chicken soup for lazy people
It’s November. It’s cold. Chances are, you or someone in your family has hand, foot, and mouth disease. Times like these call for chicken soup.
I’m not a big soup person. I grew up on yummy Korean soups made by my mom or dad, but Koreans generally eat their soup alongside their main meal, or with a bowl of rice and lots of banchan (side dishes). Thus, the concept of soup as a meal is totally foreign to me, and smells a lot like deprivation. Whenever I try soup for dinner, it usually backfires, and I end up inhaling two half-frozen Hot Pockets and four squares of baking chocolate at 9:30 PM.
But when it’s cold, and I’m sick, I do predictably get a craving for homemade chicken soup. The problem is, when it’s cold and I’m sick, the last thing I want to do is make a bouquet garni and boil a chicken for two hours to make stock. I want the payoff without the hassle. The recipe below perfectly suits these requirements. It starts with a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, and ends with a couple handfuls of fresh dill and parsley, because I love the vibrant green and I like my fresh herbs in non-ornamental quantities. The rotisserie chicken is the cheat here–it gives you some of that “I cooked this for hours, now how about a back rub” depth of flavor, without the actual labor.
The recipe is also easy to modify to suit your preferences. Don’t like noodles? Leave ’em out. Prefer a less predictable chicken soup? Throw in a parsnip in lieu of a carrot, or a knob of fresh ginger. If you want a creamy chicken soup, finish the whole thing by swirling in a cup of whole milk or cashew cream. Or stick with the basic recipe and improve your chances that your kids might actually eat some too. By that, I do not mean to suggest that my kids will eat this, because they are ungrateful wretches, and won’t.
The best part of the recipe is that you might already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen. I love it when recipes say that, in reference to ingredients that only reside in your pantry if you are, say, Thomas Keller. Like pine nuts. If you have pine nuts in your pantry, you probably also haven’t made it this far in my post, because you are busy chasing down the chicken in your backyard or tying a love knot on that bouquet garni. For the rest of us, be assured that besides the rotisserie bird, you probably either have these ingredients, or can get them on the way home from work, for relatively cheap.
Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup
2 T olive oil
1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, torn into large shreds, skin and bones removed
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, or 2 medium, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
8 cups chicken broth or stock
1-2 cups dried egg noodles
1 cup fresh chopped dill, flat-leaf parsley, or combination
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Heat a large soup pot, casserole, or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the carrots, onion, and celery in the olive oil until reasonably soft, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add noodles and chicken, cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until noodles are cooked to your liking.
4. Taste, and add salt and pepper to your liking.
5. Take off heat, stir in the herbs. Enjoy!
Notes: This is a very forgiving recipe. I realize my ingredient quantities are not very specific, but I’ve made this with whatever I have on hand, and it works, so don’t sweat it if you are a carrot short. For the chicken, depending on your affinity for dark meat and your bone-picking abilities, you should yield anywhere from 2-4 cups of chicken. I like plenty of chicken in my soup, but if you don’t, reserve what you don’t use for any number of uses. For the broth, I prefer Swanson Natural Goodness chicken broth, which has less sodium. I have tried many organic brands and don’t like them, because, ironically, they taste too much like chicken. If you have leftovers, you may need to top them off with a little more broth or water when reheating, because the noodles will suck up broth in the fridge. Enjoy!