The older I get, the more I appreciate soups.
They are nutritious, fun to make, usually inexpensive, and a great excuse to clean out your fridge.
Chicken soup if my favorite to eat, but not my favorite to make because of the clean-up. It usually involves many large bowls, sieves, utensils, picking through the meat and leftover bones and deflated veggies, not to mention peels and greasy counters and kitchen items.
So, I've been making this small-batch recipe that pushed all the bells and whistles of my desires and tastes: good soup, easy clean-up.
It uses the cheapest of chicken parts: legs (thighs also work, or a combo thereof). Where I shop, I have access to a 3-pack of organic chicken quarters. Rarely are they more than 4 bucks, a real bargain. I'm usually after the thighs, so, after cutting them off, I'm left with three legs. That's when I started making this soup.
I put them in a two-quart saucepan along with some veggies and let it simmer for several hours. It fills my apartment with incredible aromas I can actually inhale if I'm outside on my porch. There's really only one bone in a leg or thigh, and after several hours of simmering, the meat literally falls off the bone, so it's easy to fish out for easy removal without a sieve. The same with the veggies.
If the strength of the broth is too weak, I add a good tablespoon of chicken Better than Bouillon. That is the ONLY brand I will use.
I usually have the meat with the "pot gravy" for one meal then save the broth for another. For breakfast, nothing is better (or healthier) than warm broth.
When all is said and done, I basically just have a single pan to wash. That's it. EZ-PZ.
My favorite way to enjoy broth is with a tiny squeeze of lemon or thin slice of peel, dried dill, and just a pinch of Cayenne or Aleppo pepper.
Do use thyme. Feel free to use other herbs, but thyme is traditional and, in my opinion, should always be used with any chicken recipe. Dill is also nice, but add at the end, not the beginning. The same with rosemary. People just love to use rosemary when making soup. It's a bad idea. It can easily bitter and overpower your broth. Use at the very end just until your broth is flavored. For roast chicken, use all you want when you want.
A few notes: If I want a hearty soup, I add 1-2 nests of pappardelle noodles when the soup is done. I simply remove the pan from the burner and but in the balls of noodles, cover the pot and leave it for an hour or so during which time the noodles will lovingly swell with the flavorful broth and unfurl for real-life slurping. These are LONG noodles, hence the reason they are wrapped into a ball-like nest. Buy a good brand. You'll never go back to regular noodles. (Great for beef stews, too!)
- 3-4 chicken legs. If small, add one or two more and/or a thigh, but you may need a larger pot.
- 1 large carrot, cleaned, sliced lengthwise, than into 2-3 inch lengths, or simply cut into medium rounds
- 1 rib celery, roughly chopped or, into medium slices if you like it with your soup
- 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed, peeled, cut into a few pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme flakes (or a few fresh thyme stems with leaves)
- If you have it, a few stems fresh parsley
- If using, one or two nests pappardelle pasta (bronze cut)
- Kosher salt-but only at the very end
- Chicken Better-than-Bouillion, if desired
- 4 cups water