As I was typing in the title for this post, I was brought back to all of those Chicken Soup for the ________ Soul books I used to read when I was in Jr. High--OK, and parts of high school. Do you remember those? There's no point in denying it; I used to really like them--a sucker for heart-string-tuggin' stories. Oddly enough, my memories of all of those include my mom buying them for me from Costco. Random.
Anyways, I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while now. Ever since work's picked up, the stand mixer and the crock pot have kind been put on the back burner (sorry, I couldn't help myself). Dave and his friend went mountain biking today, so I had some time to cook and bake.
I was craving soup, so I went to my go-to recipe. Eating chicken soup always reminds me of eating bowls of it as a kid because it was one of my favorite dishes that my mom would make. Now that I'm a married lady, I've been working on finding a recipe of my own (so that my mom's chicken soup will always be my mom's chicken soup :)). This recipe is SO easy to make, and the sky's the limit as far as what you can to put in it. There's no science to it; it's really a few shakes of this--a few shakes of that. I find myself adding new things almost every time. This is a great use-whatever-i've-got-in-the-fridge (or pantry) recipe.
-1 whole chicken
-1 bay leaf
-64 ounces of low-sodium chicken broth (I always end up adding water to make more broth, so add as much as you need as you go--also a good idea for next-day consumption)
-1 large onion, diced
- 1 leek, cleaned well and sliced (optional)
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-3 stalks of celery, sliced
-3 carrot, peeled and chopped
-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
-1 bunch asparagus, chopped
-1 can of kidney beans, drained (you can use whatever beans you enjoy)
-1 can of corn, drained
-1 cup of frozen peas
-lemon or lime wedges
-cumin (a few shakes--so precise, right?)
-dried oregano ("")
-dried thyme ("")
(Again, do not feel as though this is a set-in-stone recipe. It'll taste good even if you don't have everything listed above. Take creative liberties! Some other suggestions: lima beans, diced potatoes, garbanzo beans, green beans, tomatoes, rice, orzo, quinoa, spinach, other greens, etc...)
-Heat the olive oil in the pan. Saute the onions, leeks, carrots, & celery for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Throw in a few shakes of oregano, thyme, and cumin so those spices open up by the heat of the olive oil. Add 1/2 a tsp of salt into the mix (you'll add more later). Throw in the rest of the ingredients into the pot. Bring everything to a boil, and then let it simmer for an hour to an hour and a half (until the chicken is cooked through). Once cooked through, pull the chicken out and shred (I use two forks to get the job done). Once shredded, place the meat back into the pot. At this point, you'll want to taste your soup. Add salt a little bit at a time until you get the flavor you want. To serve, top with some cilantro, a squeeze of lemon or lime into each bowl, and some freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy. Trust me--you will.
P.s. If you're like me and don't have large (5 qt+ dutch oven/pot), you can cut the chicken down to smaller pieces and cook the soup in two pots. You can place the wings & legs into one pot and the rest of the chicken into another. Divvy up the veggies and stock, and you're set. You should be able to combine everything into one large pot once the chicken is shredded.