In the cold winter months, my cooking is all about comfort foods. Not only do they make you feel good, but when you’re snowed in or it’s just too cold to go outside, I think it’s fun to spend a day cooking some nice soup or stew over the stove in large quantities so it makes multiple meals for weeks!
Soup also freezes really well, so when you make a nice big pot, you can immediately freeze half of it for dinners in a few weeks or a month– doing this really makes you feel like it’s worth all the time you put in to make it in the first place, because you get to enjoy it for so long afterward!
I admit, this was my first try at making a chicken soup, including stock, from scratch. I was a little nervous when I began, assuming I’d screw something up along the way. But honestly, while it was a lot of work and I can’t say it was easy, if you follow good directions it’s really not super hard… and the results are well worth it!
Since I had never made a chicken soup before, I searched long and hard for a good recipe I could use as a base. I found a great one on the Food Network website courtesy of Tyler Florence. I made very few tweaks since this was my first chicken soup, and was very pleased with the result… I would make this exact recipe again any time!
The recipe is split into 2 parts: the stock first, and the soup second. The stock needs to be finished before you can start with the soup part, so the recipe should be followed as it reads below, from start to finish. Of course, if you’re looking for a quicker solution, you can buy a box of pre-made chicken stock, and start with the Soup recipe below, using the boxed stock in place of the homemade stock. This will cut a good 1-2 hours off of your prep time!
Chicken Stock Recipe
- 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
- 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
- 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
- 1 large white onion, quartered
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.
Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.
Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.
Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
- 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles (or any type of pasta you have on hand- I used gemelli)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
I was very pleased with the results of my first-ever completely from scratch chicken soup, and I will absolutely be making it again sometime. Another benefit of making the stock from scratch is that now I have a lot of extra already-cooked chicken so I can make even more quick dinners, or freeze it for another time. Since it’s already been cooked, another thing I can do is make it into a casserole and freeze it so I have a really easy made-ahead meal for some night that I get home late from work or I’m too busy to prepare a meal from scratch.
Do you have a favorite soup recipe or any tips/tricks to making soups from scratch? Share your ideas with me in the comments!