The ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series has always intrigued me and I’ve thought of picking up one numerous times. But never followed through. Instead, I make chicken soup that does in fact wam the body and soul frequently during autumn and winter.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can produce two distinct experiences. One, a clear soup with lots of floating vegetables and shredded chicken and the other a thicker, blended soup topped with chicken. Each takes approximately 30 minutes to cook. I enjoy pairing these with either a slice of toasted bread, often a slice of baguette or topping my bowl with some croutons.
Here’s how to make Chicken Soup for the soul, two ways:
Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cooking Time: 30 to 40 minutes
- Bone-in Chicken legs – 4 to 5 (1.2 to 1.5 lbs or 600 gms),
- Garlic – 2 to 3 cloves, crushed and chopped,
- Ginger – 1 inch piece, julienned,
- Onion – 1 medium sized,
- Carrots – 2 to 3 good sized, peeled and chopped,
- Celery – 2 to 3, peeled and chopped,
- Tomato – 1 large or use 2 small,
- Spinach – 1/2 a bag about 5 oz or 100 gms,
- Bay leaves – 1 or 2 (optional),
- Black cardamom – 1 or 2 (optional),
- Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp (optional),
- Salt and pepper to taste,
- Water as needed,
- Parsley or coriander for garnish.
To get started prepare all the vegetables. Wash carrots, celery, tomato and rinse spinach under running water. With a kitchen towel pat dry carrots and celery. Use a peeler and peel them, then chop into chunky pieces. I peel celery to remove some of the fibrous outer layer. Also because I have to cater to a fussy eater who doesn’t want to be bothered by chewing too much!
Next, slice tomato and onion. Keep the slices thick. Wash and peel ginger. Then finely slice it into julienned pieces. If that’s tough, you could also just peel it into fine slivers. To prepare garlic, I prefer to smash it under a knife, then peel and chop. Smashing loosens the skin of garlic pods and they easily slide out. So no more peeling with a knife or ruining your fingertips. Finely chop the garlic.
Next, the chicken. Typically chicken legs are available with the skin on in supermarkets. I prefer to remove the skin. But that is entirely optional. An easy trick to remove the skin is to use a paper towel. Take a sheet of paper towel and use that to hold the skin (as if it were a glove) and pull the skin off. Try it. It has always worked for me.
Put a large, deep pot on the stove on medium heat. Then add oil to it, followed by garlic, ginger, bay leaves and black cardamom. Saute until garlic starts browning. Next, add onions and saute until just translucent. After this add chicken legs and saute on high heat. Finally, tip in all the vegetables and add 2-3 cups of water or enough to cover everything. Cover the pot and cook for 30-40 minutes. I prefer using a pressure cooker which shortens the cooking time considerably.
If you have a traditional whistle style pressure cooker, then cook on high heat until you get two whistles. Then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for another 10 minutes (the whistle might blow once or twice again). After this turn off the heat and allow the pressure to reduce before opening the lid. If using a deep pot (cast iron, non stick or stainless steel) cook on high heat until the soup comes to a roaring boil. Boil for 5 minutes on high, then reduce heat to medium, put on the lid and cook until chicken looks done. Check by inserting a fork in the flesh. It should be opaque rather than pink.
Converting one recipe to two types of soups
Once the broth is ready, it’s time to decide how your soup is going to look. Before that, using tongs pick out the chicken legs. Place them on a chopping board (try using a designated board for meats) and let them cool before cutting or shredding.
If you are in the mood for clear soup, just ladle it, top it with chicken and get ready for dinner.
Or to blend, transfer the entire soup, vegetables and all, except the chicken in to a blender jar and puree. Be careful to not blend extremely hot food.
Warm up the pureed soup before serving and top it with shredded chicken. Garnish with parsley or coriander.
That’s it, Chicken Soup Two Ways is Done!