I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. I’d avoided getting sick this winter, but it crept up on me this week and hit with a vengeance. Some chicken soup was clearly in order. I’ve learned to keep my pantry stocked just for occasions like this — when I need something quick to eat but haven’t the time or the energy to cook.
We think of canning as a way to preserve the harvest, but it’s also about making your own convenience food. A quart of chicken stock, a pint of chicken meat, and a pint of spicy bok choy — each jar contains a story of replacing what used to be in my cupboard with something homemade. I included some dried alaria seaweed (similar to wakame), scissored into the broth, and topped my bowl with a tangle of cilantro microgreens.
The seaweed came from last weekend’s gathering, the NOFA-NH Winter Conference, where I attended Larch and Nina Hanson’s workshop, “Seaweed Uses as Food, Medicine, and Fertilizer.” Through their business, Maine Seaweed, they offer seaweed hand-harvested near their home on the coast of Maine, more familiarly known as Down East. The presentation was accompanied by a mesmerizing video of the process, with Larch and his apprentices looking more like sleek otters playing in the surf, than wet-suited harvesters.
After tasting samples of kelp, alaria, dulse and digitata, and a tonic bowl of Nina’s soup, I came away with a deeper understanding of their different textures, tastes and uses. Even more was my appreciation of Larch and Nina’s sense of place and the life they’ve created there. Heartfelt thanks to both of them for sharing their stories, and for showing what’s possible. If interested in seeing for yourself, Larch and Nina welcome visitors each summer during July and August, and offer apprenticeships as well.
Pantry Chicken Soup with Seaweed
1 quart of chicken stock
1 pint of canned chicken
1 pint of bok choy kimchi
Alaria, snipped into pieces
Handful of cooked rice
Dash of soy, sesame oil, white pepper, and cider vinegar
– Add chicken stock, chicken, kimchi, and seaweed together in a pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Stir in a handful of cooked rice or other grain, and season to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with something fresh and green.