Magical Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is a crucial life skill.
My younger cousin, newly graduated from college, recently asked me for my chicken soup recipe. I make a big pot of chicken soup every Sunday and eat it for pretty much every dinner during the week. Chicken soup has everything you need--a nice balance of carbs, fiber, and protein. It's cheap and easy to make, store, and reheat. You can use different vegetables and grains, herbs, and seasonings. You can freeze leftovers. And, as I found out recently during a horrendous sore throat monster virus thing this week, there is a reason that chicken soup pops up in different forms throughout the world as theraflu in a bowl--it truly does medicinal wonders for the body whether you are healthy or sick.
Here is the express version of my chicken soup, which is inexpensive and quickly doled out into portions for weeknights when you don't have much time.
Get a big pot on the stove, coat the bottom with olive oil, and put the heat on medium.
Chop 2-4 carrots, 2-4 celery stalks, 1 big onion or a few leeks, and a few cloves of garlic, depending on your tastes.
Throw the mixture into the pan and move it around until the veggies start to soften. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add more olive oil if you need to. I like to add a big shake of Herbs de Provence or thyme.
Once the veggies are soft, pour in 1.5-2 cartons of chicken broth (each carton is 4 cups). If you are really fancy, you can make your own deliciously amazing chicken broth using the recipe from my post on roasting a whole chicken. In my opinion, Trader Joe's has the best tasting store-bought broth.
Throw in a handful of barley (or wild rice or whatever grain you want). A handful doesn't look like much, but it will expand quite a bit.
Throw in a package of chicken tenders, chicken thighs, chicken breasts--whatever.
Other additions to try:
Lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
A big handful or two of chopped kale
A bay leaf or two
Makes sure you taste frequently as you add salt to get the saltiness level just right--that is key!
Let simmer for as long as you can stand so the chicken gets slow-cooked and is easily pulled apart.
That's it! I cook and store the soup in my grandmother's beautiful cast iron dutch oven and just take out portions throughout the week as needed. What you don't eat, you can freeze!
Sometimes, throughout the week, the broth to solid items will get skewed. I usually keep some broth so I add if needed. Otherwise, it will turn to chicken stew (which is fine too!)