My office is closed for a work furlough this week — we’re all taking an unpaid week off of work, to help defray operating costs in the stifling economy. Some people are taking this opportunity to go away and travel, but I decided to kind of play it cool and close to home for the week. Of course, my week DID fill up mighty fast, and I have lots of things to do — doctor’s appointments, visiting friends, babysitting for Jasper, etc. — but one thing I REALLY wanted to do this week was make chicken soup. And, since Boston’s summer has been relatively pathetic, making soup on the last day of June is not that much of a stretch anyway.
Now, I don’t really have a standard RECIPE, per se, for my chicken soup. I have my method, and generally use similar ingredients each time, though I’m more than willing to tweak what I do, based on what I have and what looks good. I definitely use some shortcuts (yes, here’s the shocker, I use the store-bought chicken broth, I have not mastered the fine art of stock-making. Not to mention the fact that we hardly ever eat meat on a bone, which makes homemade stock/broth-making kind of impossible!), but I really don’t want to apologize for the shortcuts taht I use. It makes it a lot easier to whip up my soup, and it still tastes delicious.
Anyway, here is a rough approximation of how I make my chicken soup, along with my recipe annotations. Please feel free to try it out and tweak it, based on your own preferences.
Furlough Chicken Soup
- 1 lb. chicken, cut into small pieces (you can use white or dark meat. I usually use whatever I have on hand. Today, I cut up some chicken tenders that we had in the freezer into wee little bits)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 bag carrots, chopped into coins or chunks
- 1 head of celery, including leaves, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped finely
- 48 – 64 oz. chicken broth (I usually use College Inn broth, but today, I used Progresso chicken broth)
- 2 bay leaves
- a good half handful of fresh dill
1. Chop all vegetables and chicken. In a nice heavy stockpot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until chicken is browned.
2. Add vegetables and cook until slightly softened.
3. Add chicken broth and herbs. Bring soup to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. You can simmer covered or uncovered, though simmering uncovered creates a more complex, thicker broth. Depending on how long you simmer, you may need to add additional broth, if the soup cooks down too much. If you do not have enough broth on hand, you can dissolve a bouillon cube in 2 cups of water, and add to the soup.
4. Salt and pepper to your taste.
5. Serve over noodles (your choice — I like egg noodles or Kluski noodles) or rice.
This soup yields a LOT, tastes GREAT and will be something you crave, no matter the time of year.