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Kauai Chicken Soup

Kauai Chicken Soup with acini di pepe pasta. Marta Lane photo.

Kauai Chicken Soup with acini di pepe pasta. Marta Lane photo.

As all visitors know, Kauai has a robust feral chicken population. While some local families capture and cook them, most of us prefer to buy our chicken at the store. You can find whole, organic chicken at Cost-U-Less, Costco and Safeway for about $20. Yikes! Right? But it’s expensive to live in Hawaii, since almost everything is imported, and making this recipe gives you enough broth and cooked chicken for six to eight meals. For me, that’s worth it.

Our rainy season lasts from winter through spring. It’s terrific for whale watching, but sometimes downpours trap you inside. I know it can be frustrating when you’ve spent a lot of money and are expecting sunshine and blue skies. But without the rain, there are no rainbows. And without the rain, Kauai wouldn’t be nicknamed the Garden Island. Rain happens. If you have access to a stovetop, pot and cutting board, you can make the best of a rainy day by cooking a pot of chicken soup. As it simmers, filling your home with wholesome aromas, you can play board games with your loved ones.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer, so small bubbles burst every five seconds or so. Marta Lane photo.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer, so small bubbles burst every five seconds or so. Marta Lane photo.


I tweaked my mother’s recipe a bit by adding fresh and local calamansi limes, ginger and turmeric. You can substitute calamansi for 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and fresh ginger and turmeric for 1 teaspoon of ground, each. Ginger is known to calm irritated tummies and for its antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric has long been used in Chinese and Indian medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic. Garlic is used to manage blood pressure, the cardiovascular system, as an anti-inflammatory agent and for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. This trifecta of healing nutrients are supercharging if you have a cold, so I added more garlic to the garnish for superpower immunity!
Place the following in a large pot in the order listed, then cover with eight cups of water:

  • 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch rounds
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 large parsnip, cut into 2-inch rounds
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1, 2-inch slice of fresh ginger, crushed (optional)
  • 1, 1-inch slice of fresh turmeric, crushed (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 Hawaiian chili peppers, sliced in half (optional)
  • 1 whole chicken

Garnish

  • 1/4 parsley, minced
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 calamansi limes, juiced

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer, so small bubbles burst every five seconds or so. On my stove it’s the lowest setting. Cover with the lid cracked a tiny bit and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the chicken legs jiggle when gently shaken. Strain, reserve broth and let chicken cool. Separate meat from the bones and use in soup or other recipes. Feel free to add one cup of greens such as kale, chard or dandelion, or any steamed veggie. If you add noodles, cook a whole package in a separate pot of salted boiling water. Add a serving size of noodles to a bowl then top with chicken, optional greens and/or veggies, broth and garnish. Store the rest of the pasta and chicken in fridge to use as needed. My chicken yielded enough shredded meat for eight bowls of soup and four salads.
If you’d like to learn more about calamansi, fresh ginger and turmeric, or any other exotic produce, join me on my Farmers Market Kauai Food Tour!

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