Home-Made Chicken Soup

So I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately, partially because it’s cheaper to make your own food and partially as an attempt to reduce the amount of nonsense I consume in the course of a week.  I have no desire to turn this into a food blog but sometime last spring I made an amazing dressing / dip with Greek yogurt and a shit ton of garlic and six months later I’ve forgotten how to make it.  So I’ve decided to start posting recipes here as soon as they’re perfected so I don’t forget them and also just to share with whoever wants to give them a try.

Home-made chicken soup.  Goddamn this is good.  This is nothing new or gourmet, it’s just a simple chicken soup recipe that anyone can make.  You’re going to need:

3-4 Pounds Bone-In Chicken Thighs
1-2 Pounds Carrots
1 Celery Stalk
2 Large Onions
1 Bulb Garlic
1.5 Pounds Red Potatoes
2 Bay Leaves
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper

Peel and chop the celery, carrots, and onions and throw them in the bottom of a large pan or stock pot.  Dice the hell out of the garlic and throw it in there too.  If peeling garlic is a pain in the ass for you, click this link and watch the video, it’s amazing.  Go on, I’ll wait.

Holy shit, right?  Anyway, onto the chicken thighs.  When you buy these things in the store it doesn’t really matter if you buy them with the skin on or not, but you absolutely have to make sure they have their bones still in.  Damn near all of the flavor in the broth comes from those bones so they’re kind of important.  If their skins are still on, hook your thumb under, between the skin and the meat and yank it off.  If you have an inner vegetarian lurking anywhere inside of you, the process of removing the skin will drag it screaming out of you in a fit of disgust.  Don’t be too anal about removing the skin from the thighs, just get whatever you can easily pull off with your fingers.  The skin is mostly fat and fat is flavor so a tiny amount won’t do any harm.  When you’re done, throw them in the pot, on top of the veggies.

Next throw in some thyme.  If you’re using fresh thyme, throw in half a dozen sprigs, if you’re using dried thyme, just…I don’t know, give a light even coat of it over the meat (I’ve used both but I’ve never measured).  Just don’t over-season the meat, you can always add more later.  Throw a couple bay leaves on top of that, and NOTHING ELSE.  You can season to taste at the end of the cooking process.

Now take the stock pot and add cold water until it’s approximately 1.5-2 inches over everything.  If you like thicker soups or stews, then just add enough water to cover the meat and veggies by about an inch or so.  Stock pot on the stove, stove on high heat until everything comes to a boil.  As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer, uncovered, for 60-90 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, take your potatoes, give them a quick wash, peel them if you have the patience for that sort of thing (I don’t) and cut them to whatever size you feel like putting in your mouth.  Also, during the simmering process, occasionally take a look at your broth.  You’ll notice there’s a small amount of scum gathering at the top of the soup.  Just skim this off with a spoon or a small strainer or something similar.

After an hour, hour and a half, come back to your pot and take some tongs and remove the thighs from the pot.  At this point, the bones have given every bit of flavor they have and are now just gross, so it’s time to remove the meat from them.  You can do this by just shredding the meat off the bones with two forks.  However, I usually let the meat cool down for five minutes or so so that I can do this by hand.  There’s some connective tissue on either end of the bones here and if you’re not careful, it’s way too easy for it to get put back in the soup pot.  This is bad because they have no flavor at all and they’re hard and rubbery and are like chewing on tiny racket balls which, having done it, I can tell you is disgusting and does not make for an enjoyable meal.

When they and the bones are gone, shred the meat and throw it back into the pot, along with the potatoes.  Let everything continue to simmer for another half hour or so, depending on how large or small you cut the potatoes (you’re effectively done when the spuds are fork-tender).  Also, I suppose you could just as easily add pasta at this point, instead of potatoes.  Or even dumplings if you know how to make them…I’ll have to give that a try sometime.

At this point, the whole kitchen is gonna smell amazing (unless you’re a vegetarian, like my wife, who thinks this soup smells like weaponized farts).  All that’s left to do is take a taste of the broth and add salt and pepper to suit your pallet.  Sometimes I like to add Chinese hot sauce and soy sauce to the soup so it’s important not to go overboard with the salt.  I’m not sure you can go overboard with pepper.

And there it is, the most verbose chicken soup recipe on record.