We survived two weeks of detoxing, or as some folks like to say, cleansing.  It was tough this year.  I am not going to lie, I wanted to gnaw my arm off on more than one occasion.  Lenny was certainly better at it then I was.  If you call eating larger portions being better at it.  *smirk*.  I was craving everything that I am not going to say is bad for me because, in moderation, chocolate is damn good for me!  And so is red wine!  One recipe that got me through it all was this one for Cleansing Ginger Chicken Soup.

We fell off of the wagon, twice, and hard.  Like I said, I am not going to lie.  The weekends were not good for us.  The first weekend we went out for a movie, to a theatre that serves pitchers of beer!  When was the last time you had a pitcher of beer?  Exactly!  Last weekend we went flying with a friend, to intentionally go to a diner that serves monster shakes, killer burgers with pastrami on them, and fried Twinkies and Oreos.  So, there you have it, two imperfect detoxers!  Despite our little slip-ups, we still feel pretty good and are hoping we are on the path to lighter eating in 2013.

One recipe that saved our lives my life was this incredible cleansing ginger-chicken soup.  Let’s rewind a bit for a moment before I tell you about this soup.  I received a remarkable gift from my sweet friend Maggie, a signed copy of Canal House Cooks every day.  Simply put the book is gorgeous.  I have a couple of their books, and one thing (besides the consistent recipes) that I love is the quality of the paper that they use.  You can tell a lot about a person by the packaging, and the quality of paper expresses the love they have for their craft.  I love how the book feels;  from the crisp linen cover to the perfect weight, with just enough recipes in each chapter to keep me wanting more.  Another thing that I love is the baby blue ribbon that is attached to the cookbook, making for an ideal bookmark.  Why don’t more cookbooks have this feature?  It is like receiving a blue box from Tiffany’s, a little something to make it even more memorable.

If you are not familiar with Canal House cookbooks, they are known for the pure meals using fresh ingredients.  Think farm to table.  I tend to cook seasonally, and this book is perfect as it is broken down into months and features everything from beverages to desserts.  The cookbook is not just about recipes and pretty photos;  there is also a story at the beginning of each chapter.  A story that gently grabs you by the hand leads you to the long table in their Canal House kitchen and warms your heart not only with comforting food but tantalizing conversation.  I am positive this book is about to become our favorite go-to recipe resource.  And you should unquestionably think about making it one of yours.

Let’s talk about the soup.  During my detox breakdown, I was torturing myself by reading this lovely book, page by page.  With every flip of a page, there was an “ahhh” that rolled off my lips.  I was delighted when I came to January and read a recipe for Cleansing Ginger-Chicken Soup.  My body was craving protein in some matter, and I had a feeling this would be exactly what I needed for a boost.  The recipe is loaded with ginger which is known for its health benefits.  Next time you have a tummy ache, sip a ginger ale, and it will be calmed.   The base of the soup is made with a whole organic chicken that is simmered in a golden broth.  The breasts of the chicken are removed after gently poaching for 30 minutes, which makes for silky bites of meat to add back to your bowl.  The only thing I changed with this recipe, and it actually was more of an addition, was adding slices of serrano chili.  It was amazing this warm bowl of broth as it instantly made me feel better.  I had clarity.  I felt alive and nourished.  I will be falling back on this recipe often, especially during times when we are ill as it made everything a little bit better.

Thank you to both Melissa and Christopher for your kind email, and for permission to print this lovely recipe.  You both are truly an inspiration to the food world.  Keep cooking … for you and for all of us.

Cleansing Ginger Chicken Soup

**  this recipe is printed with permission from Canal House


1 onion, sliced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 big handful of fresh ginger (about 8 ounces), unpeeled and sliced into big pieces

1 clove garlic

10 black peppercorns

1 organic chicken, cut into 7 pieces (2 breaks, 2 thighs and legs, 2 wings, and the back)


handful fresh cilantro

Serrano chili – optional

How To:

Put the onions, celery, ginger, garlic, and peppercorns in a heavy large pot, then add the chicken pieces, placing the breasts on top so they will be easier to remove from the hot broth halfway through the cooking,   Cover with 4 quarts cold water and bring to just a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low.  Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.  After about 30 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and set them aside to cool.  Continue to gently simmer the soup for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove all the chicken from the broth and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle.  Pull off and discard the skin, bones, and gristle.  Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl then return the broth to the pot.

Boil the broth over high heat until it has reduced to about 8 cups.  Season with salt to taste.  Put a handful of chicken in each of the 6 individual bowls then ladle in the hot broth.  Serve garnished with cilantro and/or serranos.




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