If we had to sum up our priorities for January in a single dish, it'd be chicken soup. The liquid panacea is equal parts comforting and simple.

That said, even the most enthusiastic fans would inevitably get bored after a month of the stuff.

Or would they?

To test the depths of the dish, we tapped three different chefs to interpret chicken soup through the flavor profile of a specialized cuisine: Southern, Chinese and Italian. Using the same four base ingredients--broth, a whole chicken, rice and braising greens--the resulting recipes couldn't be more different.

Frank Stitt, the genial overlord of contemporary Southern cuisine and owner of Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, kicks off our miniseries. For Stitt, the task of giving the soup a Southern inflection was inspired by the immediate offerings of nearby farms.

But his recipe is no generic greenmarket dishwater. It calls for collards, rutabagas and an old hen--a humble ingredient list that harkens back to the region's historic poverty. "It's my take on a domestic kind of cucina povera," he told us.

The earthy soup has a luxe finishing touch: Crisped-up pieces of chicken skin garnish each bowl. After all, it's not really Southern without bacon drippings or fried chicken.

Look out for the second chicken soup recipe, which will be delivered to your inbox next week.