Sunday, February 24, 2013

Homemade Chicken Soup

My husband got sick recently, so I decided to make him some chicken soup from scratch. The canned stuff, while convenient, just isn't as good. Unfortunately, just after I decided to make the soup, I realized I didn't have any chicken with bones or any chicken stock on hand.

After some very unhelpful Googling about whether or not I could make a decent chicken soup from scratch using just chicken pieces without bones, I thought I would just roll the dice and give it a try. I did have a can of chicken noodle soup on standby, in case it didn't work.

The soup actually turned out surprisingly well, and the broth had a lot of flavour to it, so I didn't need to cook the canned stuff after all. I like for soup to be a meal, so if there is a lot of meat or veggies or pasta in it, I'm happy. This soup fit the bill - there were lots of chicken pieces and tender carrots in each spoonful. If you're not a fan of a lot of "stuff" in your soup, you could just have the broth. The chicken was flavourful enough after cooking that you could just take it out of the soup and toss it in a separate dish, like some pasta.

The key was to add as much flavour at every step of the process as possible to make up for the lack of the flavour that would have come from the chicken bones or broth. That's why I chose to use chicken thighs rather than breasts and tried to add aromatic ingredients like the bay leaves, garlic and onions. This recipe is proof that if you don't have any chicken bones, stock or even bouillion handy, you can still make a really tasty chicken soup. I'm so happy this worked out!

  • 6 chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary, finely chopped
  • Green onions to taste for garnishing, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Since you will be browning the chicken, you will want to increase the surface area available to be browned to maximize the flavour.

I also recommend cooking the chicken in the pot that you will be cooking the soup in so that the brown bits left over from cooking the chicken make it into the soup. Those brown bits are full of flavour, so don't leave them out! If you can't cook the chicken directly in the pot, then when you are done cooking the chicken and have removed it from the pan, splash a little bit of water in the pan right away while it's still hot and scrape up the brown bits from the pan and add them to the soup pot.

Saute the chicken pieces in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Get as much of the surface area of the chicken browned as possible. If your pan isn't big enough to hold all of the chicken at once, cook the chicken in batches so that you don't bring the temperature of the pan so low that you prevent the chicken from searing well. If you pack the pan too full, the chicken will just boil instead - not a good way to add flavour to it.

Once the chicken is browned, remove it to a separate dish. Add the onions, garlic and carrots to the pot and cook them until they are softened and fragrant. I didn't have any celery in the fridge, otherwise I would have added it. Feel free to chop some up and add it for some more flavour if you've got it.

Return the chicken to the pot. Add the bay leaves and rosemary to the pot. Add water to the pot until it reaches about an inch above the contents. Add more if you'd like, but just be careful not to dilute it too much or you'll lose the flavour of the soup. It may be safer to add more liquid only after you've allowed the soup to simmer and have tasted it.

Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.

I usually like to put pasta in my soup, though I didn't do it this time. If you want to add some, I'd recommend small pasta, like ditalini. If you add pasta, do it at this step in the process and add some more water to compensate for the liquid that the pasta will use up in cooking.

Continue to simmer the soup for another 10 minutes or so, or until the pasta you have added (if any) is cooked al dente. Remove the bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the green onions.


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  1. There is nothing like homemade. I love soup and chicken soup is one of my favorites -- especially homemade like this one. Delish!!!!

    1. It's so true. Homemade food tastes so much better that I think it's well worth the extra time and effort - and most of the time it's probably healthier too! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Your chicken soup looks wonderful! Nothing like a bowl of homemade soup! One of the greatest comforts in life!!!

    1. Thanks! It's probably the top of the list when it comes to comfort food. We'll probably have it at least a few more times before winter is over.

  3. That is a delicious looking bowl of chicken soup!

    1. Thanks! It was definitely one of tastier soups I've made. So nice to have in the middle of winter.


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