Leeking The Benefits Of Chicken Soup

Leeks are regarded as the 'national vegetable' of Wales DIANA HELFAND PHOTO

Leeks are regarded as the ‘national vegetable’ of Wales DIANA HELFAND PHOTO

Honolulu has a vibrant vocal arts scene, as evidenced in Hawaii Opera Theatre’s recent successful and critically acclaimed production of Madame Butterfly, Paliku Theatre’s Hair-spray and the upcoming production of Closer Than Ever at Manoa Valley Theatre.

There are virtually hundreds of behind-the-scenes players who make each local production come to life, and tenor Kip Wilborn is one of them.

Kip is at home on stage as a soloist in the United States and throughout Europe, with engagements in opera houses such as San Francisco Opera, OpĂ©ra National de Paris, New York City Opera, Volksoper Vienna, Trieste’s Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, Essen’s Aalto Theater, and Berlin’s Theater desWestens, to name just a few of his accomplishments.

Stepping behind the scenes also comes naturally to Kip, who brings his vocal expertise as a director in Manoa Valley Theatre’s production of Closer Than Ever, opening Thursday evening (Nov. 13). This popular musical revue by Maltby and Shire is a collection of songs about aging, midlife crisis, second marriages, working couples and unrequited love. For more information, call 988-6131.

Kip has the pleasure of working with Alison Aldcroft, Marion Bienvenu-Callais, Guy Merola, Buz Tennent and Miguel K. Pa’ekukui, some of Honolulu’s finest vocal powerhouses.

Bringing all of these voices into harmony takes a lot of energy and devotion, and Kip is definitely one to take care of his health — especially when it comes to his diet. So I would like to dedicate this healthy and full-bodied soup recipe to him.

Believed to have originated in central Asia, leeks have been known since antiquity and are mentioned in the Bible. They were cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, and thought to have been introduced into Great Britain by the Romans. Held in high esteem by the Celts, they are regarded as the “national vegetable” of Wales.

When purchasing, look for leeks that are straight, firm and intact. They should have bright-green tops and be free of brown patches.

Raw leeks are an excellent source of folic acid, and a good source of iron and potassium. They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and copper. Leeks are said to be diuretic, laxative and anti-arthritic, and also are known for their cleansing effect on the digestive system.

HEARTY CHICKEN SOUP

* 1 chicken, quartered, skin removed
* 3 1/2 quarts water
* 1 leek, sliced
* 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
* 2 onions, chopped
* 2 celery stalks with leaves
* 1/2 bunch fresh dill, tied in a bundle with white thread
* 4 curly parsley sprigs
* 3 carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
* 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
* 1 can chicken broth (may use low sodium and no MSG)
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* salt, to taste

Wash chicken and place in an eight- to 10-quart pot. Add water, bring to a boil and skim.

Add onions, leek, celery, salt and pepper. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is almost tender. Add chicken broth, carrots, parsley and parsnips; simmer, covered, 30 minutes more or until chicken and vegetables are tender.

Remove bones, and skim fat. Remove dill bundle and press the juices into the soup.

Serve in bowls as is, or with rice or noodles that have been cooked and drained.

Makes eight main-dish servings.

Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program

heartychef@hotmail.com