Did you know that in the 12th century, doctors prescribed those with illnesses broth made from bone marrow and chicken fat? Truly, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same!
Soup is one of the least time intensive and most low effort big-batch meals that humanity could come up with. Whoever decided to take a bunch of vegetables, bones and meat and throw them into a pot of boiling water was a genius. Since we are heading into flu season, and at this point we all just need some comfort, let’s discuss how to make a simple soup. Whether you decide to use chicken and noodles or not is up to you.
One of my favorite aspects of homemade soups and stews is that they are generally very simple and cheap to make, despite the high yield. You don’t even have to add anything besides the stock to make a soup, and depending on the stock, the dish could be fulfilling even without other ingredients. But, that’s simply too boring for this column, so why not add some more ingredients?
If you’re swinging for a chicken soup, I would recommend using three skinless and boneless chicken thighs, a fairly large yellow onion (white is fine as well), one gigantic carrot (or two regular carrots), three-to-four stalks of celery, dried bay leaves, dried oregano, dried thyme and your chicken stock of choice. My personal favorite chicken stocks are Osem’s Consomme, which is a powdered vegetable stock (you really can’t tell), and College Inn chicken stock. If you are making the soup in the way I normally would, then the consomme will cost you $4.50 for a 14.1 oz container at Hannafords (I haven’t found it yet anywhere else), celery will cost around $2.99 per lb, the onions will cost $1.49 per lb, the carrots $0.99 per lb and the chicken thighs $2.99 per lb. The dried herbs will cost more than the other ingredients at prices between $2.99 and $9.00 for some brands, but believe me when I say that the extra flavor is worth the price.
No matter what soup it is, you must always cook the ingredients first because usually the boiling water is just not hot enough. To keep the rendered fat from the chicken in the soup, I would suggest that you cook everything in the pot you are planning to use for the final product. If not, you can always cook and add everything just before you add the water.
First, add about a third of a stick of butter to the pot and let it melt at medium heat before you add the chicken. It should take around ten minutes to fully cook the chicken; you’ll know it’s done when there is no more pinkness. After this, take the chicken out and let it rest on a cutting board for a few minutes. Take your onion, carrots and celery, and dice them fine enough for soup. This is what’s called a “mirepoix” in French (because why not?). Take your newly made French cuisine and add it to the pot, with just enough butter to be able to cook the veggies down. When the onions are translucent and the carrots soften, add your diced or shredded (if you have a preference) chicken back to the pot and pour in eight cups of water. Throw in two bay leaves, about two teaspoons of oregano and one teaspoon of thyme, though you can add more later to taste. Add heat and bring the soup to a boil and after a couple of minutes, add in seven teaspoons of the consomme powder, stirring it in as you go. When fully incorporated, bring the heat down to a medium low heat and let it simmer for at least thirty minutes (though I would let it cook for an hour or more if time allowed). The longer it sits on the heat, the more flavor will balance throughout the pot.
If you want to add a carbohydrate of any kind, I would cook that separately and add it in by serving later or else it might get mushy. For a soup, that will cost you around $5.78 per batch or $0.72 per one cup serving, and you deserve some good noodles to go along with it.