Simplest of chicken soups
"With the first sip I knew that I had never really eaten before. The initial taste was pure carrot, followed by cream, butter, a bit of nutmeg. I then swallowed and my whole mouth and throat filled with the echo of a rich chicken stock."
This is one of my favourite pieces of food writing; one of my favourite pieces of writing altogether. It is from Tender At The Bone: Growing Up At The Table by Ruth Reichl, now editor of Gourmet.
Ruth taught me about the intrinsical linking of food with memoir, of hands with history. Her words made me conscious of the presence of stock, even in a soup where it is not the main star. When I make chicken laksa, I'm well aware that I can "get away" with a tetra pack stock, since the overwhelming flavour is of coconut milk and strong laksa paste. But add a golden, rich, home made chicken stock, and that mouthful ends with the silk of chicken. Truly.
I've had a minor stomach virus recently and, when I was able to face food, craved a simple stock. The very simplest - no carrot, onion or leek, as I would usually add. T'was just one chicken (Lilydale, best of the supermarket brands), enough water to cover it, and half a head of celery, diced. That's all. Lemon salt to finish, but just a simple soup for a weary tummy.