Sunday, April 29, 2012

Classic Chicken Soup

I learned from an early age how to make chicken soup, but over the years I adapted the family recipe to my own taste and spiced it up with more hearty vegetables and delicious herbs. I've found that chicken soup is a great way to clean your fridge out of vegetables that may be lingering in the drawer. The basic staple veggies are carrot, onion, and celery. Other vegetables that may make an appearance are broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower rice, escarole, spinach, etc. Feel free to get creative and experiment! Below is the recipe as I threw it together the other night:

  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  •  1 medium onion, halved and sliced thick
  • 2-3 sundried tomatoes, chopped (these are just for a little extra taste for the broth, so don't overdo it)
  • 8 - 10 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 handfuls of baby carrots
  • 3-4 sticks of celery, sliced thick (don't discard the leafy tops! chop those up and add them as well)
  • 1 large zucchini, halved and sliced 1 inch thick (this was my "extra" veggie I added to my soup this time around outside the staple ingredients)
  • assorted herbs (a few sprigs fresh, or 1 tsp dried) of thyme, rosemary, and parsley

  1. Begin by adding the chicken thighs, onion, and sundried tomato to a large stock pot or dutch oven and cover it with chicken stock. 
  2. Add a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and crank the heat up to high to bring the pot to a boil.
  3. When the pot boils, lower the heat to simmer until the onions are translucent and the chicken is cooked through (about 10-15 min).
  4. Add all your herbs and veggies to the pot (except if you are doing leafy greens like escarole or spinach - those will wait until the end).
  5. Simmer another 10 minutes or so more until vegetables are soft. I usually do what I call the "carrot test". I maneuver a baby carrot to the side of the pot and see if I can easily squish it with my wooden spoon. If I can't, the veggies aren't soft enough and I know I need to cook it longer. If the carrot "squishes" then my soup is ready to come off the stove. If I am adding in leafy greens, I do it at that point and cook for another minute or so until the greens have wilted. 
  6. Take a large spoon and remove the chicken thighs from the pot (they should all still be whole for the most part) and put them in a bowl off to the side. One by one, use a knife and fork to shred the chicken and add it back to the pot. Once this is done, then the soup is ready!

Tips for variations:

  1. Pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor until it has a rice-like consistency and saute it in a nonstick pan with a little oil until just soft. This can be added to your soup before serving to mimic rice.
  2. Julienne some zucchini or summer squash and saute them in a frying pan with a little oil until aldente and add them to the soup before serving to mimic noodles.
  3. Chop up some delicious leafy greens like a head of escarole or spinach and add it to the pot for the last minute of cooking.
  4. If you eat cheese, a little grated fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese is delicious sprinkled in the soup before serving. You could also save the rind of the cheese and simmer it in the pot beginning in step 1. Just be sure you discard the rind when the soup is done cooking.

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