Lately, weird weather and swinging temperatures have delivered a final dose of coughs and sniffles throughout our community—winter’s last jab before spring sets in. A casual chat with a pediatrician friend earlier this week confirmed that there’s a round of flu and other viruses afoot. You, uh … got that vaccine in the fall, right?
If you did, or if you didn’t, this is a great week to arm yourself with a homemade batch of chicken soup, long associated with healing and wellness. In a perfect world, we’d all have time to make our own stock and roast our own birds, but if you’re in a pinch, you can prepare a perfectly serviceable version with store-bought stock and rotisserie chicken. Even with these shortcuts, your soup will be delectable thanks to the addition of tender sweet potatoes, leeks and fresh ginger. Local sweet potatoes are a great substitute for carrots, and leeks are just about perfect in any soup. Ginger adds bite and earthy punch; plus, it’s good for you.
Finish each bowl with chopped herbs and a squirt of lemon juice. This clean soup will revive your mood and please your palate.
Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Ginger
¼ cup olive oil
2 leeks, white parts trimmed, sliced once down the middle, then thinly sliced across
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 32-ounce containers chicken stock, or 8-10 cups homemade stock
4 cups cooked cubed or shredded chicken
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Chopped herbs, such as parsley, dill, or chives
In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the oil to medium high. Add the leeks and celery and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add the next four ingredients and sauté 5-7 minutes more, or until the sweet potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Add the stock, chicken and bay leaves and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Taste for seasoning. Serve. Top each bowl with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
Hot tip: If you have time, a great way to cheat on broth is to combine in a separate pot the two 32-ounce containers of store-bought stock with 1 fresh bone-in skin-on split breast, along with fresh herbs, bits of onion, carrots, garlic or the remaining trimmings of leeks, celery and ginger. Bring to a boil and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. The resulting broth is much richer, and comes together much faster than if you’d used a fresh whole chicken.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.