I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about the spaces in my mind. These ‘unprecedented times’ just feel like a free fall from >insert one of any big skyscrapers in your city of choice< to which the end just might be a mighty thud. When not working I spend my days trying to survive the emotional landmines. Some days are better than others as we live in our pressure cooker – trying to keep everyone in a peaceful state of mind, distract ourselves with cooking, baking or the latest streaming content and simultaneously tethering ourselves to help with those we love that we can no longer physically hug or be in close quarters which leaves me emotionally raw or ‘heart naked’.
And while I don’t often share these thoughts aloud, I have just about run out of rope. If you know me, you know that I am direct. And while I will go out of my way to be positive, I encourage you to read the subtext. Read.| Between.|The.| Lines.| Whether you live in a COVID ‘bubble’ or alone, there is not one scenario that is easier than the other. Everyone craves to be consoled and desperately wishes to wake-up and return to their normally scheduled lives. Well, most everyone, and I applaud those that are in the ‘other’ category for they are truly happy in this space and that is something I admire. I must be honest, despite it all, when I think back on these past months since the pandemic lock-down, there have been some really fantastic things that have happened, and new memories have been created that I truly cherish.
When I reflect back, I can see that my survival mode has been to flip the script. I don’t want every celebratory moment to be compared to what it previously was, and by making it new, or different, it somehow feels less unpleasant. For Thanksgiving, I opted out of cooking altogether. I know, shocking! My goal was to get outside and have an adventure, isolated but an adventure none-the-less. With that declaration made, my aunt/godmother, offered to host an outside socially distanced dinner the night before. Despite my efforts to avoid Thanksgiving, she made it very special for all of us.
Similarly, when the December holiday traditions started to surface, I had decided to opt out of my elaborate decorations.
>basically, pitching the baby out with the bathwater- yes, I too can sulk<
While on the phone with my friend, Shawn, he provided his sage and unsolicited advice to keep the traditions alive. He encouraged me to bake and exchange cookies on a much smaller scale and I listened. In doing so I found some true and deep smiles.
What can you deduce from all of this that I am sharing? Well, I am changing. I think we all are. I think we will feel the effects of this year for many years to come. Personally, I find that I have become an active listener. I’ve learned to read Zoom body cues. I’ve learned that some nights we need space and that it is best not to sit around the dinner table. And while I still find comfort in food and cooking, I am aware that things look a bit different. I have so much screen time logged that it pains me that even here, in my most favorite of hobbies, I struggle to write. I just want to distance myself from my devices.
So, how to we get from here to soup? Well, since my story starts with Thanksgiving, and loops back into the theory that we all need comfort, I am sharing my recipe for Turkey Chowder. For me creating this recipe was like a big hug in a bowl! It hits all of the flavor nodes and yet isn’t the usual turkey soup I’ve concocted for years. I still enjoy the usual recipe, but this year is different and so is this version of my soup. It is a hearty soup that is also light and creamy, very flavorful and loaded with turkey, wild rice and vegetables. Basically, it is the perfect solution to leftover turkey, and it makes enough to freeze half of the soup for another time.
This soup does take a bit of time and energy to get together, but I can tell you it will be well worth the effort.
2 cups uncooked wild rice
1 cup butter, unsalted
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 large carrots sliced into 1/4 -inch coins
8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup flour
2 cans low sodium chicken broth
12-14 cups water
4 cups half and half
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
½ cup fresh celery tops finely chopped or parsley (or 4 tsps dried parsley)
8 cups cooked and coarsely chopped chicken
4 tsps lemon juice, fresh squeezed
Prepare wild rice according to package directions (cooks approx. 50-60 minutes). Once the rice is cooked it should have a curled appearance with the darker outer shell broken open to reveal the lighter interior. This can even be prepared 1-2 days ahead of time and kept refrigerated.
The remainder of the recipe can be made in one large pot. Melt butter over medium heat. Then add the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Stir well and sauté until the onion is softened and translucent.
Add in the flour gradually, until it bubbles slightly. Gradually add in the broth, stirring continuously. Once the flour is combined, turn the heat up and bring the soup to a low boil for 1-2 minutes.
Reduce the heat slightly and add the rice, half and half, soy sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme celery leaves and turkey. Simmer for 20 minutes or until thoroughly warmed.
Stir in the fresh lemon juice and season to taste. Serve with bread.
Note: If reheating you may need to thin out the soup with a bit of hot water.