FAULTY HEARTS REMEDY

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You know… this blog really wasn’t, even indirectly, meant to be depressing at all.  Angry?  Yes.  It’s kinda funny.  Depressing?  Is just depressing.  But what now?

I found myself murmuring these thoughts through the indifference of the keyboard, while I watched my dog sunken within a pile of blanket like a flaccid lump of meat, the very life in him crippled by the exhaustion of every hard-earned heartbeat.  His heart murmurs, the doctor said.  Why does it sounds like an expression you can put on a Mother’s Day card for God’s sake…  And what about an overgrown, sensitive big heart?  Fuck, could’ve gotten someone laid on a Thursday night even without game.  To shit with these expressions…

In reality, you can actually die of a broken heart.

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I’m sure you wouldn’t mind me just shut up right about now, with these self-indulgent ranting as if nobody’s got shit to deal with.  In fact, from reading stories in your own words, I know you do.  Whoever and wherever you may be, with your face and elbow deep in mud right now in the tug of war against reality.  I know we have that in common.  And for that exact reason, this accidental recipe, probably the most consoling thing, physically or emotionally, that I have put into my body since… I’m gonna say ever, is the best thing I can offer as my token of empathy.

To say, life sucks too much to drink bad soup.

Or, if you can even call this that.  I wasn’t kidding when I said this recipe was accidental, as in a whole pot of chicken and soup that was meant to seduce my anorexic dog for taking a lick, was devastatingly left untouched as he now fights every single bite of food as if it’s poison.  Too aware of the red carpet-season maybe?  Life is giving me chicken soup… I guess I should say, thank you?

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Not as is, of course.  You may not think there’s much to be done to chicken and rice soup… I mean wasn’t it already the original remedy for fixing reality hardships, such as sneezing and evening rains?  And we know the originals like to be obeyed.  But as my current life isn’t exactly sneezing nor raining, but instead, pouring the runs of God from the sky, I need something stronger.  Something substantially better.  A chicken soup that is thick and velvety without the use of cream, a snuggly texture simply by blending the soup together with the soften rice.  The inherently flavourless shredded chicken can be turned into bits of saltiness and crunch by browning in its own fat with grated ginger, as how Jason put it, “Where did we get this ham from?”.

Last but not least of course, come on, nothing heals better than how a runny yolk breaks.

There are three broken hearts in the house, and two at least felt temporarily comforted by this soup.  Whatever you’re going through, arrivals or departures, lost or found, I’m sure you could use 10 min tucked inside this edible blanket.  Feel better.

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Servings: 4

The stock I used is homemade and unsalted.  If you are using store-bought, you may need to reduce the salt accordingly.  A fast and easy way to get enriched stocks, plus making the boiled chicken needed for this recipe, you can do this:

  • 1/2 of a medium-sized chicken
  • A few slices of ginger and scallion for poaching
  • 6 cups (1500 ml) of store-bought, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 4 slices of ginger

Bring a large pot of water, with a few slices of ginger and scallion, to boil.  Submerge the chicken in the boiling water and cook for 5 min, until there’s no more scums/blood coming out of it.  Rinse and clean the chicken thoroughly, and place in a stock pot (this will give the stock a “cleaner” taste).  Peel the onion and scorch the surface over direct flames (on stove-stop) until roughly charred.  Add the charred onion and sliced ginger into the stock pot with the chicken, and add 6 cups of chicken stock.  Keep the soup on simmer until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken and strain the stock (do not skim off the fat as you’ll need it later).  Keep the chicken submerged in the strained stock until needed.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1000 ml) of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup (270 grams) of leftover white rice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • Browned and crispy chicken bits:
    • 1/2 cup (75 grams) of finely shredded boiled chicken
    • 2 tbsp of chicken fat (gathered from the stock)
    • 1 tbsp of olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp of salt
    • 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
    • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 4 soft-poached eggs
  • More chicken fat to drizzle
  • More ground white pepper to finish

To make the rice-thickened chicken soup:  Sweat the onion with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and ground black pepper in a stock pot over medium heat, until translucent and soft, but not browned.  Add the chicken stock and rice, and simmer for 10 ~ 15 min until the rice is very soft.  Transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth.  Return the soup back to the pot and keep warm with the lid on.

To make the browned and crispy chicken bits:  Add the finely shredded chicken, chicken fat, olive oil, salt and ground white pepper in a skillet and cook over medium-high heat.  Some moisture mixed inside the chicken fat will be cooked off, and keep stirring occasionally until the chickens are crispy and browned on all edges.  Add the grated ginger and cook for a few seconds only, then turn off the heat completely.  Set aside until needed.

To serve:  If the soup appears to be too thick to your liking (it may thicken slightly over time), add a little bit more stock to thin it out slightly.  Serve the soup with a soft-poached egg, a good dose of browned and crispy chicken bits, plus a drizzle of chicken fat and a dab of ground white pepper.

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28 Comments

  • Reply January 15, 2014

    Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    My heart aches for you Mandy. I might not be their in person but I can feel the sadness though your words in this post. It is understandable that you may not want to angry or funny; in fact you can be a as reflective as you want if this is the kind of food that comes from your kitchen.

    This reminds me of a blended congee; I think I am going to have to top mine with fried dough and a century egg. Simply comforting and pure; but delicious!

    • Reply January 15, 2014

      Mandy L.

      Belinda, thank you. I like congee a lot (one of my favorite actually), but I have to say I love this soup even more. It’s super quick (as congee will take forever)and it feels extra comforting. Dried dough (I assume you-tiao?) and century egg (pi-dan) will complete this.

    • Reply January 19, 2014

      Katherine

      When I saw your site on the web I thought it would be a great place to get some great recipts. As I opened your email this morning my heart sank. Your choice of words struck my heart like a knife. I regret to say that I will have to unsubcribe to your site. In Christ, Katherine

  • Reply January 15, 2014

    Quyen

    Yum! This reminds me of the chicken rice porridge I had growing up in Vietnam. So simple and satisfying!

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    cynthia

    Beautiful post, Mandy. Thank you so much for sharing. We got some tough personal news as well last week, so I know first-hand how hard and sometimes pointless it can feel to be shooting food or even making it at times like those — so it makes this comforting recipe even more appreciated. Good luck to you.

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Sophie

    My heart is sad for your family! I’m glad you had this chicken-soup blanket for comfort, here’s to hoping you find comfort in many things. It sounds really delicious but not quite enough to take your mind off of things, I’m sure.

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Katrina @ WVS

    When I’m sad, a runny yolk is always a good idea!! And you’re totally not complaining. Sure everyone’s got shit to deal with, but this is your shit and your blog and you can do whatever you want with it!! Hope everything works out! Hugs!

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Lauren

    THIS IS AMAZING! Not many recipes for chicken soup have had such a WOW factor to them. I believe you’ve just created Chicken-Bacon with your Crispy Chicken Bits. This will definitely be an experiment for manyyy types of meat. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.inbetweenmimosas.blogspot.com

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Lynn Soon

    I don’t even know you, but I want to hug you and your pup. Don’t be afraid to be real. Real keeps our brains working, it keeps us aware of our livelihood. xoxo.

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Kari Jaquith

    Having lost my loyal terrier last March I completely understand the rage, anger, hopelessness and despair. Even though it has almost been a year I still find it hard to breath and tears come to my eyes when I think of the vets inability to do anything. Mystery illness I shake my fist and rage at the heavens.

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Vanessa

    My normal response to depression is “get up, quick cryin’!” but I’ll save that for later. Thank you for sharing this inventive recipe. I’m going to try it this weekend. Better days are coming…

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Brianne

    “Where did we get this ham from?” Hilarious. I love how a good laugh can really brighten a rough stretch. You write so beautifully, even in your sadness. I’m glad you have this soup to keep you comforted. Thinking of you and Dumpling!

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    cherie

    my sympathies

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    meg

    This is really lovely and this soup looks amazing. I am sorry about your pup. Hang in there!

  • Reply January 17, 2014

    Anna

    So sorry. Sometimes you feel like everyone else looks so happy, seems so lucky, without a care in the world and that’s not true. We all have our sadness and suffering. You aren’t alone – let the tears come.

  • Reply January 18, 2014

    Molly

    My heart hurts for you and your sweet dog. I have two of my own so I understand how they embody all that is love, loyalty, and family. You’re right, nothing heals quite like a runny egg yolk. Sending positive thoughts your way…

  • Reply January 18, 2014

    Kristi

    So sorry to hear about your dog. :( My cat just got diagnosed with lymphoma and I am going through the same thing with him right now – trying to encourage him to eat. It’s devastating to watch your sick pet and feel like there’s nothing you can do. Sending love. xo

    • Reply January 19, 2014

      Mandy L.

      Kristi, oh I’m so sorry to hear that. Lets all hang in there together…

  • Reply January 19, 2014

    Wendy

    So sorry to read about your dog. I know that Advil doesn’t work for heart ache, only time does, but it hurts and it sucks.
    Just a thought about feeding: I know this doesn’t sound like it would work…especially when your dog is passing up the option of this delicious soup….but at the end of his life, when my golden wouldn’t eat I tried everything I could think of. The one thing that worked was totally smooth baby food, the kind that comes in a little plastic tub and is completely pureed. He would lick it out of the container while I held it for him. I hope this works for you!
    I wish you peace.

    • Reply January 19, 2014

      Mandy L.

      Wendy, thank you so much for the suggestion! We will definitely look into it :). He’s recovering a little appetite now so we are hoping it will keep improving over time. Thanks!

  • Reply January 19, 2014

    jennifer

    My heart aches reading about your dog and I truly hope he will begin to eat and to recover. I can tell he is loved much. Blessings for him and for you in your heartache for him. The soup looks amazing I am trying it soon! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply January 19, 2014

    Judy

    I’ve only just come across your blog but I’d like to commiserate with you about your dog. I know what it’s like to have a very ill animal and how it breaks your heart. Just love him and try to tempt him. There’s really nothing else you can do.

  • Reply January 19, 2014

    Sharon

    The soup looks wonderful, but I signed up because of your palatable love of your dog. I have recently been through this and know how very tough it is. As a matter of fact, way too many times, and yet I keep putting my heart out there. My thoughts sand prayers are with you. I look forward to reading good news soon.

    • Reply January 22, 2014

      Judy

      I’m a cat person but I love dogs as well.

  • Reply January 20, 2014

    Chris

    Oh, I am SO going to make this. I always have homemade chicken stock in the freezer. Beyond that, I fully intend to cheat by buying half a cooked chicken from the supermarket, crisping it up in duck fat (mmmm, duck fat…) and calling into service one of the lazy-girl sachets of cooked white rice that all too often form the base for my sons horrifying after-school ‘invention’ snacks. I’m not even sure how I ended up at this site, or this recipe but given that I, too, am an oft-angry, inappropriately profane, dog-loving, foodie…human….it seemed rather appropriate. I must say, you write beautifully and your recipes look wonderful. A pat on the back, too, for appearing to understand that Americans are the only breed on the planet to see any common sense in cups, sticks and spoons of butter! Blessings to your pooch, and remember; being deeply loved gives you strength, and loving deeply gives you courage.

  • Reply January 22, 2014

    Chris

    Made it. Loved it. Cheating with store-bought cooked chicken, precooked rice and duck fat worked perfectly. I would never compromise on the quality of the stock though. It’s summer here in Brisbane (how I hate it) and that means 100 degrees by 7am every day, and humid enough to poach an egg without using a saucepan. Not most peoples idea of creamy soup weather. Even so, I topped mine with finely chopped spring onion and toasted sesame oil and, with the AC struggling to keep up, I gobbled it down as if I hadn’t eaten in a month, moaning with culinary ecstasy even as I tried to avoid adding sweat droplets to the seasoning in my bowl. On a cold night, this will be my new comfort food par excellence.

    • Reply January 22, 2014

      Mandy L.

      Chris, good job!!!! Wow, this is a little heavy for 100 degrees… Our apartment wasn’t exactly hot but we were sorta feeling all golden-brown and toasty eating this the other day. You’re right, the quality of the soup cannot be compromised because it’s the DRIVER of flavour in this dish!

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