitchen boy, at the age of eight, shortly after being abandoned by his parents, during the early political upheavals of the French Revolution, in 1792. 1
This man changed Western cuisine. He replaced the then heavy use of imported spices, employed in the food preparation of the upper class since medieval times, with an introduction of fresh herbs and flavorful plants-such as onions and garlic-which had hitherto solely been found in the poor man’s diet; only local herbs and garlic, however, were used by the lower class, where Carame went afar to gather various ingredients for his extravagant repasts. Strong emphasis on onions, thyme, bay, basil, and garlic can be seen in Careme’s recipes. His feasts-elaborate by our means-held a novel focus on freshness, flavor, and simplicity (compared to that of his predecessors). He is remembered, along with La Varenne, as the founder of haute cuisine. 2
Careme has greatly influenced Western cooking; nevertheless, his impact on our country, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was only brief. Here our newly acquired taste for garlic can be seen in Mary Randolph’s Beef-a-la-Mode, found in The Virginia Housewife (1824), which called for two heads of it for a single pot roast. 3 Prior to that, garlic was eschewed on this continent, as represented in Amelia Simmon’s American Cookery, 1796, for she wrote: “Garliks, tho’ ufed by the French, are better adapted to the ufes of medicine than cookery”. 4 Just a generation after Randolph’s garlicky 1824 receipt, the use of this allium became minimal once again, as seen in numerous American cook books of that period. 5
At the turn of the 20th century, massive Italian immigration came to our soil, with Italian Americans representing 10 percent of the US population by 1920. Neither their culture or food ways were easily assimilated back then; thus, their heavy use of garlic was disdained by main line America, due in part to our earlier aversion to it. 6
Lohman attributes the beginning of the reversal, of our revulsion to this plant, to the heavy influx of American artists living around Paris, following the World War I; nearly thirty million of these sojourners were there during the 1920’s and 30’s, including M.F.K. Fisher and Earnest Hemingway; this artistic population initiated the idolization of garlic in print, because of their exposure to the popular garlic-laden cooking of Provence, where fresh and simple techniques were the direct result of Careme’ influence a hundred years prior. 7
In 1945, the future American legend James Beard-renown cook, television personality, and author-was stationed in Provence; here his culinary techniques were formed and, with them, his passion for garlic. Thus by his works, this flavorful plant was pushed even further forward in its comeback in the USA. Note: when Beard was serving in France, we were consuming 4.5 million pounds of it a year; this brought on by the artists. By 1956, 36 million pounds were being consumed annually, due in large part to Beard picking up the torch lit by Careme. (Presently the average American consumes about 2 pounds of garlic in a twelve month period.) 8
Several decades hence in 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkley, where she brought even more life to what Careme and Beard had started, with her founding of the farm-to-table movement; here she emphasizes locally produced ingredients in her famous French/Italian cuisine, prepared with the simple, fresh, garlic-laden Provencal cooking techniques. 9
Today, unlike the turn of the 20th century, there is a mainstream acceptance of Italian American food with all its original heavy use of this plant; this phenomenon can be clearly seen in some of America’s highest-grossing food chains: the Olive Garden and Domino’s Pizza. There is even a rise in garlic-themed festivals throughout our country, which tend to promote Italian American inspired classics, such as fettuccine Alfredo (a purely American dish unknown in Italy.) Nevertheless, our country’s love for garlic doesn’t come from Italy, but rather from the revival of French cuisine and the origins of the farm-to-table movement, established on the innovations of Careme. 10
This pungent allium strongly impacts my soup; enjoy its many dimensions.
- Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p. 155.
- Ibid., pp. 149-179; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haute_cuisine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Antoine_Car%C3%AAme
- Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp.159.
- Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796, (reprinted, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), p. 22.
- Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp. 159-160.
- Ibid., pp. 160-163.
- Ibid., pp.163-164.
- Ibid., pp. 153, 166.
- Ibid., pp. 166-169.
- Ibid., pp. 150,170, 171.
Quick Chicken Soup Yields: 2 1/2 quarts. Total prep time: 1 1/3 hr/ active prep time: 40 min/ cooking time: 40 min.
1 lb chicken tenderloins (May substitute breasts or thighs.)
1 tbsp oil (Avocado or coconut oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)
1 lg onion, chopped
3 lg carrots, cut in small cubes
1 head of cauliflower, divided into florettes
1 1b asparagus, cut in bite-size pieces (May use frozen broccoli instead.)
1-liter plus 15-oz can of chicken broth (Bone broth is ideal; see Tortellini Soup, 2016/10/10, for easy instructions.)
6 extra lg cloves garlic, minced (May use 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence (Trader’s has a great buy on these.)
1 c rice (May substitute quinoa, which is diabetic friendly.)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
2 tsp salt, or to taste (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive Himalayan salt is available in bulk at our local Winco.)
2 tsp Better Than Bouillon (chicken flavor), or to taste
Place chicken in a medium saucepan, cover barely with warm water to begin thawing process; if using frozen broccoli, set out to thaw.
- Heat oil in a saute pan, add chopped onions, and sweat-cook until translucent-as shown in photo. Stir occasionally. Set aside.
- Spray vegetables with a safe, effective, inexpensive vegetable spray (combine 97 % distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit for 3 minutes; rinse thoroughly.
- Bring chicken to a boil over medium heat, cook for 10 minutes, or until pink is nearly gone. Remove tenderloins from cooking water, set both chicken and liquid aside to cool.
- Place 1 1/2-liters broth and 1 1/2 cups of water in a stock pot; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Chop carrots in small cubes; cut asparagus in bite-size pieces, by first removing tough ends. Divide cauliflower into small florettes, by cutting small sections away from head; pare excess stem off these portions; then divide each of these sections into small florettes with the tip of a knife (see photo).
- Place vegetables and cooked onions in broth.
- Add to stock pot: garlic, Herbes de Provence, rice, pepper, and salt (only 2 tsp presently, as the Better Than Bouillon in step 8 will also add saltiness). Cover and bring to a second boil over med/high heat; then, uncover, lower heat, and simmer for 35 minutes, or until rice is soft.
- When rice is finished cooking, cut chicken into bite-size pieces; add both poultry and its cooking liquid to soup. Mix in Better Then Bouillon, and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Serve this light, healthy soup with pride; may freeze leftovers for unexpected company, or for a sick day.