Chicken Soup the way my Grandma didn’t make it

I wish I took better food photos because this soup represents a huge ‘Aha!’ moment for me. Celia posted the recipe for this soup a little while ago on her blog.  I have to confess I was sceptical, part of me knew it was wrong to be sceptical as it clearly worked but… even so…

Put a whole chicken (I used a 1.6 kilo bird)  in a stock pot, cover it completely with cold water, throw in some slices of ginger and spring onion, a tablespoon of salt. Bring it to the boil, this takes about ten minutes. Let it simmer for five minutes, throw your pinny on – it’s a splashy bit coming up next – turn the chicken over, let it simmer another five minutes, then  put the lid on the pot and TURN IT OFF.  That’s it for cooking the chicken. ?  Yes, I thought so too. But it works. Leave it for forty minutes and come back to it after a quick glass of sherry, test for doneness by poking a sharp object into its thickest part, usually the thigh and if there is no sign of pink juice running out then remove the chicken from the stock to a plate.

Strain the bits and bobs out of the stock. Slice some onions, I used a white onion and some spring onions and some of those dinky little Chantenay carrots that look like they belong on a carrot cake made out of icing.  Take the icky skin off the chicken and dismember the bird, then slice or shred the chicken into the size pieces you want for your soup. We used about a third of a chicken for two of us last night and that was more than enough.

Pop the chopped vegetables back into the stock, bring to the boil, add a sheet of egg noodles per person to the stock once it has boiled and some of the shredded chicken, simmer until the noodles are cooked.  Chop some coriander or parsley with gay abandon and ladle into a big bowl and slurp away.

Anyway it is absolutely delicious. Oh so delicious. I think I might have to make it every week now. This soup is my new best friend. At the risk of being completely disloyal, I used to dread my Grandma’s chicken soup with its matzo balls and half inch of golden chicken fat on the top.

It isn’t particularly quick, (apart from the assembly part) and the bit where you do battle with the hot chicken removing the skin and the layer of surface fat isn’t the easiest, but I defy any cold or flu germs to get through the aromatic pleasures of a huge bowl of this translucent broth steaming away on your supper table.

There’s a bowl of clear quivering set stock sitting in the fridge right now. I think we’ll have it again tonight.

For the definitive version of this recipe please visit Celia’s blog. She’s made a lovely .pdf file for it too.  I’ve got another wonderful soup recipe to try from Heidi : Fennel and Celeriac with toasted almonds… I’m going to make that one next.  I learn so much from my blogging friends. Thank you all!

PS. There is no spot the ball in this little post, but I suspect quite a few foodie clichés so along with the bad photos I apologise for the ‘quivering stock’ as well.

Carrots and two sorts of onions in stock coming to the boil before the noodles and chicken meat are added

I just had a thought, having had my second meal from this, this time with some finely sliced chestnut mushrooms added and a little fresh lemon grass. Would cooking your chicken this way count towards reducing your carbon footprint? It must use considerably less energy than having the electric oven on for an hour or more. Maybe I should call this post 10:10 chicken?

23 thoughts on “Chicken Soup the way my Grandma didn’t make it

  1. sallybr

    Gosh, I am salivating already….. I wonder if I could try this soup here, but my stove is so “weak”, I guess I better wait until I’m home

    But I’m keeping it in my files for sure! (and I loved the photo, nothing wrong with it)

  2. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Weak as in small? How about a micro version of it using chicken pieces or quarters? Thanks about the photo Sally, you’re a dear! I’ve been trying to brighten it up, but the plate goes a strange shade of pink or worse blue, so it has to do. Maybe I need to get some non white crockery… hmmm…. ;)

    1. sallybr

      Small AND not powerful at all…. :-( Boiling pasta is already a huge ordeal: first the water takes AGES to boil, and when I put the pasta in, it takes forever to go back boiling. I am afraid this soup would be better in my regular oven at home…

  3. heidiannie

    That looks wonderful!
    I make chicken I’m going to use in another recipe this way- it isn’t all boiled out!
    But I would sautee the veg in a tablespoon of olive oil before I added it to the water. I like the flavor of my soups more textured than just boiling will give you.
    I think your pictures are really good, too.
    You may go a little dark, I seem to go murky.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I did wonder about doing that, but this works so beautifully Heidi, I think it might change the onion taste if it was sauteed first.

      I usually soften/sautee vegetables too before making soup out of them and I am soo looking foward to trying yours when I get back next week. :)

  4. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Hooray, you tried it! Thanks for doing that, Jo, and I’m so pleased you liked it. This is an easy recipe to make ahead, and if desired, the stock can be left to cool and defatted before using (I never bother – lots of the flavour is in the fat!).

    I really love how tender the chicken ends up – the original recipe was for making Chinese white cut chicken, so if you weren’t making soup, you could simply take the chook out, rub it all over with a little salt and peanut or sesame oil (just a tiny bit) while it’s still hot, let it cool a little, then cut it up and serve with rice and soy sauce.

    And when I was little, my mum used to make chicken rice porridge for us whenever we were sick – she’d boil washed rice in the stock until it was soft and mushy, then add back shredded chicken meat and chopped spring onions, and serve it with slightly scary preserved cabbage.. ;-)

    Thanks again for always being so wonderful! xxx

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I love congee! That’s another of my favourite soups when we go for dim sum which we don’t do often enough. And I will try making white cut chicken next time I do this too. Thanks for all the cooking lessons :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hehe, I try to have something for everyone ! And just noticed I had ‘aromatic’ in there twice, so I’ve thrown in a ‘translucent’ instead. Revisions, revisions…

  5. Tutak

    Recently I’ve been doing a version of this with six organic chicken wings (which I chuck out as they get pretty tasteless) as part of my slimming regime….but will now try it with a whole chicken, sounds good. Anything to get rid of the memory of those scary Grandma chicken soups with the molten schmaltz-slick layered deep enough to choke a seagull…

  6. azélias kitchen

    I poach a whole chicken all the time either for soup for family meals or else to have for cold chicken in sandwiches, snacks and so on…the chicken broth soup is one of my daughter’s favourite.

    I’m like you I would be suspicious of such short time, but when doing Hainanese chicken I remember the chicken is suppose to simmer in the minimum way… so the water is kept below boiling. That soup would be perfect for a day like today!

  7. C

    It looks really lovely Joanna – I think your photo is great, I can never photograph savoury food to make it look anything other than a mess!

    I’ll have to try a version of this – neither of my grandmothers ever made chicken soup, I feel deprived!

  8. spiceandmore

    That soup looks yummy. I remember being sceptical when I first tried a Neil Perry recipe for chicken cooked this way (but in master stock), but it was an amazingly good end result. Try the master stock version sometime if you are feeling adventurous. I am sure if you google it you will come up with a recipe for it. Lots of unusual things like dried mandarin peel, etc in it. Make a list and visit a Chinese grocery store!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I immediately went looking to see what a ‘master stock’ might be and found it along with Neil Perry! Thanks Allison. Next time I go to Water Sky I might hunt those ingredients down and give it a go :)

  9. minadott

    I made a a variant of this soup yesteday and it was delicious – very clever way to cook the chicken. I needed to go out so I boiled up the bird as per instructions but then left it in the cooling water for about 3 hours while I was out. After I had taken the chicken off the bone I put bones back in the stock for another simmer for about an hour – do hope that this isn’t totally against the spirit of the recipe, but I felt sure there was more flavour to come out of those bones. Soup was fantastic and the chicken beautiful and moist – have printed this out for future reference so thank you

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Lynne I’m really pleased you tried it ! Good to know it stays happy in the cooling water for longer, gives you a bit more flexibility time wise. :)

Comments are closed.