The shift from summer to fall to winter can be a tough one for immune systems when you live in a northern climate.  Any given year, there are usually one or two nasty colds or flus that make their way through the country, starting in the nursery and elementary schools and working their way to just about everyone. This year though, we seem to have been saddled with not only the typical sinus infection crud, but also Type A Flu and possibly Hog Fever. I recently worked as a substitute teacher at a local elementary school and had four students in the classroom. FOUR! Ever play Heads Up Seven Up? Let me tell you, Heads Up Two Up is just not that exciting.

In the past when I was sick, I would curl up on the couch, watch bad movies, chug NyQuil, and beg my mom to magically appear with a pot of her chicken soup. Unfortunately, teleportation was not an option, and so I would settle for a box of Mrs. Grass Noodle Soup, or, if I was lucky, I would have a box of Manischewitz Matza Ball Soup in the cupboard. These options were ok, but quite frankly nothing is as good when you are sick as the smell of good old homemade chicken soup simmering on the stove!

Last year, I finally broke down when I was sick and made myself (and Jeff) a pot of chicken soup. It was actually quite simple, tasted delicious, and definitely brightened my sneezy spirits. Unfortunately, we were then left eating chicken soup for the next two days and still some of it got tossed.

My dad, as well as other solo cooks, recommends utilizing the freezer to solve the problem of too much soup. This is a good idea, but honestly, my freezer is only so big. With all the rest of the frozen portions of extra food that I have (pesto, tomato paste, coconut milk, diced tomatoes, etc.) along with the ubiquitous frozen pizzas, pot stickers, secret stashes of Girl Scout cookies, and, of course, ice cream, there just isn’t room for it all! Plus, part of the healing power of chicken soup is the aroma that fills your entire home!

And so I set out to create a two serving chicken soup recipe. Why two servings? Because day after soup is often better than first day soup. And the doctor always says, “Take two and call me in the morning.” This works for bowls of soup as well.

I made stock with both a Cornish Game Hen and bone-in chicken thighs and found the stock made from the thighs had a rich and sweet flavor and was much cheaper! I purchased a 4 pack of chicken thighs and froze the other two for another meal. (They don’t take up much space in the freezer). Below you will find a recipe for simple, just-like-your-mom-made chicken soup. Luckily, chicken soup and chicken broth were made for tweaking. Experiment with what you like most. Broth is a great place to get rid of the extra half veggies that you aren’t going to use up. Add some fennel, turnip, parsnip or leek for just a little more flavor. With my soup recipe, I left out a starch so you can add what you like. My mom preferred rice and cooked it/stored it separately so that it didn’t get mushy in the refrigerator. If you love noodles, you can cook them in the soup or cook them separately and add them later. My personal favorite soup is Mexican Tortilla. I add some jalapeno, cilantro and lime and fry up tortilla strips to put on top. Yum!

Chicken Broth

Yield: about 3 c broth and 1 ½ c meat

2 bone in chicken thighs (about 1/3 lb each)

6 c Water (plus extra for first boiling)

1 rib celery, sliced (~1/3c)

1 small carrot, chopped (~1/2c)

1 small onion, quartered (~3/4c)

1 large clove garlic, crushed

3 peppercorns

1 small bay leaf

1 sprig fresh parsley or ½ tsp dried

1 sprig fresh thyme or ¼ tsp dried

2 pinches sea salt (~1/8 tsp)

  • Place chicken thighs in medium sized soup pot. (I used a 3 quart sauce pan). Fill with enough water to cover thighs and place on high heat. Bring water to boil and let boil for 3 minutes. Remove pot from stove, dump water and rinse scum from thighs. (I learned this step from Tom Collichio of Top Chef. It cuts down on the need to skim your broth and you won’t lose any flavor in this first boil).
  • Place thighs back in pot and fill with 6 cups cold water and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a lively simmer and partially cover for 1 hour 15 minutes or until chicken is done. Skim any additional impurities that arise.
  • Remove chicken thighs and allow to cool while you prepare soup. Strain the veggies and herbs from broth.

Chicken Soup

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 small onion, chopped (~3/4c)

1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½” slices (~1/2c)

1 rib celery, cut into ½” slices (~1/3c)

1 medium clove of garlic, minced (~¾ Tbs)

1 sprig fresh thyme or ¼ tsp dried

1 small bay leaf

3 cups chicken broth

1 ½ c shredded chicken

Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Heat 3 quart soup pot or sauce pan on medium and add olive oil.
  • Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Sauté until vegetables are soft (~15-20 minutes).
  • Add broth, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pull chicken from cooled thighs and tear into bite sized pieces. Add to soup and cook for 3 more minutes or until chicken is heated through.
  • Season with salt and pepper.