A Spoon Full of Chicken Soup

By Kathy Kiernan January 24, 2013 05:36 PM
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A Spoon Full of Chicken Soup

It’s flu season. We all know the cure for the common cold is chicken soup, but I find it really helps with the flu, too. It’s Jewish Penicillin… but my version’s got a Latin kick.

I’ve finally created my perfect chicken soup recipe – that is, it’s perfect for me. There are a few variations, so it’s either a little work or completely effortless… adapt it to your own needs.

I mean, the easiest way to “make chicken soup” is by throwing some cooked chicken into store-bought canned or vacuum-packed broth, bouillon or soup starter, like “Better than Bullion.” But that’s pretty soulless.

I like real, fresh chicken broth. Which I get from a freshly cooked chicken. Here’s your first time-saving opportunity. You can either roast a chicken yourself, or buy one for a few bucks already roasted at the grocery store. I adore the one they’ve got at my local Costco for $5.00. I generally make chicken soup after my every visit to that big box warehouse.

If you’re going to roast your own chicken first, be sure to roast some carrots, celery and onion along with it or inside it. They caramelize, which just adds such a depth to your eventual soup.

If you’re buying the chicken already cooked, you’d do yourself a favor by pan-roasting those veggies in a saucepan for a few minutes, just turning the carrots, celery and onion enough so they brown a bit but are not cooked through. You may not need oil if you’re using a nonstick pan, or you can use a little olive oil or butter. But here’s another time saver – just use raw veggies cut into large chunks.

Pull most of the chicken off the bones. I don’t care for dark meat (I know! Sacrilege to some!) so I leave that on the bone and just pull the white meat, and reserve it (or eat some right now!)

Put all the bones into a deep pot and cover with water. If you bought the chicken cooked, run some water around the container it came in, and pour that over the bones too. Get every drop of the natural juices. If you roasted your own bird and have any giblets, throw those in the pot too.

Add the roasted or raw vegetables. Then add a whole clove of garlic and a washed bunch of cilantro, plus a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. For easy cleanup, you could put the bones, giblets, garlic and cilantro into a cheesecloth bag, and just remove that when cooking’s done. If you’ve got some, add a teaspoon of poultry seasoning.

Put the pot on high heat and cover until it comes to a boil. Skim off any scum that may have developed. Turn the heat down to simmer and let the pot go for about two hours. In the real timesaver version you can go one hour, but really no less than that. And yes you could crock pot this instead and let it go all day on low.

Strain the broth, reserving it and reserving the vegetables. If you like veggies in your soup, cut them small and add them back to the broth, along with some of the pulled chicken meat. You’ll notice there’s no salt in this recipe (except possibly in the roast chicken itself). I don’t think you really need it, because of the other spices. But this is the point at which you might give it a good grind of fresh sea salt.

I don’t care for rice or pasta in my chicken soup, but if you do, add about a half cup, uncooked, and simmer the mixture for another half hour for the rice or 15 minutes for the pasta.

Enjoy… and feel better!

Kathy’s Chicken Soup Recipe

Ingredients
1 roast chicken (recipe to follow, or store-cooked)
(optional: giblets – if you roast your own bird)
2-3 large carrots, scrubbed; cut or broken into 3” pieces
2-3 ribs celery, washed; cut into 3” pieces
1 large onion, quartered
(optional: 1 Tbsp olive oil or butter)
1 bunch cilantro; bottom 1/3 of stems removed, washed
1 whole clove garlic, peeled
2 grinds fresh black pepper
(optional: 1 tsp poultry seasoning)
(optional: fresh sea salt to taste)
(optional: ½ cup rice or pasta – stars, orzo, etc)

Method
Put all ingredients except optional sea salt and optional rice or pasta into a deep soup pot, cover with water.

Cover, bring to a boil. Skim if necessary. Turn down heat. Simmer two hours (or more). Let cool. Strain, reserving the liquid, of course, and also the veggies. Cut veggies small, put back into the liquid. Add chicken meat. If adding optional pasta or rice, do so now and simmer another 15-30 minutes.

Kathy’s Roast Chicken Recipe

Ingredients
1 3-6 pound roasting chicken
1 bunch fresh springs of thyme
2 Tbsp butter, softened, or olive oil
1 large onion, quartered
2-3 stalks celery, cut into 3” pieces
2-3 large carrots, scrubbed; cut or broken into 3” pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt, pepper

Method
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove giblets, if any, from the chicken. Rinse the bird and dab dry with paper towels. Spread softened butter or olive oil across all chicken skin. Salt and pepper the inside and on the outside of the chicken. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Stuff the chicken cavity with the garlic, thyme, celery and onion quarters. Surround the chicken with the carrots.

Roast 50-60 minutes. Let chicken rest at least 15 minutes before taking the meat off for soup. Use the whole thing chicken and all its contents in making the soup recipe, above.


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