It’s chicken soup, you’ve probably eaten any number of versions; mom’s, dads’, grandma’s, Campbell’s, and theres nothing special about this recipe, other than the fact that everything about chicken soup is special. So, if you’ve never made this classic, I’m here for you, and we can do it together and then you can spread this bowl of love to everyone around you.
As Sean Carter once said, “what more can I say“…about chicken soup? Well, there are a few things that we can talk about when it comes to making a nice, comforting pot of chicken soup, but I’ll just stick to the chicken (if this chicken talk bores you, then just skip ahead to the super simple recipe which follows).
I use a whole chicken for this soup and the thing about a whole chicken is that you can get more chicken flavor the longer you cook it (to a point), but the other thing about that same chicken, is that the longer you cook it, the dryer the actual chicken meat becomes. Now you might be saying, “hey, my chicken meat cant be dry if its swiming around in water!”, and I might say “you’re wrong”, and thats how that conversation might go. Sure the meat is surrounded by liquid but when you end up chewing on a nice meat morsel thats been cooked for three hours, any fat or moisture will have been cooked out, leaving you something very dry and stringy, no good. The other thing about a whole chicken, is that it has much more meat than you will need just for this soup. That means “two meals, one bird…two birds, one stone”, whatever the saying may be, you can use that extra chicken to make this delicious chicken salad that I happen to have written a recipe for.
In a perfect world, you already have some delicous golden chicken stock and you would use that in place of water to perfectly cook your whole chicken. And there you have it, super flavorful chicken soup in no time. If that’s not the case for you, heres what we can do. We’re going to add lots of vegetables and aromatics to cook along with our whole chicken, in essence creating a flavorful vegetable stock (which requires much less time), with nice balance of chickeny flavor as well as nicely cooked chicken meat, all in one step. Whatever you end up doing, you will be making a flavorful broth, followed by the addition of small cuts of vegetables, chicken, noodles, rice, matzo balls, seasoning and whatever else your heart desires.
*Kombu is an edible kelp often used in asian cuisines. You wont get a strong or very distinct flavor if you use it, but it will add some additional depth of flavor and more umami to your soup, a certain je ne sais quoi if you will, and I think you will.
*Skimming scum; do it, and do it often.
*You may also have noticed that this is yet another recipe that basically requires no measurements! You’re welcome! Really easing you guys into it. Right now you’re probably exclaiming, “I can’t even believe how awesome and easy cooking is?!”
- 1 ea Whole Chicken
- 4 ea Carrots, 2 small diced & 2 in large chunks
- 4 ea Celery Ribs, 2 small diced & 2 in large chunks
- 2 ea Yellow Onions, quartered
- 1 bunch Thyme, some leaves reserved for garnish
- 4 ea Garlic Cloves
- 10 ea Whole Black Peppercorns
- 2 ea Bay Leaves
- 1 bunch Parsley, chop and reserve a small handful of leaves
- 1 ea Lemon, halved
- 1 sheet kombu (optional)
- 2 c Peas
- TT Salt & Pepper
- Place whole chicken in a large pot and cover with cold water or stock by about 2 inches.
- Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat then reduce heat to low, such that you have a “lazy bubble”. Skim any scum and oil that rises to the surface.
- Add the large chunks of carrot, celery, onion, as well as thyme, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley, half of the lemon, and kombu if using.
- Very gently poach for 45 minutes to an hour, continuously skimming any scum that rises to the top.
- remove chicken to a bowl and allow to cool enough that you can remove all of the meat from the bones. I prefer a shredded chicken in my soup but you may also dice or add individual cuts, leg, thigh, etc. (I believe that a whole chicken has far too much meat for one pot of soup, so I would suggest saving at least half to use in another dish, like chicken salad perhaps).
- Strain your soup, and return to the pot (feel free to use those cooked carrots and celery either in your soup or for another purpose).
- Return your soup to a simmer then add the peas, diced carrot and celery and simmer for 3-10 minutes depending on how soft you like your veg.
- Finally, add your desired amount of chicken, taste and season your soup with salt, cracked pepper, lemon juice, chopped parsley and thyme. Serve as is or over noodles, rice, matzo balls, etc.