More times than not, time is not on our side. We are pulled in so many different directions that our head spins, and we are hanging on to our sanity by our fingertips. As a culturally Jewish woman, and lover of cooking, you would think I would have made chicken soup, a.k.a Jewish Penicillin, my whole life. But no, I’ve avoided making my own chicken soup or stock until the last couple of years since it always felt like such a large undertaking, messy and time consuming. And most days, I simply don’t have the time or energy for that kind of nonsense.
But this soup is the quick and dirty method. It’s the “My whole family is sick, and I don’t have an ounce of energy,” un-recipe. It’s the scrape by and get it done method that will always get you a big pot of delicious, home made, fortifying chicken soup. Yes, it requires the grocery store unless you have a whole chicken lying around, but other than that and perhaps carrots and celery, you should have all of your ingredients on hand.
I’m lucky enough to have a small local market with a butcher at my disposal so when my wisdom teeth were pulled Friday, and Saturday rolled around, I dragged my chipmunk cheeked self there, bought a whole “roaster” cut up (a fryer will work too), a package of carrots and celery, and an onion. Everything else, I had on hand and most pantries do as well.
As I happily sipped my soup all day, I thought to myself, “I must blog this. I must share this method in case you are in need.” In case you are like me and are a bit daunted by making a pot yourself. Give it a go, and let me know if you found it to be very do-able because that’s what I’m goin’ for.
Quick and Dirty Home Made Chicken Soup
30 Minutes Prep Time and 1-1.5 hours of cooking time. You will need a large stock pot for this recipe (at least 6 qt), and one whole chicken cut up (the back really is a nice piece to add to any soup so it’s important to get that if you can).
3 large Carrots, washed and peeled
3 large Celery stalks, washed
1 peeled onion
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
1+ tablespoon salt (more as needed to taste)
1-2+ teaspoons pepper (to taste)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Water for pot
Here are the fast and easy steps. It should only take about 30 minutes of actual elbow grease. And if you only have 20 minutes of energy and prep time, then feel free to skip Step 1(baking the chicken breasts), and just throw those guys into the soup with the other pieces. You will need a large stock pot for this recipe.
- Turn your oven on to 350 degrees F. Season your chicken breasts to your liking. I use salt, garlic powder, tarragon and thyme (all dried). Put those guys in a spray coated baking dish, cover with foil, and bake 40 minutes or until meat is not pink. Remove foil at 20 minutes. Cooking time depends on the size. The reason I roast the breasts is to keep them juicy and moist for the soup. This way they don’t over cook in the soup pot. Chopped up, they get added to the soup when it’s done cooking.
- Chop your three large carrots and celery by lining them up next to each other and chop all three at once. See photo in post.
- I don’t prefer bits of onion in my soup but want the broth flavored with it. I peel and cut my onion in half and throw it into the pot as-is. If you would prefer chopped onion in your soup, then chop 1/2 your onion. You will use both your chopped and 1/2 onion to put into the soup.
- Pour a little olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) straight into your pot and turn stove on medium high.
- Toss in the carrots, celery and onion.
- Toss in a bay leaf.
- Add your chicken pieces that are left (thighs, drums, wings, and back).
- Add salt (about 1 tablespoon), pepper (about 1 teaspoon), dried thyme (about 1-2 teaspoons) and stir. I eyeball everything. No washing measuring spoons later!
- Stir and let chicken sizzle a little before turning chicken over with tongs.
- Pour water into the pot until 3/4 full, making sure everything in the pot is submerged (water should be about about 2 inches above contents of pot). Stir.
- Cook on medium heat until simmering, turn down to a low simmer for 45 minutes or more depending on the time you have for the soup to cook. Do not cover! I usually let mine cook for 1-1.5 hours on a low simmer. You should see bubbles consistently coming up, but it should not boil. Every so often check on your soup; stir and skim the top if there is any white foam, removing the foam.
- Take chicken breasts out of the oven when done. Check for doneness by cutting into one breast and looking to see that it is not pink. Then cut your breasts away from the bones, and throw the roasted bones into your simmering soup.
- Remove the skin and chop up the breast into bite-sized soup pieces and refrigerate.
- After 45 minutes (or longer), take the pot off the burner and let sit for 15 minutes. Then remove chicken pieces from your soup and separate the bones from the chicken. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. I cook my soup 1-1.5 hours if I have time.
- Ladle soup through a strainer into a large storage/serving bowl that can be used to store the soup making sure that the bay leaf was removed. These are chokable.
- Put chicken pieces (both the refrigerated bites and the chicken from the pot) and carrots and celery back into soup. Taste soup and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Store or eat soup right away. If you are storing the soup, after you have refrigerated it for a couple of hours, skim the top and remove fat that has risen to the top.
I like to store my leftovers in mason jars and freeze (up to two months) what we will not eat in the next 1-2 days. Home made chicken soup lasts about three days in the fridge, and nothing in the world is better when you’re sick than knowing you have a jar at the ready in the freezer. To defrost quickly, leave out on the counter at room temp for one hour then put in fridge or defrost in the microwave without the lid. Or, put the frozen jar into the fridge overnight and it will defrost.