When it comes to simplicity in a weeknight meal, you can’t get make anything much easier than chicken soup. And making it homemade is really – no, really – much easier than you think.
You don’t need chicken stock; you don’t need expensive noodles. All you need are five core ingredients, and then whatever else you like, whether it’s what you already have lying around in the pantry or what you plan to pick up at the grocery over the weekend.
Simply sweating down vegetables (the term refers to cooking vegetables over low heat until they gently “sweat” out the moisture within) and using dark meat chicken are the keys to a flavorful stock and soup that you can then garnish a million ways.
Everyone who is even a novice cook has onions, carrots and celery lying around their kitchen, along with a can of tomatoes, hopefully. All you need is chicken – dark meat is best for this soup since it will contribute the most flavor to the stock – and you’ll have dinner, from start to finish, in a little over an hour, with very little attention given to even cooking the soup.
When it comes to garnishes, that’s where the fun comes in. For this version, I went with Mexican condiments (cilantro; crema, the Mexican version of crème fraîche; avocado; radishes), but you could easily sprinkle over some curry powder and toasted cashews for an Indian flair, fresh-grated ginger and chiles for a more Asian-inspired soup, or toss in egg noodles during the last few minutes of cooking for that time-honored classic.
To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.
Chicken Soup, Your Way
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, or a combination of both, preferably with skin on
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 can (15-ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
Garnishes: Cubed avocado, red radishes, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, crema or sour cream…or any garnishes you have around your kitchen that you want to use!
- Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally over the chicken. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Add the carrot, celery and onion, and cook, stirring everything together occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to look translucent and tender. Add the can of tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or so until they are cooked down slightly.
- Add enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches and bring to a gently simmer; cook, stirring everything together occasionally, until the chicken is falling off the bone, and very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season your soup with salt and pepper. Divide the chicken, broth and vegetables among serving bowls, and go crazy with the garnishes!
Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.