Yesterday I rolled out of bed with the best intentions of turning the chicken stock I’d made the previous day into a delicious soup for lunch. But first I took the dog to the dog beach, which turned into chasing my 22lb. boston terrier across the beach as she made a break for the pier. And then that turned into a time-out for Jackie the wonder dog. And then I had to rinse the sand off of her before we climbed into the car. And then I had to spray her down in the backyard just to be able to bring her inside the house to give her a proper bath (where is all this sand coming from?). All the meanwhile, she is snorting and defecating and vomiting salt-water mucus everywhere. No, she wasn’t sick, she’s just really gross. And I firmly believe that she has been sent by the universe to prepare me for being a parent. Not entirely, just a little preview into how difficult and fun and disgusting that will someday be.
So, needless to say, the soup was pushed back until well-beyond when regular people eat supper. But it turned out great! I used the stock I’d made from boiling a spent chicken carcass and two bay leaves in a pot of water for the better part of the day before (using my pasta insert so I could lift the bones/skin/leaves out without straining such a massive volume of liquid), and added veggies and seasoning and chicken tenderloins cut into cubes (with my trusty poultry shears–it’s really the best way to cut chicken). I had been craving chicken and dumpling soup but, obviously, that wasn’t in the cards (since I’m doing the Whole30 for January) so I added a little tapioca flour mixed into a few cups of broth to the pot to give the soup that milky, stew-ish look. This all worked out great because today I woke up with a cold. Voice raspy, headachy, cranky, congested. At least I have half a gallon of leftover soup to nurse me back to health.
So, in light of my present condition, here is the least specific chicken soup recipe ever written. Because…whatever…I’m going back to bed.
Unspecific Chicken Soup
Large pot/stock pot of chicken stock (homemade or not)
5-7 carrots, peeled and diced
4-5 parsnips, peeled and diced (Don’t leave these out! They add a sweetness to the soup.)
1-2 sweet onions, diced
4-5 stalks of celery, diced
small handful of basil leaves, cut into ribbons
5-10 garlic cloves (depending on preference), minced
1-2 lbs of chicken (breast, thighs, whatever you have on hand) cut into 1″ cubes
Kosher/sea salt & black pepper to taste
[Optional] a few shakes of red pepper
[Optional] a few shakes of kelp*
[Optional] a few tablespoons of tapioca starch (or potato starch if you eat potatoes)
Spinach cut into strips
*Kelp is a great natural source of iodine and a salt-substitute. I was skeptical but have been concerned that we weren’t getting enough iodine since we stopped using table salt in favor of more delicious salts. We bought a little shaker for something like $3 at Whole Foods and it’s been a really easy way to add sea-plants to our diet and it has almost no flavor at all.
Heat the chicken stock in your giant stock pot over medium-high heat and add all the veggies (EXCEPT the spinach), chicken, basil, garlic, salt & pepper, red pepper, and kelp. Less is more and, if after the chicken is fully cooked and you think the broth needs more seasoning, go for it. We like a hot and heavy soup loaded with veg and spices (especially garlic and red pepper).
If you want to give your soup that creamy, come-hither look, mix a few tablespoons of tapioca flour in a bowl with some of your soup stock–you can either use a whisk, adding a little flour at a time, or an immersion blender. It should look kind of like gravy. Mix your soup-gravy slowly into the soup and it should look a little richer. This is not at all necessary for the flavor of the soup but I find it satiates the part of my brain that’s been conditioned since birth to enjoy milky-looking things.
Once you have ladled the soup into individual bowls, add small handfuls of spinach to the top and allow to wilt slightly before digging in.
And that’s it! Homemade soup can be so easy, why subject yourself to BPA-lined cans, tons of sodium, mystery flavor enhancers, etc. when you can make soup for an army just by chopping up some veggies? This soup also freezes well so make a bunch and freeze some for the next time you start to get that tickle in your throat.