I make this soup often. It seems so ordinary to me, that I don’t really associate it with a recipe, I just make it. But it’s so good, you might want to try making some. There are a few key ingredients that I’ve found make it one of the best chicken soups I’ve ever tasted.
Here’s how I make it.
Start with a rotisserie chicken. Stew it in some water for at least an hour to get all the flavor out of the chicken and into the broth. Remove the bird and bone it (if you wear some of those latex gloves, your fingers won’t smell like chicken the rest of the evening).
If I do this the day before, I like to put the broth in a pitcher or tall container so any fat rises and can be skimmed off when it solidifies when it’s cool. I don’t like fat. (There’s not usually that much.)
Then I put the meat into the broth and start adding stuff. You kind of have to have an idea of how much soup you want to end up with, so you know how much stuff to put in. If you have more meat than you want (for a smaller pot of soup) save some out for other meals.
I always start with celery when I make soups. It’s my favorite ingredient. If you buy a stalk of celery, pick out a dark green one with a lot of leaves on it. there’s more flavor in the leafy ends. Use them. Go heavy on the celery. It’s an invisible vegetable that offends no one.
Onion adds good flavor. Often I use dry onion because it’s easy. If I use fresh onion, I saute it first unless I’m sure it will simmer long enough so it’s not crunchy. I don’t like crunchy onions in my soups.
Other vegetables that belong in chicken soup:
Carrots. If the carrots are fresh and beautiful, I don’t peel them because there is so much flavor in the peel. If they are old and look scary, I peel them.
Corn. Canned or frozen.
Green beans. Fresh at Costco these days, or canned if you must.
Potatoes or noodles. I like both but not at the same time. If I use noodles, I like egg noodles, not the thick heavy ones that are long and hard to eat with a spoon. I cook the noodles separately, then add them so all that starchy stuff that’s in the boiling water doesn’t end up in the soup.
If I use potatoes, cube them. Keep the skins on if you like the skins. I do. More flavor. I often use the red potatoes because the skins are clean and the cubes don’t turn to mush like russets.
Now comes the important part: FLAVOR. The soup needs flavor. Start with chicken bullion. Get the wet bullion like they sell in jars at Costco. Add enough to make it taste good. Next add Poultry Seasoning. This is important. When you smell it, you’ll know why. Sage and other herbs. You must add this. Then Mrs. Dash. I put that in just about everything I make that has vegetables in it. Be generous. Then salt and pepper to taste.
Now the next important thing is that the broth needs BODY. Add Cream of Chicken Soup. The concentrate. Don’t add more water. This will thicken the broth and add flavor. In a small pot for a small family, add one can and decide if you want more. In a large pot for lots of people, I usually add about 3 cans.
If you have people with gluten issues, instead of the Cream of Chicken Soup, add instant mashed potatoes. Yep. Secret ingredient. I add both. (One year after Thanksgiving I was making turkey soup to finish off the leftovers and I had a huge pot on the stove. I wanted to get rid of the mashed potatoes, so I put a big spoonful into the soup. It disappeared into nothing. I added more and it disappeared. So I dumped the whole pile of potatoes into the soup–maybe 4-6 cups. It was the best soup I’d ever made. You couldn’t tell it had mashed potatoes in it.) Now I add mashed potatoes to most vegetable soups I make. It gives the broth body and flavor and no one knows it’s there.
Usually by the time you’ve finished jazzing up the broth, the vegetables are cooked and the soup is ready to serve. The last thing is fresh parsley. Chop some and add it at the end so it stays green and fresh. It makes a difference.
That’s how I do it. I hope you enjoy this one.