Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nana’s Hearty Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has as many variations as there are cooks. My grandmother put the whole chicken into the stock pot, let it simmer there deliciously for hours, and then packed a lot of what had fallen away for leftovers—but, rest assured, there were plenty of chicken and veggies in the rich, comforting soup to go ‘round. My Nana also saw her chicken soup recipe as an opportunity to use up remnants in her veggie crisper and pantry.

Yield: about 3 quarts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: Simmer the soup for 45 minutes or more

1 whole (4-pound) chicken, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
3 large carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
6 medium celery ribs, diced (about 2 cups)
3 medium turnips, peeled and diced, about 2 cups
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 (15-ounce) white beans, rinsed optional
2 cups egg noodles or other variety of pasta, optional
2 cups white rice or other variety of rice, optional
1 large baking potato, diced, about 2 cups, optional
Place the chicken into a large soup pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken to a platter. The pieces may fall apart in the process. Cool so that you can remove the skin and bones from the meat. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Strain the stock through a colander into a bowl to discard any small pieces of skin or bone. Reserve the stock and the chicken.
Heat the oil in the same large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and turnips. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour in the stock and stir in the thyme. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer.
Stir in beans, pasta, rice, potatoes or any other hearty ingredient you have on hand. Continue simmering for 30 minutes or more. For freezer packing, cool the soup to room temperature and store in several air tight containers for up to 3 months.

Nana Note:
In addition to the hearty ingredients, you can add anything to this soup, such as other veggies (peas, green beans, diced zucchini and tomatoes) or your choice of fresh or dried herbs. Nana’s loving touch makes this recipe one that is easily passed down to the next generation of soup lovers.

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