With confidence, I can say I have made chicken soup all over the world, for many of its peoples. I believe it is a dish that can cure colds, warm hearts and generally make people smile. The aroma is heavenly, it warms entire homes and draws people from corners of the house. When we dropped our daughter at university in London, I made chicken soup in her apartment. Newly moved to South Africa, more soup. As winter approaches bringing sniffles and cool nights, chicken soup is on the table. Chicken Soup solves problems, it can lead to harmony and possibly world peace. Okay, I may be overselling it, but it is more than a food – it is an elixir. It takes very little in the way of kitchen requirements, skill can range from low to high, and presentation can be rustic to elegant.
Often this soup will follow a day or two after roasted chicken, using the remains of the chicken. Or it can consume a whole fresh chicken. I find the soup much more delicate with a whole chicken, but excellent with the leftover as well. It keeps well, so makes as much as you like.
There’s not a lot more comforting than a bowl of homemade chicken soup – our chicken soup recipes include everything from restorative broths to a secret ingredient - mothers love.
- The trinity or mirepoix is where we start.
- 3 ribs of celery roughly chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped or a good handful of those small snack carrots
- ½ a yellow onion roughly chopped
- Bouquet Garni
- A good handful of parsley and 10 or so thyme sprigs tied in the center
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 whole chicken cleaned all skin and fat removed, or the remains of a roasted chicken, skin removed
- 2-3 boxes of low sodium organic chicken broth
- A good splash of white wine
- 2 celery ribs curved backs peeled, julienned into 1.5 inches (4cm) strips
- 2 carrots peeled julienned into 1.5 inches (4cm) strips
- ½ an onion julienned into 1.5-inch 4cm strips
- 10-15 Haricot verts or green beans peeled cut into 1.5 inches (4cm) pieces
- ¼ cup 32 g orzo pasta
- Chicken stripped from the bones after the broth is done
- Salt to taste
In a large stock pot or pressure cooker, sweat with a small dash of olive oil on low heat. (Sweating is merely warming the mirepoix gently to open the flavors, not browning or sautéing). When you begin to smell the mirepoix place the whole chicken on top, set bouquet garni and bay leave on the side of the chicken, cover with broth but leave the appropriate room or headspace in the pot to save boil overs, or safely pressure cook. Add a good glug of white wine ½ a glass, I recommend you drink the remainder of that glass.
Bring to boil, cover reduce heat to a slow simmer. Simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Bring to a boil, cover, and place in a 200 f degree oven (94 c) for 2-4 hours. This method is great if you cannot pay attention to the broth.
Pressure Cooker Method
Cover, seal, bring to pressure for 20 min. Remove from heat rest under pressure for 20-30. Carefully release pressure.
Strain the broth reserving the chicken meat. Moving so much broth from pot A to Pot B is a tad difficult if you cannot navigate this transfer pouring through a strainer, or chinos. Then remove the chicken onto a cookie sheet, and as much of the veg, as possible with a slotted spoon. The bouquet and bay leaves should just lift out with a fork or tongs. Discard the veg and greens, they have given their all. This is not a clarified broth, it is more rustic, so it will be cloudy. You can cool the broth at this point or save it.
Bring the broth a back to a rolling boil, I like to boil mine for 15 minutes or so to intensify the flavor. Then add all the veg, boil for 9 minutes, add uncooked orzo, boil for 6 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Place a small handful of the roughly shredded chicken in each serving bowl, and ladle the soup on top, and serve.
On the table, we typically have chili sherry and oyster crackers.
RANDOMLY TALKING CHICKEN At more elegant affairs I tend to serve a more clarified broth, I bake the broth with a whole fresh chicken for such occasions. In addition, I make the julienne longer and thinner. Add a mushroom or two exceptionally thinly sliced. Reduce the chicken allotment by half, and add no pasta, sometimes a small diced peeled red potato can be elegant. The goal is more broth than veg. In those winter months for a smaller party, I like to double the pasta in the soup, or potato. Make it thicker. I like free range chicken and broth, seems more ethical. if you are a Portlandia fan, you will understand why I talk about the chicken and his friends as I walk around the kitchen as I make this soup. WHAT IS A CHINOIS? ‘When we lived in South Africa I bought a chinois, I remember Marc and Ivan took me to a restaurant supply store near the Old Biscuit Mill, it was heaven, with one catch it was for businesses only. Luckily, at the time they were running a B&B so I was playing the part of the “New Chef” at 79 on Orange. I kitted out my entire kitchen like a pro. A chinois is perhaps the greatest device for straining you can imagine. Amazon sells them if you can get one do and with a stand.
There are three methods to make the soup; simmer, bake and pressure cooker. It’s really a matter of time you want to spend and the equipment you have.