Chicken and Veggie Soup

Chicken and Veggie Soup
 

Soup just warms my soul. This particular soup reminds me of my first apartment in Seattle. It was a tiny studio in lower Queen Anne. It made the place seem a lot bigger than it was because the Space Needle was literally a mile away, giving me a killer view. That tiny kitchen helped me figure some things outs, with food and (bear with me) life. This soup was the first meal I made there, and even though it looks different than the one I've crafted over the years, the sentiment is still the same.

This is a basic soup, but it's what you do with it that makes it special! Chicken, carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, chicken stock, water, vegetable oil and salt and pepper.

Mmmmmm. The aromatics. I didn't understand the power of these pleasant smelling ingredients until I didn't use some of them in a dish. I know I could go out in the garden and get the thyme, but I was in pajamas and who'll notice anyways. Well friends. I noticed. And it was a sad day.

If you want less chaos, get everything chopped up before you turn on the stove. No worries if you do it while the chicken is cooking, you can always remove the pot from the heat if you need more time mid-way. Chop the onion up.

I chopped up my thin stemmed thyme (just use the leaves if your stem is woodier) and garlic. Just to clear any confusion, I'm no doctor, but I do know that garlic is healthy for you. So tell the person making this for you to load up if you're under the weather. Since you will be in bed instead of in the kitchen. I got ya covered.

Chop up the rest of the veggies. I used to think celery was meh, until I made sure to buy it with leaves on the tops and started cutting it differently. The leaves are totally flavorful, and if you can, save them for the dish!

Put the leaves to the side and cut up the celery and stems, carrots and potatoes to your liking. I did about a half inch on the celery and carrots and quartered the taters. I leave the skins on cause there's more vitamins. It has nothing to do with being easier. Or everything to do with that. One of those.

Onto the chicken! Now, for this recipe you could use a whole, quartered, or variety of pieces of this bird. Try to use pieces with bones and skin on because they bring SO much more flavor to this soup. I use drumsticks because, well ... it's stupid cheap. Like seriously. Pat these babies dry with a paper towel, to help it brown in the pot. If they're all wet, they'll steam instead of sear.

Let's start cookin'! Get your pot nice and hot on medium high, then pour in your vegetable oil. I don't go up to the hottest setting because there will be some oil splatter. Put your chicken in the pot and try to get them flat onto the bottom. Once they're in there, LEAVE 'EM ALONE! If you keep bothering them, they will not brown because they are mad at you. Talking about browning, the reason I do that for this recipe is because it brings even MORE flavor. Scouts honor.

After about 7 minutes, these legs were ready to turn. When I first used enameled cast iron I would freak out when meat would stick to the bottom. I have learned since that the meat will tell you when it's ready to flip. If you wiggle it and there's no give, leave it until it releases naturally.

After the other side is browned make some room to add the onions, bay leaves and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Mix these around and wait for the aromatics beginning to form.

Stir everything around. So pretty!

Add the carrots, potatoes, celery and stems. Just in case you were wondering, I didn't forget the noodles. I like to replace them with potatoes because there won't be less liquid and bloated noodles in my leftovers. As you can see this is a lot of soup for this single meat eater in the household.

Time for the liquid! Add the 4 cups of chicken stock and 4 cups of water. I like this half and half liquid mixture because it's "not too much, not too little" on taste. If that makes any sense.

Add in the garlic and thyme.

Stir everything around then leave it alone! It's time for the magic to happen. Get this up to a gentle boil for about 20 minutes, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Cover the pot and leave a crack open so it doesn't  boil over. Excuse the mess on the lid.

While you're waiting for the soup to boil, chop up the parsley and celery leaves. Don't these look pretty similar? I love it.

Ohmylordy. The smell is insanely delicious. Get a bowl out to hold the chicken to shred.

Take out the chicken and put it on a plastic cutting board. Take off the meat and discard the bones and skin. Use two forks to shred the meat because it will be hot hot hot.

This is what you'll end up with. Juicy chicken pieces.

Gently add the chicken back in, being careful not to splash yourself with hot liquid.

Stir around and gently boil for about 5 more minutes to let the chicken incorporate back into the soup. Feel free to boil longer if you want the veggies softer. It wont hurt the chicken.

Turn off the heat and take out the bay leaves (not a good idea to eat ever), add in the parsley and celery leaves, and stir the soup one more time. Just a heads up, there will be fat from the chicken. Please leave that in there because it's another source of flavor. Really, it's worth it.

Taste a little bit when it's cooled down to see if it needs anymore salt and pepper.

Perfection in a bowl. Amazing when it's cold outside, or you have a cold, or someone else has a cold. Either way this soup will give you a hug.

The first time I eat this, I'll eat it as is. Second time, maybe with some Sriracha. Next I'll definitely have some rice with it. All the times, heaven.  

 

Chicken Vegetable Soup | About 6 servings

Ingredients
2.5 pounds chicken drumsticks, about 7 pieces 
4 Carrots, chopped
3 Small potatoes, quartered 
5 Celery stalks with leaves, chopped
1 Large onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 Bay leaves
1 Handful of parsley, chopped
4 Sprigs of thyme, optional
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Steps

  1. Chop all vegetables and aromatics.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large pot heated to medium high. Dry chicken legs with a paper towel, then add to pot and cook about 7 minutes each side or until it release from the pot. Avoid moving them so that they will brown.
  3. Move chicken to the side of the pot and add onion and bay leaves to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  
  4. Add chopped carrots, potatoes and celery without the leaves to the pot with 4 cups of chicken stock and 4 cups of water. Add in the chopped garlic and thyme. 
  5. Stir around all ingredients in the pot, scraping any bits that are on the bottom of the pot. Turn heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Adjust heat to keep it at a soft boil for 20 minutes.
  6. Take out the chicken drumsticks and shred the meat with two forks, discarding the skin and bones.
  7. Add the shredded chicken meat back to the soup and continue boiling for about 5 minutes, depending on desired texture of vegetables. 
  8. Turn off the heat and take out the bay leaves. Add the chopped parsley and chopped celery leaves and stir. Serve hot with rice or biscuits.