This is me, sitting in my pink flannel Christmas pajamas and fuzzy Christmas socks, enjoying a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup with dumplings. And the best part is, it only took about 30 minutes to make. That's right, you heard me, 30 minutes.
Naturally, when the weather cools I begin to crave soup. Soup every day. Bowls and bowls of soup! Now, I'm not going to lie... I occasionally like to eat soup from a can, Campbell's Homestyle Chicken Noodle specifically. And when I am sick I crave Chicken Top Ramen. I think it must be all the salt.
But nothing, I mean NOTHING beats homemade chicken soup. So when I read this article at The Kitchn for a quick chicken soup I just had to try it. And I am here to report, I have made it nearly every week so far this winter. Or at least my version of it. I highly, highly recommend the "less than an hour" version for weeknights or even a weekend when you don't want to spend a ton of time slaving in the kitchen.
I'm not going to go over the whole recipe; how silly would that be since they've done such a fine job already. But I will share with you a few tweaks I have made:
I have made this enough times now that I can guess approximately how much of the carrot-onion-celery mixture I want, so I don't measure. And so far, I have used whatever onions I had in the house which have always been white. I'm sure it's great with the suggested green onions, I just haven't given it shot yet. My point is, if all you have are yellow onions use 'em, it will turn out great.
You should also know that I do things a teensy bit out of order according to the recipe, but I think it's easier. I saute' my mirepoix (just a fancy French term for carrot, celery & onion) until slightly softened and add the liquid to it, not the other way around as they do at The Kitchn. Feel free to do it your way, it IS your kitchen after all.
Now, a word about stock. Like most people I often use store-bought stock in a box. It's great in a pinch and it has decent flavor if you add some fresh veg to it like they do in this recipe. BUT I don't always have it on hand. Wanna know what I do usually have on hand? Chicken Soup Base from Sunflower Natural Foods here in Yuba City. It is organic, it is versatile, it is inexpensive, it's easy to store and it's easy to prepare. And the people at Sunflower are very special to me. Shop at Sunflower!
What were we doing?? Oh right, cooking soup!
So.... I take about 4-5 heaping spoonfuls of the chicken soup base and add it plus 4-5 cups of water to the mirepoix (the carrot-celery-onion!) and ta-dah... yummy broth!
This is also your opportunity to reach into your spice cabinet and throw in anything else you might like. I love this spice blend from Napa Style here in CA. It has a perfectly balanced blend of garlic, fennel, etc. so I throw a generous pinch in my soup.
(Why does my hand look like a Shar Pei here? Weird.)
Also at this point I throw in shredded or chopped chicken or turkey breast. You don't have to if you don't want to, but it really makes this soup a meal. Let it all simmer away for 10-15 minutes just to make sure the flavors are combined and well developed.
It is at this point you have to make a decision: plain, dumplings or pasta. Plain is... well.... easy. Pasta is really pretty easy also. Just grab a handful of small pasta such as ditalini (tiny tubes) or acini de pepe (tiny balls) and simmer for just 5 more minutes. Or.....
... you can take the flavor all the way to top and add dumplings. I really like the flavor of the dumplings suggested by The Kitchn, but to be perfectly frank, I have not yet mastered the Art of the Dumpling. I don't know if it's the recipe or just my inexperience but I am still working on the perfect dumpling. My dumpling challenges aside, they add such a wonderful richness to the broth that you just won't get with the pasta. They do take a little longer, but very much worth the effort if you have time.
So there you have it. It's so satisfying and quite good for you. It's almost worth getting sick just to have this healthy yummy soup. I said almost!!