I have been fighting off a cold for about two weeks now. TWO WEEKS! Every time I think I have it knock, some new symptom rears its ugly head. Today it was fever and chills. Yesterday it was a cough. The day before that was made memorable by a runny nose. It’s like I’m hitting every single steam table at the Cold Symptom Buffet and coming back from another portion.
I am away from the farm right now, which makes me sad in general but I am extra-especially sad now because there is a freezer chocked full of my homemade chicken soup there. I am a big believer in spending a half day in the fall making a gallon of so of chicken soup and freezing it small, sick-person serving sizes. Because, when you are sick, the last thing you want to do it make chicken soup from scratch.
By stocking the freezer with soup, I am doing myself (and everyone who has to listen to me complain) a giant favor. The Sick Me thanks the Think-Ahead, Whiz-Bang Chicken Soup Maker Me for being so gosh darn thoughtful.
The trouble is, this time Whiz-Bang Chicken Soup Maker Me got the location wrong.
Since I do not want this terrible fate to befall Future Sick You, I am re-posting my recipe for The Best Chicken Soup in the Universe today. In addition to it’s restorative powers, this soup is madly delicious.
Sick You will thank me later.
This soup is also dead easy to make and doesn’t ever require homemade chicken stock to be sublime, although homemade stock would make it even…um…sublimer. I didn’t have time for it to thaw. I used boxed stock. So sue me!
First make a mirepoix. Mirepoix is two parts diced onions, one part diced carrots, one part diced celery. I used two medium yellow onions, four carrots and four celery stalks.
Gently sautee’ your mirepoix in your largest dutch oven or soup pot. Cook over medium-low heat until they are softened by not mushy.
When the mirepoix is softened, add the leaves from three or four sprigs of thyme, the chopped leaves of one rosemary stalk and lots and lots of garlic. I usually mince an entire head of garlic for this soup but I didn’t have time for all that fiddly chopping this time, so I used an entire tube of concentrated garlic paste. You can used jarred minced garlic, although I think it is a poor substitute for the real deal. Garlic, rosemary and thyme all have medical properties, which is why they are the flavor stars of this soup.
Since we want to make enough soup to portion and freeze, we’re going big! Add three 48 ounces boxes of low sodium chicken stock to your pot and raise the heat to medium high.
You can either roast a chicken on your own or buy rotisserie chicken at the market. If you go the rotisserie route, be sure to get an unflavored chicken, i.e. not bar-b-que or lemon flavored.
Shred the the entire chicken with your hands, discarding the skin this will seem like a lot of chicken but that’s kind of the idea. I like my chicken soup packed. Add the chicken to your soup pot.
Okay, here’s secret ingredient number one. Have you ever wondered why restaurant chicken soup is so much better than yours? Here’s why. In restaurant parlance, it’s called chicken base and now you can get it at the supermarket. Stir a HEAPING tablespoon of chicken base to your soup pat. [I actually great prefer More Than Gourmet Classic Roasted Chicken Stock to Better than Bouillon but my grocery store doesn't carry it. I stock up when I'm in Charlottesville or Baltimore but Better than Bouillon is a perfectly good substitute. What isn't a good substitute is bouillon cubes! Don't be tempted to toss a couple of those in- too salty and too weird tasting. If you find Glace de Poulet, stir into the soup exactly the way I did here, ignoring the package directions.]
Let your soup simmer until thoroughly heated, 20 minutes or so.
Secret number two to the best chicken soup is to cook the noodles in a separate pot of water only when you are ready to serve. Yes, it’s another pot to watch but trust me, it’s entirely worth it. Most chicken soup suffers from mushy, over-cooked noodles and it is entirely unnecessary. The other benefit of cooking the noodles separately is that you aren’t limiting yourself to only noodle soup. Sometimes I like to add wild rice to this soup, or even couscous. In this case, I used super-wide egg noodles.
When you’re ready to eat, simply add your noodles to the bowl and then ladle in the soup.
Tuck the rest away in portion-sized containers for a day when you are too under the weather to feed yourself.