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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Perfect Chicken Soup Recipes

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
The way to my heart is through a bowl of soup. Soups are the frugal cook's best friend, as they can be made from nearly anything, including frugal ingredients or food past its prime and still taste terrific.
I grew up with many different types of soup, but to me, chicken soup was just something you make from consomm√©/bullion and water; plain old chicken soup was too "boring" of a dish for an exotic food chef like my mom. Once I moved out of the house, I got to experience the culinary delight that is chicken soup, and have since discovered that there are as many variations to this soup as there are stars in the sky, each one with their own delicious, signature taste.
When I make chicken soup, I don't just throw a bunch of random ingredients into a pot and call it a day- I decide which unique flavor I'm aiming for, and make the soup that matches that precisely.
Here's my most frequently made variations, and where I learned to make that precise variation.

Note- each of these recipes say "chicken", but don't specify what type precisely because it doesn't matter, as long as you use enough to give it a strong chickeny flavor. I use whatever I have, including, but not limited to: Chicken carcasses, chicken wings, chicken scraps, including fat, skin, and wing tips, water from boiling chicken gizzards, chicken necks, etc.
All recipes are assuming you are using a 6 quart pot, filling it with the ingredients, then filling it the rest of the way with water.

5 Terrific Chicken Soup Recipes

FIL Penniless's Chicken Soup
Whenever we go visit Mike's dad, we'd be served the most terrific chicken soup that leaves everyone hungry for more. This is based on that recipe, in an effort to recreate the same taste, without the unhealthy bullion.
Ingredients:
Lots of chicken
2 cups chopped pumpkin
3-4 carrots
2-3 medium zucchini
2-3 medium onions
¼ cup chopped fresh corriander
Water to fill
Lots of salt

Instructions
1. Boil the chicken for 1-2 hours, strain if necessary.
2. Add the rest of the vegetables, cook until soft.
3. Add corriander, salt to taste.

Poor Man's Chicken Soup
I had this type of soup at a friend's house, and fell in love with it, because it contained the most simple, cheap, ingredients, and yet was still delicious!
Ingredients
Lots of chicken
3-4 large potatoes
2-3 onions
3-5 large carrots
Water to fill
Salt to taste

Instructions
1. Boil the chicken for 1-2 hours, strain if necessary.
2. Add the rest of the vegetables, cook until soft.
3. Salt to taste.

Wonton Style Chicken Soup
This is based on the broth I use to make wonton soup, but sometimes make it, leaving out the wontons. You can slice any veggies you want to put in it, or leave it clear.
Ingredients
Lots of chicken
1 tbsp fresh ginger
4 medium scallions
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
Salt (to taste)
Water to cover
Carrots julliened (optional)
Nappa cabbage strips (optional)
Snow peas(optional)
Mung bean sprouts (optional)

Instructions
1. Boil chicken, ginger and 3 scallions for 3 hours. Strain if necessary.
2. Add sugar, soy sauce, and salt to taste.
3. Immediately before serving, add the last scallion, chopped up small, and vegetables, if desired.

Boarding Chicken Soup
I know, I know, funny name for a soup, but this recipe recreates the type of chicken soup I must have eaten at least 2-3 nights a week when I boarded with a family for some time when I was in school in a city far from home. The soup was very delicious and was my first real taste of “non bullion chicken soup”.
Ingredients:
Lots of chicken
1 onion
4 carrots
5 parsnips
Water to cover
Salt to taste
Buckwheat groats, cooked (optional)

Instructions
1. Boil the chicken for 1-2 hours, strain if necessary.
2. Add the rest of the vegetables, cook until soft.
3. Season with salt. Serve with cooked buckwheat groats, if desired.

Yemenite Chicken Soup
I had this type of soup first at my friend's wedding party. It is very different, not your usual chicken soup, but its phenomenal! It uses a spice mix called Hawaj, aYemenite spice mix, which if you can't find at an ethnic grocery, you can make yourself with the recipe below.
Ingredients
A lot of chicken
2 large onions
3 large carrots
2 large zucchinis
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1-3 tablespoons hawaj, to taste
¼ cup parsley or corriander (optional)
Salt to taste
Couscous (optional)

Instructions
1. Boil the chicken for 1-2 hours, strain if necessary.
2. Add the rest of the vegetables, greens, and chickpeas; cook until soft.
3. Add hawaj and salt to taste.
4. Serve with couscous, if desired.

Hawaj Spice Mix
This taste good on rice, with chicken, on potatoes, vegetables, in split pea soup, etc. Be creative.
Ingredients
1/4 cup ground cumin
1 tbsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/4 cup black pepper

Instructions
1. Toast cumin, cardamom, turmeric, and corriander in a thick bottomed pot, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat, add pepper, mix well.

What things go in your chicken soup? Do you have one type of chicken soup that you make, or does yours come out differently every time? Do you have specific "types" that you make, or do you just throw whatever you have in the house together and know it'll come out good?
Did you grow up with "real chicken soup" or with the stuff from a can or from bullion?

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