chicken soup

Last week, I spent the better part of two days holed up in my barely furnished room, watching TV on my laptop—because apparently, nothing says, Welcome to Nashville!, like a stomach bug that knocks every shred of every thing out of your body in the course of one evening—and the whole time, there was one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about: homemade chicken soup.

You know what I mean when I say homemade chicken soup, right? I don’t mean chicken soup from a can or even packaged chicken broth that you add vegetables to. I mean roast-your-own-chicken-and-turn-it-into-stock soup. The kind that is soothing and comforting. The kind that is loaded with nutrients. The kind that “puts vigor in the step and sparkle in love life” to quote folklore.

I’ve tried to make my own stock before with bad results. I actually remember an entire conversation Jacqui and I had about this: not enough flavor, not what we expected, what were we doing wrong? But it was just a month or two ago that I made it with great results: rich, flavorful, perfect for adding vegetables and rice to. Now this is kind of my go-to version, and exactly what I was craving. The key seems to be the same thing that changes relationships, careers, opinions, and experiences: time.

chicken soup

As soon as I had the strength to leave the house and visit a local grocery, I bought a chicken, a bag of carrots, a bag of celery, and an onion. And the next morning, I set to work, putting the chicken in the oven as soon as I woke up.

The carcass and pan drippings went into a pot that afternoon, covered with water and, here’s what’s so important: given hours and hours to cook down. By evening, that chicken-submerged water had become darker, thicker, much more akin to the stuff you expect to see when you think of chicken stock. And, most importantly, strained and combined with vegetables and shredded chicken, it was perfection: pure comfort in a bowl.

chicken soup

I ate it for three days straight.






Homemade Chicken Soup
Serves six to eight.

Ingredients:
One whole roasting chicken (organic, farm-raised is better)
Butter/oil, salt/pepper for roasting the chicken
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
6 to 8 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
Herbs (optional)

Directions:
Roast chicken (using a recipe like this or this or your own). After eating most of the meat, reserve some for the soup (I like to eat the white meat and save the dark meat for the soup), and place the leftover carcass and pan drippings in a large stock pot (I used my 3.5-ounce Le Creuset). Fill with enough water to cover the chicken carcass (you can break apart the body if you need to). Heat until the water just bubbles, and let it simmer for six to eight hours. The longer you cook it, the richer your stock will be. After cooking, drain stock.

Combine stock (I actually put half in the freezer because it’s so thick at this point, and then added extra water to what was left) with carrots, onions, celery, and chicken. Generously salt and pepper to taste. Add herbs if you like.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 26 Comments

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  2. Maddie

    I’ve never seen broth so dark…it looks insanely flavorful. I think I’ll have to take a break from my normal chicken soup recipe and try yours!

    Hope you’re all healed now, and ready to take on your new city.

  3. Shannalee

    TJ–Thanks!

    Jacqui–You won’t be sorry!

    Lan–Thank you! I can look at food and feel hungry again, so I am over the moon about that. : )

    Maddie–It IS intensely flavorful! I hope you enjoy this! And thank you for the well wishes. I am so happy to be better again!

  4. Pei-Lin

    My American family would often serve this during wintertime. Besides being a comfort food (well, I grew to perceive it as a comfort food while I was in MN), it definitely helps a lot in warming all of us up in the frigid MN! LOL!

  5. the good soup

    You know, I’ve never tried this, and I am bashful to admit, I even dismissed the idea of a ‘bone based stock’ in a post on chicken stock I wrote recently (due to something Judy Rogers from Zuni Cafe instilled in me). But I am SO ready to admit to my ignorance and give this a go, especially because it means I get to have my roasted chicken AND my stock too! Lovely to have found you, Angela

  6. Shannalee

    Jen, Hmmm I don’t think so? But I think that’s actually a really good thing if it seems that way–shows that it’s really thickened and brought out nutrients from the bones.

    Dinners & Dreams, Exactly!

    Pei-Lin, Comfort food indeed!

    Dana, Soul warming, I like that! : )

    Angela, You’ve made me curious about your stock… I tend to like anything from Zuni! I’d love to hear how you like this version in comparison!

  7. Sue

    What an awful welcome to your new home! BUT, chicken soup does make life look wonderful. I’ve made my fair-share of chicken noodle soup this winter (sadly), but yours looks just awesome. Bye, bye flu!!

  8. Shannalee

    Gemma, Sounds good!

    Amaranthian, Excellent!

    Sue, Right? It was pretty discouraging. I think the real low point came the day after the bug hit, when I almost passed out in the shower–no joke, But at least it’s behind me now! : ) I’ve decided feeling not sick is pretty much the best thing ever. : )

  9. Kelley

    I hate chicken soup because I love to eat it but I can never, ever, ever make it turn out! My mom has tried to teach me half a dozen times (hers is to die for) and I’m still hopeless.

    But … you give me hope to try just once more! (Even if it 70 and sunny today.) :)

  10. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    Hey Shannalee, i was making this stock right now (with an amazing roasted chicken I made last night) and i was wondering, do you cover the stock while it simmers? Just wanted to make sure because I didn’t know if it should reduce or be covered?
    thanks!
    elizabeth

  11. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    I kind of did half covered/half not for about 7 hours. I probably could have simmered it turned up a little hotter to reduce even more but it definitely has a dark rich look! I used it last night as the base for chicken n’ dumplings and then tomorrow night for chicken noodle soup!
    Thanks for the ideas and advice!
    Elizabeth

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