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Chicken Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Basil

chicken,-shiitake-and-basil-soupOne of my favorite things about cooking is the bounty of it. To start with, there is the beauty and joy of all the colorful ingredients, full of so much nourishment. But then, there are the secondary products that lend themselves to even more kitchen projects. When I cook there is always a next step – peel the corn and save the silk for tincture or to dry for tea (good medicine for the urinary track), take the seeds out of the squash or pumpkin and soak them to then roast for snacks (delicious, high in zink, excellent for the prostate!), roast a chicken, pick every last morsel of meat from the bones and then throw them in the crock pot to make stock (mineral and gelatin rich healing broth), finish the jar of lacto-fermented pickles and dump the brine in a bowl with flax seeds to become flax crackers. When you really embrace the waste not want not model, the gift of abundance seems to never end.
To commit to this way of life is to embrace a deep appreciation for the gift of food in all its forms. I think a lot of people see this potential as a lot of work – we all already have so much to do! That is becuase in our world these tasks are not necessary, they are extra. We can buy pumpkin seeds and all kinds of other seeds at the store, we can also buy broth and maybe even cornsilk. So why bother? Because when we involve ourselves in these kinds of projects it is deeply satisfying. The process helps us feel connected to ourselves, to our bodies, to the food, to the land and then, importantly, to what we eat, which reminds us of our connection to all these other things. It is a way of being grateful for what we have, and experiencing gratitude and being grateful is one of the most healing things we can do – studies have now proven it!
This soup came to me after one such chicken roasting day. Left over meat was picked from the bone and stored in the fridge for 48 hours while I simmered the broth in the crock pot. I found these beautiful, locally grown shiitake mushrooms at our local coop and I picked a bouquet of basil from the fields that was meant for the vase, but didn’t last long in its full decorative form…
Serves 4 as a side dish or first course.
1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
1 cup chopped leek or onion
1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms (slices or chunks both work)
1 cup chicken bits
4 cups (1 quart) chicken broth
1 cup packed whole basil leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
Saute leeks or onions in ghee or olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add the shiitake mushrooms and saute until tender. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and mix well. Add chicken bits and stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until mushrooms are fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, add basil leaves, mix well and let sit with the lid on for 5 minutes before serving. This steeping process will soften the basil leaves while allowing them to maintain their vibrant green color and rich aroma.
Here is that bouquet of basil that I made for the table but ended up in the soup pot!

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