Every home cook has their own version of chicken soup, usually derived in some part from ones cultural background. Spätzle as a stand in for noodles in a Hungarian version, tumeric as a yellow flavouring in soto ayam, the Indonesian version, and ginseng, glutinous rice and jujube fruits in Korean samgyetang, just to name a few. In the UK and USA, we are most familiar with a simple broth flavoured by a boiling chicken, herbs, noodles and chunky vegetables, commonly known as chicken noodle soup, a term coined by Campbell’s in the 1930s. No matter from which country it hails, this golden broth has long been thought to contain medicinal properties, a sort of ‘Jewish Penicillin’ or cure-all for colds and the flu. Traditionally, the broth was served as a first course while the boiled chicken eaten as the main, but we think there is nothing nicer than enjoying some juicy chicken along with the magical elixir of this golden broth.
There are many ways to make chicken soup, depending on how much time you have, how many you are serving, and, how much chicken you have. While our favourite method involves gently simmering a whole chicken with vegetables, herbs and garlic, chicken thighs (always on the bone) can be used to coax the rich, meaty flavour necessary for a truly warming bowl. A whole chicken will require about an hour and a quarter of gentle simmering, while chicken thighs will flavour the soup in about 40 minutes. Serve with crusty baguette or homemade challah.
Mama’s Chicken Noodle Soup
1 medium chicken (or 4 chicken thighs)
2 carrots peeled and chopped into chunks
1 white onion, chopped into chunks
2 celery sticks, chopped into chunks
1 leek, white part only, chopped into chunks
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
handful of peppercorns
4 sprigs ea. parsley, thyme and tarragon
chopped parsley for garnish
100 g noodles
a few handfuls of spinach (optional)
- Put the vegetables, chicken, herbs and peppercorns in a large stock pot.
- Cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for approximately an hour and a quarter (or 40 min if using thighs).
- Remove chicken and shred once it is cool enough to handle. (We like saving the breast meat for chicken salad with homemade mayo and chopped tarragon, and any extra broth for risotto).
- Strain the soup, but save the carrots. Place back into the pot and add the shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the noodles separately (this is important so that the soup doesn’t become too starchy), and add them to the soup when al dente. Reheat together, adding a few handfuls of spinach during the last minute if desired.
- Spoon into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley or soup nuts. Serve with crusty baguette or homemade challah.