There is nothing quite like a hot bowl of chicken soup!
It’s always been on my list of ultimate healing comfort foods. A go to when you are sick, or when the weather has turned. It was one of the ways that mothers and grandmothers helped to soothe you when you were ill. There is no accident that there are healing versions of chicken soup recipes all over the globe!
I, for one love to include ingredients that help to cleanse the body of bacteria and viruses like ginger, garlic, star anise, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Not only do they assist in healing, but the also provide wonderful flavors.
I find soups to be a blank slate for creativity. So sky’s the limit!
This recipe starts with a whole chicken. If organic and pasture raised are in your budget, then choose those. If not, make it however you can!
This recipe will give you a lot leftovers as it made a large pot of soup! We ate some over the next two days and I froze the rest of it in batches for the near future. The next time you are in need of chicken soup, you will be grateful at how easy is it to simply defrost the soup that you have already cooked and ready to go!
I chose not to add any noodles or rice to mine. However, feel free to do so if you want!
1 whole chicken
1 whole head of celery finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
2 springs of fresh rosemary
2 springs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger + a 2 inch piece of peeled ginger
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tbsp sea salt (+ salt and pepper to taste)
1 stalk of lemongrass
2 tbsp of butter
Divide your chicken. I separate the legs, wings and the breast from the back, and place that into a large pot. Fill that up with enough water to cover the chicken. Add a tablespoon of sea salt and a teaspoon of whole peppercorns. To that, I add the whole cloves of garlic, a 2 inch piece of peeled ginger, star anise and lemon grass.
The lemongrass is a stalk. I bang it a couple of times with the back of my knife (till it breaks apart) to help release its essential oils and aromatic flavor.
As it comes to a boil, you will skim off the foam from the top. Continue to cook it until it is pretty much falling off the bone tender.
At this point, you have just made chicken stock! YAY!
While the chicken is cooking, chop the rest of your ingredients. I prefer a fine chopping of the onion and the celery. I used the whole head including the leaves instead of just one or two stalks because it really offers a wonderful fragrance to the soup. In a second large pot, start to soften those with butter and a teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of fresh pepper. I start the flame on medium and then bring it down to low heat. This will allow it to soften beautifully, and the salt releases the liquid in the onoion and celery.
Note: I found it easier to use two pots for this because while the chicken was cooking in one, the other ingredients were cooking in the other one. You can also soften the aromatics in a large pan instead of a second pot.
In the meantime, chop your herbs. The addition of fresh herbs added a lovely extra layer of flavor.
Add those to the softened onion and celery. Add grated ginger.
Using tongs, pull out all of the cooked chicken and place in a large bowl.
The easiest way for me to strain the stock from the spices I had added is with a spider ladle. Disgard the whole peppercorns, bay leaf, whole garlic, whole ginger and lemon grass. Pour the chicken stock into the pot with the softened onions, celery and herbs.
While that is cooking on low, you can shred the cooked chicken. I removed the skin and the bones and placed those in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They will become a part of my next batch of bone broth.
When you have shredded the chicken to your liking, add it back into the pot and let it all come to a boil.
Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.