Here in the central Piedmont area of North Carolina outside of Charlotte, between the mountains to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the ground is still saturated from the devastating deluges of hurricanes Florence and Michael. As such, if there is a silver lining from such disasters, our autumn has been extended.
By this time in late November, our trees have already shaken off their mostly-colorless dry and itchy leaves. Instead, those same trees still harbor and cling to washed-out hopes of green! The pleasant, pink-repeat azaleas have lasted weeks longer than those which initially blossomed in the spring and which are usually wizened and wiped out in one 90-degree May afternoon. Their Crayola-color of "carnation pink"makes me happy.
Surprisingly (and wonderfully unexpectedly), trees are radiant with autumnal color. This is rare in the South. The combination of moisture, sun, and cold nights is the perfect sugar recipe for vibrant, electrifying hues and sparks of orange, red and yellow.
It has been a long time for this old Northerner's eyes to be amazed, to remember and to appreciate such dreams of color!
I have planted the Southern ritual of pansies. Half a dozen pots filled with joyful colors to help me survive the expectant months of sunless days.
|I travel miles and shop for weeks to find the most unique pansies.|
The nights here are unusually cold for this time of year. Shiver! This morning, my birdbath was frozen over. I want soup! Hot soup ladled into hand-thrown ceramic bowls. Artisan bread.
Enter this recipe. It was too easy. Too delicious. It is one I will make again and again.
- For the broth:
- 2 pounds chicken cut up, skin on, bone in, preferably, thighs, legs, wings (actually, I used a Cornish Hen cut up into pieces)
- 4 cups water
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
- 1 medium garlic clove, smashed
- For the soup:
- 1, 14.5 oz. can chicken broth
- 3/4 cup sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup diced onion ( a bit less than 1/2 cup)
- 1.5 teaspoon Kosher salt or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon pressed or finely diced garlic
- 6 tablespoons pearled barley
- 2-3 tablespoons raw, long-grained rice
In a large stockpot, prepare the broth. Breasts have little flavor for broth. Bring just to a boil then lower to simmer for about one hour. If you boil your broth it will turn cloudy. Remove meat to cool. Strain the broth and then return to the pot.
|The more bone and cartilage you have, the more flavorful your broth.|
Add the soup ingredients. Taste for salt. Bring just to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables and grains are tender. Taste for salt before serving. Ladle into bowls and, if desired, sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan or fresh dill.