I’m normally an anti-bouillon, build it from scratch, chicken soup girl. I really hate the either too salty or no flavour qualities bouillon brings to the table so hardly a carcass, asparagus end, mushroom stem or handful of wilted parsley crosses my path without being tossed in a bag and frozen for future use in homemade soup stock. One day I will get around to documenting my process for creating homemade soup stock but today is not that day. Last night, out of a lack of time & energy & the need to provide the eldest sprog with the nasty bottom sustenance in somewhat liquid form, I caved and made a not-from-scratch chicken soup. It gave me an opportunity to get rid of some rice leftovers and to test drive a product I’ve only recently discovered. It was the quickest, easiest chicken soup I’ve ever made & it was pretty damned good so I’ll share that recipe with you instead.
What you need:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A good pinch of black pepper
1 large cooking onion
2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled
4 cloves of garlic
6 bay leaves
A healthy pinch of ground nutmeg
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs**
2 (UK) quarts of water (10 cups)
2 cups of pre-cooked rice
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon(tm)***
3 cups of vegetables of your choice (I used a frozen mix of carrots, broccoli & cauliflower)
6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
I started with heating the olive oil in my large stock pot over medium-high heat and because I was concerned with getting the oniony/garlicky flavours into the soup quickly I puréed them together before adding them to the pot. I should have added the ginger to that mess as I neglected to tell my family that there were large chunks of it they may not want to consume and I think everyone but me got one. Good times. So, then I added the onions, garlic, ginger, cloves, nutmeg & bay leaves to the pot and cooked until everything was a lovely, translucent slop. I then added the thighs and cooked those until lightly browned. At this point they were easy to pull apart into bite-sized pieces in the pot with a couple of wooden spoons so I did that. Then in went the water, the bouillon-esque stuff and the rice. I brought all of that to a boil then added the frozen vegetables & thyme sprigs & let the lot of it simmer until the vegetables were tender.
*The French word for cloves is clous which translates back to english as nails. I don’t know why I like that so much but it always makes me think of making orange/clove pomanders as a kid at Christmas time.
**Why thighs? The slightly higher fat content lends itself to better flavour distribution as well as holding its own against other flavours & being easy to pull apart once cooked.
**This stuff is like magic. The instructions on the jar called for 1 and 1/2 tablespoon per quart of water used but I got away with 1 and 1/2 for the entire batch of soup. It wasn’t too salty (the stuff is worth about 39% of your daily sodium intake recommendations per 6 gram serving which, compared to others with 45% for 3.5 grams is pretty decent) and my chicken soup tasted chickeny and not bouillony.