this isn't cake! recipe 001: mom's chicken soup

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if I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be soup. more specifically, my mom’s soup.

growing up, soup or “juha” was the precursor to any home cooked meal. I remember watching in awe as my mom would throw a bunch of vegetables, some kind of protein and broth into a pot and create a delicious, heartwarming soup packed with flavor.

now, I know what you’re thinking: I thought this was a cake blog? why are you talking about soup?

you are correct. BUT, if you’re like me, you tend to lean towards the savory end of the food spectrum. salt + fat are necessary, thus I introduce to you the first recipe in what I will call the “this isn’t cake!” series. it’ll be great, trust me!

a few weeks ago, after I came down with what I deemed as the plague (otherwise known as a really bad cold) I decided that it was time for me to learn how to make “the soup” since the chances of my mom coming over and making it for me were pretty slim.

I rummaged around in our fridge and found a lone chicken breast, celery, carrots, garlic, half of an onion and thyme, threw it into a pot with chicken broth and water and cooked according to my mom’s directions: “when it tastes good and the vegetables are cooked through.” got it. 30 minutes later, I tasted it, and guess what?

it was PRETTY DARN GOOD.

peppery, chicken-y, vegetable-y and everything that I needed to feel nourished and somewhat alive again.

I’ve tested it a few times with different combinations of water/broth and different variations of chicken. I’ve found that using chicken thighs (bone in, not trimmed) creates a deeply flavored broth that isn’t overly rich. if you’re not a fan of chicken thighs, you can certainly use chicken breasts instead and slightly adjust your cooking times.

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Mom’s Chicken Soup
Serves 6-8

for the soup:

3 tablespoons olive oil
16 ounces (1 pound) chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
1 large onion, sliced into thick pieces
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
12 ounces celery (roughly 1/2 stalk), chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
10 ounces carrots (roughly 1/3 of a 2lb bag), trimmed and chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 cups of chicken broth (I use Orrington Farms Broth Base & Seasoning)
3 cups water
Cheesecloth and strainer
Noodles (if desired)

directions:

1. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat
2. While olive oil is heating up, season your chicken tights with the kosher salt, and pepper. don’t be afraid of the salt here!
3. Add sliced onions and smashed garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned
4. Place chicken thighs in stockpot, skin down and cook until crispy (3-4 minutes). Flip and repeat with other side.
5. Add celery, carrots, thyme, chicken broth and water— give it a good stir!
6. Bring broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
7. Simmer broth for 30 minutes, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through
(Note: your broth will look fatty— this is okay! try to refrain from skimming the fat until it’s fully cooked through.)
8. Grab a slightly smaller pot, place the mesh strainer over it and line it with cheesecloth
9. Carefully pour your broth and vegetables through the strainer/cheese cloth; remove chicken and set aside
10. Using a large spoon (or your hands, but be careful! it’s hot!) squeeze as much liquid as you can out of your vegetables
11. Remove skin and bones from your chicken thighs and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces; return to broth
12. Taste your broth and adjust seasoning as desired! I usually end up adding another teaspoon or so of salt and lots of pepper. serve with crackers or crusty bread!

bonus step: If you plan to use noodles, bring your broth back up to a boil and cook your noodles of choice according to the directions on the package.

your soup can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week without noodles and 2-3 days with noodles. reheat leftovers on the stove.

happy souping!

Sara DamjanovicComment