Remember that chicken soup I mentioned the other day? So good.
Homemade soup is so ridiculously easy to make that every time I make it, I wonder why I don't make it all the time. I always think: maybe that's my thing, maybe I should just make soup all the time. Cause it's easy. And you get to use up all your old veggies. And it's good. And good for you. 4 points for me becoming the new soup nazi! Woot!
Anyhoozy, here's what I did to make yummy, fresh chicken soup. Feel free to try this at home. In fact, I encourage it. And don't worry if you don't have all this stuff. It's okay, 'cause it's soup. And it's impossible to screw up soup. No, I mean it. Impossible.
Oh, and sorry for the lack of photos. I didn't chronicle every step of this with gorgeous, bright shots, a la smitten kitchen or the pioneer woman (both cooking sites are super fun, btw). But, if you read this blog for the photos, then, um, really?
I did find some good shots on flickr that I use throughout this post. They aren't photos of my soup. But my soup is that pretty, really. Next time I'll take a picture.
What you need:
Some chicken - I know, this isn't an exact amount, you really just need chicken on the bone. Martha says you need a whole 3-4 pound chicken cut in this precise way into 8 pieces. We had taken about 10 pieces of leg and thigh out of the freezer for the bbq-that-never-happened-because-I-got-sick and I used that. It was FINE. Use what you have.
Some veggies - Again, use what you've got. I used carrots, celery, zucchini, and a small onion I found in the back of the fridge. And some parsley that was about to go to the dark side. Peel the carrots and chop everything. That's all.
Some spices - I used peppercorn, sea salt, and thyme. If you have a bay leaf, toss that in too. If not, no worries.
Water - Are you starting to think, really? Is it that easy? YES.
Time - It does take some time, but you don't have to stand at the stove all afternoon. Next time you're hanging out around the house, make some soup. It's highly rewarding.
What to do:
You need to start by making the stock. Essentially to make a stock, you just boil the crap out of everything and it becomes magically delicious.
Add about 6 cups of water to the chicken (just enough to cover -- you can always add more water later), the chopped onion, 1-2 chopped, pealed carrots, 1-2 chopped celery stalks, about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns and 1/2 tsp of thyme, and some fresh parsley. Bring to a boil and then lower heat so stock simmers.
About 15 minutes in, you need to start checking the doneness of the chicken. Since raw chicken creeps me out, I used a meat thermometer. The thermometer should read about 165 when it's ready, and the chicken will cook a little more when you actually make the soup. As the chicken gets done, pull it out of the pot and put into a dish to cool. Keep simmering.
After the chicken cools, you want to discard the skin and pull all the meat off the bones. You can just put the meat into the fridge at this point. All the bones go back in the pot, which has been simmering this whole time. How long? I don't know -- it's soup, so it's fine!
Once all the bones have been returned to the pot, simmer for about an hour. NOTE: at this point in the evening, I started to watch a movie, (Made of Honor, it was cute) which made me ignore the soup. To the point that I had the stove turned up too high and almost all the water evaporated out, leaving me with bones, veggies and a super thick kinda-burning chicken goop. And, you know what? I just added a ton more water and everything was great. But, if you don't have to do that, it's probably good too :)
Oh, and periodically while this is cooking, you'll need to skim the foam off the top. That's the fatty part, but it's bad fat, not good fat. I skimmed and just put the fat into an orange juice can. And then when Tim came home, I asked if he wanted to drink the fat to prove how much he loved me. He didn't.
Now you need to strain the stock. Remove and discard all solids.
I know this shot doesn't have anything to do with soup, but I found it on flickr and had to share: tatertot casserole? How yummy does that sound?!?!
*Ahem* When you're ready to make the soup, add enough water to get liquid volume back up to about 6 cups. Toss in a couple more chopped carrots and celery stalks. And I had zucchini so I threw that in too. Add the chicken from the fridge. Bring back to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
We had some cooked egg noodles in the fridge, so I tossed them in too. I never make the right amount of pasta when I cook, so we almost always have extra cooked pasta in the fridge. It's perfect for something like this.
Simmer for about 20 minutes. Periodically check the saltiness and add salt and fresh pepper as needed.
Eat and enjoy!
Really, that's all.
Next, I want to try chicken tortilla soup. I loves me some chicken tortilla soup!
photo credits, from top: Robert Couse-Baker, roland, madaise, and adactio.