Kaela’s Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is pure comfort food.  Everyone has their favorite recipe and most have strong opinions; rice, pasta, or potatoes, peas or no peas, homemade stock or canned.  I’ve made this recipe for years – the original was from a lovely little cookbook called For Goodness’ Sake by Terry Joyce Blonder (unfortunately, now out of print).  My adaptation does change with the seasons and depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge.  My fiance likes what he calls “chicken shtoup;” when I add lots of Jasmine rice and the broth thickens to the point of gravy.  But the basic recipe, and the one that I make most often, is presented below; the recipe is large and yields enough soup to enjoy for a few days with some to spare for the freezer.

When I run out of my homemade stock, or don’t have time to make stock specifically for soup, I do use Better than Bouillon, an organic chicken base in a jar (that at least has “chicken meat & juices” as the first ingredient, but still contains 750mg salt per 8 oz of stock) which you can find at most organic or whole foods markets.  Nevertheless, making your own stock is the way to go, whenever you can. 

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Kaela’s Chicken Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • about 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 4 large carrots, scrubbed, peeled if necessary, sliced
  • 6 ribs celery, chopped, include leaves if possible
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 – 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley,chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped, or 1 tbsp dried 
  • 3 cups short grain brown rice, cooked (or other grain, see Options)
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • few dashes cayenne pepper & Tabasco sauce

METHODS

  1. Saute garlic, celery, onion and carrot in the oil in a large stock pot.  Cook over low heat until the onion becomes soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Stir often and do not let the onion or garlic brown; between stirrings, keep a lid on the pot.  Add more oil, or a touch of chicken stock, if the vegetables start to stick.
  2. Add chicken to pot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the outside of the chicken begins to turn white.
  3. Add stock, salt, peppers and dried herbs.  Add any other vegetables (see Options). Simmer at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.  If using pasta, add it 10 minutes before serving or it will become mushy. In the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking, add fresh herbs and rice or other grain.
  4. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve hot with crusty bread.

  Serves 8 – 10.

OPTIONS

  1. Grain:  Jasmine rice is very soft and will disintegrate somewhat and thicken the stock to a gravy-like consistency. Brown basmati rice is also nice, it gives a slightly less thick soup than the short-grain brown rice.  Wild rice makes for a fancy soup – if using this, increase the stock by 1-2 cups for a thinner, more ‘formal’ chicken soup.  Whole wheat couscous will do in a pinch, but I find it doesn’t add much to the flavor of the soup.  I’m not a fan of pasta in chicken soup, as it becomes mushy all too easily, especially upon re-heating, however, hearty, whole wheat noodles, rotini or elbows would work the best.  Rice- or Jerusalem artichoke-based pastas are too soft & friable and will disintegrate in the soup.  Often I use this soup as a fridge-clearing exercise and will throw in a little couscous, a little brown rice, a little white rice; whatever I’ve cooked in the last week or so.  Experiment and add as much or as little as you like.
  2. Vegetables:  I like my soup best in it’s “pure” form; carrots, onions, celery & garlic.  However, especially in summer, I will add veg from the CSA that need using up; green beans, peas, broccoli, and summer squash should be added in the last 5 minutes of cooking, to maintain color & crispness. Leeks & scallions can be added to, or substituted for the onion; I find shallots overwhelm the flavor of the soup. Bell peppers get too soggy for me, and leafy greens overwhelm the flavor.  The addition of chopped, fresh tomatoes and fresh cilantro (instead of dill) gives the soup a Mexican flavor that is quite good in the summer months.  I find that potatoes get too mushy; if you like potatoes in your chicken soup, leave the chunks large (1″ or larger) and use waxy potatoes, added in the last 20 minutes of cooking.

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 1 week.  Frozen for approximately 6 months.

SEASON

Year round.

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