Pomegranate Chicken Soup

An opened up pomegranate.

An opened up pomegranate. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Chicken is always good. It cooks fast and I’ve never seen one soul that wouldn’t eat it. I guess there are such folks. There is always somebody who dislikes fish, turnips (me), asparagus, parsnips (me), and artichokes. But I’ve never met a chicken hater.

As good as chicken is, it can be made better by marinating the critter.

I like to start with a dead chicken but you farm folks do have your preferences. I go to the butcher and I say, “Give me a dead chicken, not one of those blocks of ice—a freshly killed critter.”

There is always someone around when I ask for that dead bird. They laugh because I specified a dead chicken. Well, I just don’t like to take chances. The butcher might think that “fresh” means “alive.”

He might motion to one of the Mennonite ladies that frequent the store and give a nod. The next minute I’d have a live bird on my hands.

When I was a kid, our neighbors had chickens. So did my uncle on his little place where he raised lots of kids, chickens, had a milk cow, and raised a calf every year. I remember how a chicken was prepared in those days. You took the poor bird and chopped off its head. It then would flutter around on the ground spurting blood from hell to breakfast.

That was not appetizing to me.

I had a friend that worked in a poultry processing plant. The chickens were hung from a rope conveyor. When a bird got to my friend he would take this very sharp knife, grab the bird by the head, and cut its juggler vein. That is if chickens have a juggler vein. If not, it still spurted blood as it went down the line, was dunked into scalding water, de-feathered, gutted, and declared “ready to cook.”

I was with my friend one day when he was killing a couple of his own birds out in his back yard. Being a “professional,” he hung the two birds from the clothes line and used his little knife. Then he dropped them into a tub of hot water that he had heated over an open fire. While all of this was going on, the neighbor lady was screaming about our inhumanity or inchickenanity, and finally saying, “I’m going to call the police!”

My friend told her that he was killing the birds in a humane (chicken) way and that she should mind her own business. She didn’t go away and she didn’t quit screaming at us. However, I will say this for that nosy old crab, she never called the police.

Well, now you know why I always ask for a “dead” chicken. I’m not taking any chances.

What? You will never eat a chicken again?

Now, the subject in case you forgot, is the marination of a dead chicken. I’m sure that you have taken a couple of chicken breast out of that big bag you bought at Cosco®, thawed them out in your microwave, placed them in a bowl and poured teriyaki sauce or orange juice over them, letting them sit in the refrigerator over night, a few hours, or may be you just plunked them into the fry pan.

However, that is not the only way to do it.

I like to get flavor in my chicken by boiling a whole dead chicken in chicken broth (I don’t trust the chicken to provide it), adding spices, and letting the bird cook until the meat falls off the bones.

I like chicken and noodles and chicken and dumplings so I often add the chicken to a soup. Typically, I would start with the chicken broth, or if I’m squeamish, new broth, add carrots and an onion and a clove of garlic followed by adding Country Noodles.

If I want dumplings, I just take a can of biscuit dough out of my refrigerator and drop pieces of dough on top of the boiling soup, let them boil for a minute or two, close the lid, and wait about twenty minutes for the dumplings to cook.

Now don't open that lid and let all of the steam out.

I like to read books by Gary Jennings. Gary was raised in New Jersey and his one purpose in life was to write. He, like me, preferred self education over the institutional kind.

Gary did not spend eight years in college like I did. He went right to work for a newspaper. Like me, he served in Korea. He was the only war correspondent ever to receive the Bronze Star for valor.

After the Korean War, Gary moved to Mexico and wrote about a dozen children’s stories. While there he became enchanted with the Aztecs and wrote his first historical novel. The name of that novel is Aztec.

Gary passed away and I can not look forward to his next novel. Therefore I read the old ones over and over again.

Right now I am reading his historical novel about Marco Polo. The title is The Journeyer. That’s where I learned about marinating chicken in pomegranate juice.

It just so happens that my wife and I live on juice. We are juice attics, or you might say juice-o-attics. We go to Cosco® and stock up. There are usually at least twenty gallons of juice out in our garage.

Recently we bought some pomegranate juice which was slightly laced with Açaí juice. Marco Polo said that in Persia, he had chicken cooked in pomegranate juice. It sounded good to me.

Here is my recipe:

Pomegranate Chicken Soup

Go to your butcher and ask for a fresh dead chicken. Boil the chicken in pomegranate juice until the meat comes off the bones or can be easily removed. As you remove the meat, you may want to spoon over it some of the juice that is left in the pot. You may as well get every ounce of flavor you can.

At this point I was hungry. I made a couple of sandwiches with the chicken. Yum! Yum!

The next day the chicken had reached a marvelous level of flavor. I don’t know why after you boil something for a couple of hours it still taste better the next day, but it does.

My wife says that it is the diffusion of the good tasting stuff into the chicken.

Actually, my wife never uses the word diffusion, but since the word occurs in both my college senior thesis and in my doctoral dissertation, I am using it here.

Now for the Pomegranate Chicken Soup.

This will take about five (5) minutes to make. Take a can of carrots and pour the carrots and the water used in the canning process into a pan. Add one can of creamed soup.

You can use the soup that I did, but it will not change the flavor that much. I used cheese broccoli. I was too lazy to go out in the garage for a can of creamed celery soup.

Drop the marinated chicken into the soup and you are finished.

Whoops! I forgot that I added a can of mushrooms.

You do not have to flavor the soup. The Pomegranate Chicken takes over flavor-wise.

It is fabulous!

Just ask my wife.

Now, I did save some of the chicken for sandwiches.

Why not?

John T. Jones, Ph.D. (tjbooks@hotmail.com, a retired VP of R&D for Lenox China, is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering, humor), poetry, etc. Former editor of Ceramic Industry Magazine. He calls himself "Taylor Jones, the hack writer."

Copyright © 2007 John T. Jones