Savory stuff

Homemade Chicken Soup

There is something about making homemade chicken soup that makes me happy. It’s one of the most relaxing, laid back cooking experiences you can have. You get to cook and simmer as slowly as you’d like, adding ingredients here and there, and then continuing to do so until you get to the part where it’s pretty much perfect. And then you can set it to low, cover it, and wait until people are ready to eat.

Granted, you can’t really go anywhere during that time, but that’s one of the things that makes it such a great experience. If people come to your door (presumably because they could smell the deliciousness from afar) to visit, you can usher them in, kick the heat on the stove top down a few notches, and stir occasionally. Less fun, if you have laundry to do or other stuff to bake, like bread to go with the soup, you can do that, too.

I was never a canned soup kind of kid, partly because I can always taste the metal, but there just wasn’t enough flavor for me. And let’s be honest, while it’s a great time saver, it’s not nearly as enjoyable to make. Chicken Soup is supposed to be good for you physically, but I think it’s also really good for the chef’s psyche.

As I’m sure you are aware if you have seen any of my jams, I don’t like bland food. I pretty much always add red pepper flakes as one of the initial spices, along with the regulars like marjoram, oregano, rosemary, etc. Starting those spices simmering with the olive oil and onions allows the flavors to build and grow and not just be overpowering, added at the end. Then I add chopped celery and let that cook and simmer.

If it looks like its starting to dry up a little, I add some water – no specific amount, just enough to keep the onion and celery from burning while I make my broth. I really like Better Than Bullion’s Reduced Sodium Roast Chicken (sadly, I don’t get any free for saying that, but maybe one day…) and I like to make the hot broth two cups at a time and then add it to the soup. There’s no reason for the 2 cups except that’s the capacity of my glass measuring cup. I don’t know that pouring it in hot does anything specific, but it works for me.

Once the broth has started boiling, this is where it gets fun!  You can now put pretty much anything in the soup that you want to try (or happen to have in your cabinet). Typically, I add some diced tomatoes. I accidentally used some zesty jalapeno diced tomatoes a few weeks ago, which made it super spicy, so to reduce the kick, I added some crisp corn. I used to include corn but it made the soup just a little too sweet, but the combination of the two works really well. I bake some chicken (or pick it off of a rotisserie) and then chop it into bite sized pieces and add to the broth, boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

I have also included chopped up kale and garlic, which I find delicious – my family isn’t as keen on the kale. On occasion, I just add some to my own bowl last minute, which sort of works. Also to be added is rice or egg noodles, if you wish to have more than just the chicken and broth. There are multiple options in how to do this. My husband prefers that I keep the rice/noodles separate if we are going to have leftovers, because if they are part of the soup, they just continue to expand while sitting in a container in the fridge. If you are going to include egg noodles, I recommend the smallest possible ones because they don’t completely absorb every drop of soup.

The prettiest way to display the meal is to make rice and use an ice cream scoop to place a perfect ball of rice in the center of a pasta bowl and then pour the chicken soup over the top. Chicken soup may be a perfect, homey meal, but sometimes it’s nice to make it look pretty, too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, additions, how you make what your family thinks is the best chicken soup in the world. I know I can’t be the only person whose family thinks that!

 

Since I like to look at ingredient lists on websites, here is a VERY generic, flexible list of what you need:

  • a few hours in which you want to enjoy the act of creating and tasting. Music is a wonderful addition, but so is good company.
  • a large pot with a cover
  • One yellow onion, diced (although you could probably slice as rings and it would work, too)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • a shake or two (so probably 1/4 – 1/2 tsp) of red pepper flakes
  • any or all of the following, to taste: marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, basil, pepper, garlic or some conglomeration spice (Italian Seasoning, Herbs de Provence, Badia’s Complete Seasoning, etc), turmeric, paprika. I typically don’t use too much salt because the spices add so much flavor, and the broth has plenty, even the reduced sodium kind
  •  8 cups of chicken broth (however you create that)
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (or fresh if you have some that never made it onto a salad or a BLT)
  • 1 15oz can of crisp corn
  • 1-2 lbs cooked, chopped chicken
  • cooked rice or egg noodles (the egg noodles can go in uncooked if cooked into the soup as opposed to being added separately)
  • Crusty bread to eat with butter or dip into the broth.

This makes enough for about 8 dinner size servings

 

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