Although the days are getting longer, it’s still bitterly cold and snowy around here. Last week I had a craving for some figure-friendly comfort food and decided to make chicken soup. I’ve made something like this “recipe” since my early twenties, and over the years I have made some modifications but it’s pretty basic. Probably, many folks have a meal like this in their repertoire, at least I hope so. It’s a blessing, and really more of a “method” than an actual recipe since this is the first time I am writing it out. I don’t really measure. It’s more about what I feel like when I am preparing it.
The broth: my husband loves this so much he’ll drink it straight. In a 3.5 quart pot (I like enameled cast iron) assemble
- 1 leftover (or not) 2-3 lb rotisserie chicken. You may certainly roast your own. Reserve most of the breast meat to chop and add into the soup at the end. If you like thigh and leg meat reserve some of that.
- 1 onion quartered, or a couple of leeks, trimmed and rinsed well to remove any grit. I really enjoy leeks.
- 1 or 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks. Sometimes I just snap them in half and throw them in.
- 1 stalk of celery, preferably from the heart of the bunch, with some leaves
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme, or a few pinches of dried thyme
- A handful of parsley, leaves and stems
- The juice of 1 lemon (this can be added during the simmer.)
- Water to just cover all, leaving enough headroom to bring the pot to a boil.
Bring the pot to a gentle boil over medium heat, then back the heat off and simmer the pot for an hour, or more. When the vegetables are very soft, but not mushy, remove them along with the chicken carcass and discard. I use a slotted spoon at first, and then a skimmer to get the smaller bits so I don’t have to strain the hot liquid into a bowl then return it to the pot. Salt to taste.
If you haven’t the time to create your own broth, there are some really good ones available at the market. I recently discovered this one, and it’s a little pricey at about $7 a quart, but very delicious.
At this point I add noodles. I just use a handful or two of whatever dried pasta is on hand and cook it according to the package directions right in the broth. On the day I made the soup in the photo I had dilatini, but you can use whatever appeals to you and your family. You can use quick cooking rice if you like, too.
Then I add a few frozen vegetables. You can freestyle it here–if you love them load up on them. It’s a good opportunity to use any miscellaneous opened bags you might have in the freezer. My favorite is a mixture of peas, green beans, corn and carrots. I love the colors. Simmer for a few minutes until the vegetables are heated through.
Finally, add the meat you have reserved from your chicken. You can chop it into chunks as I did, or shred it. I do this last since the chicken is already cooked and I don’t want it to get rubbery.
This recipe feeds 4-6, or can be refrigerated for a couple of weekday lunches. Do you have a “by heart” recipe?