Warding off Frostbite


January 24, 2013 by lytlejoc

Today the weather says it’s -10 degrees C but that it “feels like -21”. I’ve never understood that. If it feels like -21, isn’t it -21?? I am no meteorologist, but I can tell you this: regardless of what the thermometer says, it’s cold. Damn cold. So cold that Scott’s hair froze on the dog walk yesterday morning, and he wasn’t out that long. On top of that, our little winding highway is often neglected after a snowfall and today it’s particularly treacherous. The plow passed this morning, but it might as well have been equipped with a feather duster, for all the good it did. Needless to say, I have been somewhat snowbound here since the snow began to fall in earnest, and I am beginning to show definite signs of cabin fever.

So this morning, despite the elements, I packed up my car, bundled myself and Toby up, and started out to keep a visit I’d been planning for the last few weeks. At the end of my driveway, my car (which looks deceptively like an SUV but isn’t in any functional way) got a little stuck and I had to coax her out onto the frosty road. My coaxing must have been a little vehement because I could smell burning rubber, and my car didn’t feel right – there was some serious drag going on and she was growling in protest. I crept fearfully on and pulled into our seaside cottage (which is fortunately only 2 minutes away) to drop off some soup to Scott, and lo and behold: I had a flat tire.


My wonderful, amazing, fearless husband and his awesome friend, in subzero weather and savage wind, put the spare tire on for me. Said tire looks like a go cart wheel so I’m not going anywhere for a while. It took the better part of an hour since the lug nuts were virtually frozen in place so Toby and I went inside our house to wait.

There has been fantastic structural progress in our house, but that kind of progress is really hard for a layperson like me to relate. What I can tell you is that we’ve ordered our entire kitchen furnishings and all our appliances and most of them are camped out in the barn, just waiting to get moved into their new posts – once we have rooms, plumbing and electricity. I can also tell you that Scott has been working like a slave, and while I have appreciated how hard he works and how tough the conditions must be, I didn’t even have an inkling of what he tolerates until I spent an hour in that house today in “what feels like” -21 degree weather.

Cold! I can’t tell you how cold it is. Scott has rigged up the wood stove that came with the house so at least he has a little source of heat, but the place is not exactly sealed, and so what little heat sputters forth from is swallowed up by the ravenous cold until it can only reach out a foot or so from the source. He wears layers upon layers of clothing, but still stops frequently to warm up his hands and put his feet in the oven as the steel-toed boots that he has to wear act like little toe freezers. By the end of my sojourn, my fingers and toes were numb and painful and Toby was in tears. I don’t know how Scott stands it. In short, that is one determined, and devoted husband and father, braving those kinds of hideous conditions for his family every day. Kudos to you, my wonderful man.

So how do I keep him warm? Unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking soup a lot. Nothing like a bowl of steaming soup to warm you up when you feel like you’re frozen from the inside out. Scott argues that it doesn’t count as supper (I respectfully disagree), so I usually just make it for lunch and throw a sandwich along side. My very favorite soup to make is Chicken Orzo soup with lemon, ginger and dill. There was a restaurant in Vancouver that made a delicious version of this soup which was also cheap and therefore a lunchtime favorite when I was working, and we all called it Crack Soup. This, my friends, is a soup that will stick to your ribs. And it’s so delicious that I usually eat it until I feel like I’m about to burst (hence the moniker). I urge you, go ahead and make this soup. Make it now.

Crack Soup (aka Chicken Orzo Soup)

*Disclaimer: while some of the tweaks and the delightful commentary throughout this recipe are my own, I can’t claim total originality. My inspiration and most of the proportions can be found on feasting at home, which is written by someone with actual cooking credentials.

For the broth:

1 chicken carcass with lots of meat hanging on to the bones (I almost always cook Jamie Oliver’s roast chicken recipe the night before and then use the leftovers to make this soup. You could just cheat and use pre-made chicken broth and some chicken breast if you wanted. I bet it would still be good.)

– 12 cups of water (if you’re doing the Full Monty and not the shortcut method I hint at above)

– 2 Bay leaves

– 4 tsp salt

Boil this all together for a few hours, then cool it and separate the wheat from the chaff. Or… meat from the bones. (To use idioms is a compulsion for me. Sorry.) To cool it really fast, you can put an inch or two of water in the sink and a tray full of ice cubes, then sit the whole soup pot in it. Make sure you keep the lid on, though, because if you’re like me, you WILL forget it’s there and you MIGHT wash your hands into it.Use your now clean hands to pick over the chicken and make sure all the bones are gone.

For the body of the soup:

– 1 cup diced onion

– 1 cup diced celery

– 1 or 2 Tbsp oil (I like olive)

– 1 or 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (depending on how gingery you like things. I gotta keep up my own ginger, so I use a lot.)

– 1/4 cup fresh dill (or about 1 Tbsp dry. Go fresh if you can help it. It’s worth it.)

– 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 1 Tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

– 2 eggs

– 1 cup Orzo

Saute the onion and celery in oil until tender then add the ginger and cook for another minute. Stir in the chicken, the broth and the lemon zest and bring to a boil. Skim out 2 cups of hot broth and (this is important) set it aside.

Add orzo and simmer uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes.

While this is simmering, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in a separate bowl. Grab that important broth that you tucked away and temper your eggs with it. This means you pour it, painfully slowly, into the eggs while you whisk feverishly. (You could save your arm and use a food processor for this step, but then you’ll have to wash the food processor which for me is rarely worth the use. Also, I don’t work out, so I try not to balk at a little whisking.) Once you’ve incorporated the broth into the eggs (and you’ll know you did it right if the mixture is frothy and not even remotely chunky looking), drizzle it back into the pot while stirring the soup vigorously. This step makes the soup a little thicker and gives it a nice, creamy texture. I think this is where the crack comes in.

Last but not least, add the dill and serve. And enjoy. I’m ready to promise that you will.

And help me save my husband from a slow, frostbitey death! What are some of your favorite soup recipes? 



8 thoughts on “Warding off Frostbite

  1. Greg Castle says:

    Looks good. I tried making Chicken soup last week. I found it boring. I think I’ll give this a try, (And Scott is right, soup is not a meal. Only part of one. My wife and I had this discussion as well.) See ya!

  2. Pam Hynes says:

    My favorite soup is Sausage, Bean and Broccoli Rabe. Go online and google the recipe by Rachel Ray. I made it tonight, but I had to substitute to Broccoli Rabe with Swiss Chard because apparently there is a shortage of it because of the cold weather this winter. It still tasted very good!!!!

  3. tracy3207 says:

    I’m so making this next week!

  4. It always feels like a real and warm (despite the temp!) homey visit with you when I read your posts….that’s a very good thing. And I get a great recipe along with it! Make sure you check my reply to your sweet comment on my own recent post. You are a true Blog Buddy! The Best!

  5. Kristin says:

    Saved this recipe post in my favs and made it tonight. Delish 🙂

    • lytlejoc says:

      It’s still a favorite here too! I made it the other day as the cold started reasserting itself and I had forgotten how much I like it… I sucked back three bowls of it for lunch that day.

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