As I'm standing, shovel in hand, waiting for it to stop snowing yet again, I'm thinking of a dish that's hearty and nourishing but a pleasant shock to the eye.
Maybe something that tastes like winter but looks like spring. Something like a Chicken and Rice Soup with Salsa Verde.
The idea is this: You make a chicken soup with a whole chicken. The best way to this is the simplest: You place the chicken in a pot, add cold water, bring the liquid to a boil, add vegetables and herbs, then allow the chicken to cool in the pot.
Then you remove the chicken, shred it and season it, then add it back to the broth along with the vegetables and some rice.
You make a bright green purée out of cilantro , lime zest and jalapeño. You serve this salsa verde tableside and your guests swirl it into the hearty soup, giving them a treat for the eye and the palate.
Note: If you want something more French and less Latin American, instead of a salsa verde, make a sauce verte with parsley, tarragon and chives. Just be sure to quickly blanch the herbs first.
Also, there is one correct way to wash the herbs. Rather than rinsing them under running water, which never gets the job done, immerse the herbs in a bowl of cold water, agitate the herbs in the water so all the dirt sinks to the bottom of the bowl, then carefully remove the herbs and dry them. If the water looks very dirty, repeat this process with fresh cold water and a clean bowl.
Chicken and Rice Soup with Salsa Verde
Makes about 2 -3 quarts of soup
1 chicken, 2½ to 3½ pounds
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon each toasted ground cumin and toasted ground coriander
2 cups cooked rice, still al dente
1 cup cooked greens, such as kale or mustard greens
TO MAKE THE SALSA VERDE
2 bunches cilantro, stemmed and washed
½ to 1 whole small jalapeños, seeded and trimmed
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
1 teaspoon toasted ground coriander
Juice of ½ lime
Salt, to taste
Place all the salsa verde ingredients except the lime in a blender and process until smooth. Add the lime juice just before serving. Season to taste.
To cook the chicken, place it in a narrow, tall pot and add water to cover. Add a few plates to keep the chicken submerged. Add a pinch of salt, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Bring pot to a boil. Remove pot from the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid.
Remove the chicken and shred about half of it. Reserve the other half for another use.
Season the meat with salt, pepper, and the cumin and coriander. Reserve the carrots and celery and add them back to the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid until it is flavorful and slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Be sure to skim off any fat from the soup.
Add the rice, cooked greens and the chicken to the soup and simmer to heat it through.
Serve the soup in wide bowls and pass the salsa verde.