I lived so many years on own that I became very proficient in the one-pot meal. Of course, the time of year will inform what I was making. So easy to toss a salad together in spring and summer when the majority of fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw – and I do love me a salad. The one-pot meal gets revved up as wool scarves become a daily accessory, and I tend to offer hot tea to all guests. A favorite cast iron saucepan, I rescued from a flea market, facilitates the best crispy biryani that is a go-to this time of year, however, plunging temperatures make these days, soup days.
Can anyone argue that a steaming bowl cannot melt away the nip of frost, and immediately make very thing cozy? Harkening back to my childhood when bowlfuls of tomato/rice or chicken noodle re-fueled, warmed and readied me tackle an afternoon of sledging. My mom knew what to prepared on frigid snow days. These days you would be hard pressed to get me on a sledge, or spend a extended period time in the snow, voluntarily. A simmering pot of brothy or creamy sustenance perfuming the house helps melt away the hibernating blues of mid-winter.
Chicken Soup with Plantain Dumplings – yields approx. 12 servings
1 green plantain (about a ½-pound) – peeled
2 scallions – green tops only
3 tablespoons unsalted butter – at room temperature
¼-cup masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
Roughly chop the plantain, and in a food processor fitted with the steel blade blend the plantain and scallion greens to a smooth paste. Transfer to a work bowl and thoroughly mix in the butter, masa harina and salt. You do not want to see any ribbons of butter.
With slightly moistened hands form the plantain mass into 14 walnut size balls.
In a four quart pot bring 2½ quarts of water to the boil, and gently place in the dumplings. Lower the heat to a simmer, and place a tight fitting lid the pot. Cook the dumplings, undisturbed for 20 minutes. (This can be done separately or placed in the soup in the last half hour.)
For the soup:
1 capon – cut into 12 pieces and rinsed under cold water
4 quarts chicken stock
3 carrots – peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 celery stalks – washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large onion – cut into 1 inched pieces
5 garlic cloves – peeled and chopped
¼- cup Italian parsley leaves – roughly chopped
1 pound cassava (yucca) – peeled and cut into about 2 inch pieces
½-pound button mushrooms
⅛-cup cilantro – roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 limes cut into 12 pieces for garnish
In an eight quart bring the capon and stock to the boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes skimming the fat and impurities off that float to the top.
After a half hour add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, cassava and mushrooms. Bring the soup back to the boil, and continue cooking for a minimum of 1 hour (up to 3 hours). Add the cilantro, dumplings and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in a large bowl with each serving getting a piece of chicken, and garnish with a lime wedge.