There was a whole chicken breast in the freezer, lying in state in a zippered bag. In a sudden burst of organizational energy, I removed it from the freezer, thinking it would be nice slow cooked with mushrooms, sherry, tarragon and a swirl of sour cream to finish it off, a comforting dish alongside fragrant Basmati rice. Or else browned with chopped onions, garlic and celery, then simmered in a spicy tomato bath, redolent with curry and cayene.
But busy life being what it is, I forgot about the thawing breast until just before the eleventh hour. In a daring rescue attempt, I opened the bag, sniffed carefully and, wonder of wonders, found no fowl odor. Being otherwise uninspired, however, I decided to simmer it simply with some onion, celery and carrot and see if it might through some mysterious alchemy turn into soup. In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess to adding a generous splash of dry vermouth, a cup of chicken stock, then ground almost too much black pepper into the roux and at the end folded in some wide noodles.
I think it tasted even sweeter for having almost not existed.
And like other paliatives for the slings and arrows of life, the outrages we all endure, the sorrows, the accidents, the lost love, the neverfound love, the love that died aborning, the ill child and the addict in our midst, the furtive meanness of the small soul. . . chicken soup might not help long term, but it gives comfort, and does no harm.