There are many variations on simple chicken based soups. Initially, I’ll concentrate on the simplest way to put together a few cups of soup for lunch after getting started about 10 am. The first soup described below will take about half an hour to prepare, not counting the time it is covered and on a slow rolling boil. The emphasis in this soup is on something simple, healthy, but tasty. Trust me, I’m not talking about a simple uninteresting chicken broth. It will be something you can not only enjoy, but which you can modify and add to with many variations. When you have time, or want to take more time, you can make something yet more elegant.
Simple Chicken Soup #1
Use a full container of Swanson’s Chicken stock. You can use either the salted or unsalted stock and later adjust the salinity with adding water to the salted stock or some salt to the unsalted stock. Another option is to prepare your own stock the night before from a whole chicken carcass to which a little cooked chicken may still adhere. The adhering chicken can be removed and added to the soup later (see below). Alternatively , you can add small or large amounts of previously frozen but briefly thawed and diced chicken pieces if you are using the Swanson or an alternative chicken stock. Indeed you can use relatively little or a lot of cut up chicken in the soup.
While heating the stock mixture to a boil, cut up two or three leeks in small slices. Also, cut up a dozen or more small baby carrots, and a half dozen small celery stalks. Also dice a small onion or half or more of a larger one. An alternative is to cut up a small bunch of green onions.
To the boiling stock add 3-4 black pepper corns and a handful or two of wild rice or a wild rice-white rice mix. This can be rice that has already been cooked and used for part of a meal the previous evening, covered and stored in the refrigerator. If the rice is already cooked then the above mixture of vegetables (leek, celery, carrots and onions) can be added at the same time as the rice. If the rice has not been previously cooked then slow boil the rice-chicken broth mixture covered for about 15 minutes before adding the vegetable mixture. After adding the vegetable mixture slow boil it covered another 15-20 min. Afterwards, add a handful of parsley, basil and dill-either freshly picked from the garden or previously dried and crumbled. Turn off the heat and cover the soup and let it stand for about 20 min. Stir the soup and taste.
You may need to add a little salt, but go easy with that. The herbs will impart considerable taste to the soup. Still a little salt may be necessary if you have diluted the stock with too much water. If you have not added enough water, you can still add a little additional water at the end particularly of the taste is excessively salty. Overall, the use of large amounts of herbs in recipes I will present here and elsewhere in this blog will generally necessitate the use of less added salt.
Simple Chicken Soup # 2
Use an alternative rice or cooked barley in place of rice used above. Rice alternatives include white rice, yellow rice, brown rice, or almost any rice variation of which you are fond.
Simple Chicken Soup # 3
In place of added water you can add all or part of a 15 oz can of tomato sauce. If you do this, you should use the unsalted chicken stock. This is because the tomato sauce contains a fair amount of salt. Thus, the unsalted stock and water may help to balance the salt. A small amount of caraway seed added with the other herbs offers a nice touch for this soup. However, caraway may be a difficult taste to get used to for some members of your family. My experience is that most will like it if seeds are added to and allowed to infuse into the soup in moderation.
Simple Chicken Soup #4
In this variation add a 15 oz can of white kidney beans (Cannellini beans). This can be done with or without rice or barley, and with or without addition of tomato sauce.
Other additions for each of the four simple chicken soups: half of a bag of baby spinach cooked in just before addition of herbs, cut up green beans fresh or from a can as an alternative to Cannellini beans, finely cut kale or Swiss chard as an alternative to spinach.
One final point: you should experiment with other variations not mentioned above. Left over broiled vegetables or many vegetables not mentioned above can be added as alternatives or in addition to those noted above. In general, broccoli and Brussels sprouts and other similar vegetables may impart a mildly bitter taste to the soup. This is less a problem if these vegetables are previously cooked when fresh or parboiled and flash frozen. Ideally adding vegetables that are still reasonably fresh from the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator is far better than turning them into unauthorized microbiological experiments.