I dreamed of my father last night. In the dream he was strong and whole - and living happily in the south of France.
Perhaps he is.
People who have heard me relating my vivid dreams often ask me, "What did you eat before you went to bed?" and of course, I tell them nothing, because late-night snacks are not part of of my diet.
But a good supper - and we tend to eat later - is essential. I am often hungriest at night, when we hunker down in our cozy snuggery with books and magazines and DVDs and a remote control at hand.
Last night, after our wonderful roasted chicken, I made a rich golden stock from the carcass. All day I imagined how it would be, simmering away on the stove, filled with the vegetables of late winter into spring.
Shallots and mushrooms I had on hand; asparagus I found at the supermarket - yes, it's beginning to show up there!
I sautéed the shallots and mushrooms while I roasted the asparagus, just enough to impart that delicate flavor roasting provides.
Added together, the vegetables gave the soup a sweet and dark and bosky flavor, like a forest in spring. I paired it with a slice of whole grain bread from a rustic loaf from the bakery.
Chicken Soup with Roasted Asparagus, Mushrooms and Shallots
- 10-12 stalks of asparagus
- 3-4 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-5 cups homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup chicken, dark and white meat, cubed
- grated pepper and fleur de sel to taste
- pinch of your favorite herbs
Wash the asparagus, breaking off the tough bottoms of the stalks. Coat with a tablespoon or less of olive oil and roast until the stalks just begin to turn brown at the edges. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, slice shallots and mushrooms. Place in a deep sauce pan and sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil until the shallots and mushrooms begin to turn golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
Empty chicken stock into saucepan (I like to chill it first so I can remove the congealed fat). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer, adding more water if necessary. Lower the heat and add the vegetables and the cubed chicken. Check the soup and season to suit your tastes. Allow to simmer about 5 minutes longer on low heat.
I kept the seasonings simple because I wanted the flavors to remain true. But I'd recommend a pinch of fresh parsley flakes. You may also add a bay leaf to the soup while it simmers.
Update: I have made this with fresh thyme, and also with a dash of herbes de Provence.