I was a little under the weather last week and really needed some good old-fashioned chicken soup. As you may have heard, chicken soup is supposed to help cure the common cold or at least alleviate some of the suffering. Over the years there have been studies about chicken soup’s alleged healing properties and from what I can gather it’s a combination of certain things: cold fighting compounds in the chicken and carrots; the hot liquid which…um loosens things up; and vitamins and nutrients in the broth which make easier for the body to absorb. Of course I wasn’t really thinking of the science behind it all, I just wanted some homemade chicken soup to make me feel better.
Normally, we’ll have some chicken soup in the days following a roast chicken dinner but since I had no roasted chicken carcass I decided to just get some chicken leg quarters and make the stock with them instead. This way I also had a lot more chicken meat and since I was using whole legs the meat wouldn’t dry out like chicken breast. It proved very economical too since two packages of chicken legs were less than $4.00. A few carrots, couple of onions, and some celery are pretty much the only remaining ingredients you really need for this basic soup. All in all I figured this particular pot of chicken soup cost about $7.00, or 70¢ a serving. Makes you realize there’s quite the mark-up on that cup of chicken soup you get for lunch! I know, I know, there are other costs involved but the actual ingredients can cost very little, but seriously $4 for a cup of soup?
Chicken soup is the one soup everyone should learn how to make. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, if you learn how to make a soup from scratch you pretty much have the blueprint for just about any soup on earth. Looking back through my posts I couldn’t believe I hadn’t written one on chicken soup. I think maybe it’s because sometimes I feel certain common dishes (like chicken soup) have been done so much they’re a dime-a-dozen on the internet and everyone’s mom’s or grandmother’s is always the best. But I do make a good chicken soup, and making it this way was total divergence from my normal technique and the innovation worked well. What’s that about necessity and invention? While I’m certain this chicken leg method isn’t new, it was for me. It gave me my chicken soup in a relatively short time (didn’t have to roast a chicken!) and was delicious. And yes, it also made me feel much much better.
Homemade Chicken Soup (makes about 10 servings)
For the stock
- 4 whole chicken legs
- 1 carrot, cut into 4-5 pieces
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 1 rib of celery, cut into 4-5 pieces
- 8 parsley sprigs
Place the chicken legs, carrot, onion, celery, and parsley in a large pot and fill with water so that it covers the chicken by at least an inch.
Place pot on stove bring to a boil over med-high heat. When it boils reduce to simmer and simmer for 75-90 minutes.
Remove chicken legs and set aside to cool.
Strain liquid through cheesecloth or wire sieve.
When the legs have cooled enough to handle, pull the meat off of the bones and shred or dice.
Skim off fat.
For the soup
- 2 ½ Quarts (10 C) of your freshly made stock (if short add some water)
- 2 carrots, small dice
- 1 onion, small dice
- 1 celery rib, small dice
- ½-¾ C orzo , or small pasta, or rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Shredded or diced chicken meat from the chicken legs
Pour the strained and de-greased stock back into the large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat on the stove.
Add the chicken, vegetables and orzo, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables and pasta are cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper.