Pantry Chicken Soup with Seaweed

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
Cilantro microgreens

– 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.

Local ingredients: Chicken from Chick Farm; alaria from Maine Seaweed; cilantro microgreens from The Herb Farmacy; cider vinegar from Sewall’s Orchard; homemade chicken stock and bok choy kimchi.

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8 Responses to Pantry Chicken Soup with Seaweed

  1. E. Baron says:

    I love reading your blog for the way you push me in new directions. Seaweed in chicken soup makes perfect sense; what a healing combination, indeed. I’m so sorry I missed the NOFA-NH conference (for a very good reason). I probably would have wandered into this wonderful workshop as well.

    • leduesorelle says:

      I’m sorry that you weren’t able to make it to the conference, Eleanor. The weather was wretched that morning and I didn’t make it there until midday, and even then it was a trial. I’m glad I made it though, the two workshops I went to were terrific (the other was Didi Emmon’s “Wild Flavors”), the conference seemed well attended with many new faces, and there was a wonderful vibe overall — kudos to the organizers on a job well done!

  2. Liz says:

    I often get sick at the start of Spring, why it hits then I don’t know but it seems to every year. I have stock in the freezer ready for just this sort of occasion – will have to try it with seaweed in future.

    • leduesorelle says:

      I think you’re right, Liz, this seems more a spring sickness more than a winter one. These transition times are always hard on the body and I let my guard down!

  3. Lrong says:

    Very healthy looking soup combination…
    Take care…

  4. Thank you so much for the highly informative link for the seaweed-I just wish I lived closer and could visit and learn more. When I lived in Devon close to the sea, in the South West of England, I regularly collected seaweed to put on my garden-sadly it is now illegal on many beaches to collect it. I would love to learn more about the different types to cook and eat.

    Hope you are now feeling better!

    • leduesorelle says:

      Given where you are, I was thinking you might have some experience with using seaweed. From what I understand, due to over-harvesting, we’re seeing more controls regarding seaweed but the public trust doctrine still allows us to collect what’s left in the intertidal zone here in Maine, and differs from state to state.

      As for cooking and eating, Darina Allen has a bit on seaweed (with recipes) in her cookbook, “Forgotten Skills of Cooking”, covering uses for carrageen moss, dulse, and kelp — including dulse champ and dulse sodabread! I also highly recommend John Wright’s “Edible Seashore (River Cottage Handbook No. 5)” — great info on identifying and foraging, plus how to eat it. There’s a nice recipe section, including a lovely one for “Seaweed and Elderflower Panna Cotta”!

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