It’s October in Seattle, which means one thing: Wet. We’ve had wind and rain almost all month, and this week, hail (at my house, anyway). On Friday, I had to run home from Herkimer with a newspaper over my head to prevent the little ice balls from actually bruising my skull. It wasn’t an ephemeral, “Hey, that’s the white stuff” sort of precip, but a brief, furious pounding that left Phinney Ridge blanketed with white.
My neighbor had planned to come over for lunch, and as I rounded the corner toward my house, I realized my baby garden’s growing season is officially over.
Maybe the kale will recover, but now, so tiny, it looks helpless.
I gathered the cherry tomatoes that had been blown off their vines, and went inside. I gravitated toward my soup pot, but by the time I was warm and dry, I couldn’t bring myself to step out onto the porch for fresh herbs.
As I started a soup with yet another discovery from Trader Joe’s, a pre-cut mirepoix (which seemed a little light on the onion, but who am I to complain?), I felt my kitchen sensibility flop into winter. I dug out garlic and olives, smoky Spanish paprika and sweet dried oregano, and stood still at the stove, stirring, just to feel the heat from the pot radiate into my body. Starting with a pre-cut mirepoix, I felt almost instantly gratified – it gave me the heat, the healing of chicken soup, but with a little more style. Metrosexual chicken soup.
Save it for a haily day, when you need the warmth. (Here are two others that would do the job well on a cold, blustery day.) I’d planned to add plump white beans, too, but found they were processed on a machine that also touched wheat, and I was still gluten-free . . .so I refrained. But by all means, add them, along with fresh herbs, chopped zucchini, small pasta or rice, and whatever else your kitchen offers up. You can also substitute spicy chicken sausage or two large chicken breasts for the thighs I used.
Quicker Chicken, Olive, and Lemon Soup (PDF)
Recipe 294 of 365
When smoky Spanish paprika, chopped olives, puckery lemon, and sweet oregano get together, the result is a chicken soup that does the job with Mediterranean attitude. If you don’t have access to a pre-cut mirepoix blend, substitute 1 cup each finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot.
TIME: 30 minutes, start to finish
MAKES: 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) container prepared mirepoix blend
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon good Spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock (homemade, if possible)
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup assorted high-quality olives (or whatever kind you prefer), pitted and chopped
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add half the oil, and tilt the pan to coat. Season the chicken pieces on all sides with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning after about 4 minutes, when the chicken releases easily from the pan. When the chicken pieces have all been seared on two sides (it will get cooked more later), transfer them to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pot. Add the mirepoix, garlic, paprika, and oregano, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, lemon zest and juice, and olives, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.