Roasted chicken soup for the banged-up soul
April 25th, 2011
03:00 PM ET
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Pray that I never serve you my chicken soup.

It's not that I make bad chicken soup – on the contrary. I craft mine with love, care, a whole roasted chicken, homemade stock, fresh herbs and meticulously prepared, in-season vegetables. It is, by all accounts, pretty spectacular and soothing stuff.

It's good for what ails you - and that's the problem. If I'm making this soup for you, things are not going well in your world, and it's the only way I can think to help. I'm not a physician, therapist, social worker, lawyer or member of the clergy. I can, however, feed you right now and leave a batch of it the freezer so later, when I'm not around you can serve yourself a good, solid, home-cooked meal without having to think too much about it.

I'll admit that the act of crafting this meal for someone is potentially a tad selfish on my part. I'm worried about you and feel helpless, and the action and ritual keep my brain and my hands busy. If you're feeling well enough and need the distraction, you can come with me to the market (I'm paying - don't you dare argue), but otherwise, I'll show up at your door, supplies in hand.

Chop, chop, baste, stir. If you want, you can sit at the kitchen table so we can talk while I'm working, or you can go put your feet up and zone out, nap, or head out to spend time with the person over whom you've been so worried. Take your time. When you're ready, dinner will be waiting.

Kat's Crisis Chicken Soup
Traditionalists might not subscribe to this method, but it's worked for me time and time again and it's good for at least a couple of hearty meals. The measurements are not precise, but this recipe is endlessly forgiving and can be adapted to include whatever's in the fridge at the time.

1 whole chicken
Carrots
Celery
Onion
Fresh herbs (I like thyme and rosemary)
Bay leaf
1 whole lemon
Kosher salt
Garlic
Olive oil
Water
Vegetables of your choice

Fill a large pot 2/3 with water and heat burner to medium. Roughly chop 1-2 carrots (no need to peel) and add to the pot with several celery stalks and half a large peeled onion or a whole medium onion, cut in two. Add a fistful of kosher salt, a bay leaf and several sprigs of thyme (if you're using that).

Using poultry shears or a sharp knife, cut the backbone from the chicken and add it to the pot. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the temperature, cover, and let the contents simmer.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425°F, making sure that the racks are placed so a chicken in a roasting pan fits comfortably in the middle of the oven.

In a food processor, blender or using a fork in a bowl, blend together olive oil, several tablespoons of kosher salt, 2-3 cloves of garlic, as many fresh herbs as you'd like, the juice of the lemon, and slices of the rind until it forms a slurry. Rub this under the chicken's skin, as well as over the entire outside.

Spread open the chicken like a book, skin side up, and place on a rack in a roasting pan, or lay the chicken over several horizontally-placed celery stalks in the pan. Place in oven and baste with pan juices as needed.

When skin is distinctly golden brown and crispy, lower the heat to 350°F and continue to monitor and baste until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F at the thickest part, but without touching any bones.

Once you've lowered the temperature, on racks above and below the chicken, slide in sheets of chopped vegetables you've brushed with pan drippings. Butternut squash, cauliflower, corn and broccoli all work well in this soup. Roast until softened and browned.

Serve whatever parts of the chicken you'd like (along with any of the vegetables), removing the meat from the carcass.

Remove the skin from the uneaten portions and discard. Place the leftover meat, bones and vegetables in the stock pot, add in any leafy vegetables (kale works well) and simmer for an hour until flavors meld.

Remove from the heat and once the soup has cooled enough, remove the celery, carrots, onion halves, bay leaf and bones, skim the fat from the top, then refrigerate the rest for a few hours or overnight.

Heat individual portions on the stove top or in the microwave and freeze in individual containers for later use.

Note: Spices like star anise, coriander, smoked paprika and others add a distinctive flavor note to the soup and can be added at any stage.

Got a food ritual you share with friends and family who are feeling down? Please share it in the comments below.

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Filed under: Favorites • Feed the Soul • Make • Recipes • Sick Food • Soup • Staples


soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Ann

    I always like to put a bunch of parsley to chicken soup ... stems and all. Kohlrabi is also a terrific addition ... just peel and cut into bite-sized chunks. It adds a wonderful flavor.

    January 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  2. ELISSA

    FOR ABOUT $ 7.00 YOU CAN BUY FROM LOCAL SUPERMARKET A FULLY COOKED HONEY CHICKEN. I WING,1 LEG AND 1 THIGH MAKES ONE DINNER, SLICE OFF SEVERAL THIN SLICES OF WHITE MEAT FOR SANDWICHES. YOU HAVE NOW FED 4 PEOPLE. LETS GO TO SOUP.
    MICROWAVE 1 LARGE SLICED ONION, 2 LG CLOVES MINCED GARLIC,CHOPPED MUSHROOMS,A SHAKE OF GINGER,CHOPPED PARSLEY,SEA SALT,GOOD GRIND PEPPER,A SHAKE OF ORAGANO, ABOUT 3 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL AND A GULP OF GINGER ALE. ADD THIS SOFTEN GLOP TO 2 CANS CHICHEN STOCK, ADD REST OF CHICKEN CUBED(NO BONE), CHOPPED CARROT,CELERY,FROZEN PEAS,FROZEN CORN, CUBED POTATO, STRING BEANS FROZEN, TOMATO OR LEFT OVER PASTA. MICROWAVE FOR 10 MIN. ON HIGH, STIR COOL AND MICROWAVE ANOTHER 10 MIN.IF TOO DRY ADD MORE GINGER ALE. ENOUGH TO FEED 4 MORE PEOPLE. YOU HAVE NOW FEED A TASTY MEAL TO 8 PEOPLE ON ONE CHICKEN. YUMMMMMM

    February 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • Ann

      While the basic ingredients sound interesting, I think the pasta would turn to mush after being microwaved for 20 minutes. Better to add it at the end. Also ... you're missing out on a lot of flavor by not simmering the bones. I guess if making something quick is your main objective, it works.

      January 3, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  3. Multi-Tasking @ Work

    Sounds like pure comfort soup....I add ground up Ginger & drop a couple Star Anise in my Chicken Soup. the finishing touch is Cayenne Pepper, not too much.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  4. Caroline

    When I was sick, my mom would bring me popsicles and ginger ale if I could not eat. If I could eat, I liked Campbell's tomato soup (with milk added instead of water) and a grilled cheese sandwich.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
  5. liam1234

    This chicken soup looks very nice, I will try it one day. Meanwhile, I will recommend a very great website to you guys, it is http://www.fourgreensteps.com/marketplace/, one of the largest green product website in the world.

    May 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  6. flubrearraPle

    :)

    May 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  7. Dimitri Snowden

    This is good stuff. Thanks for sharing! It's interesting how chicken soup has a spiritual association. I wonder what's good when your soul is at peace?

    ~Dimitri Snowden

    April 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  8. Popeye

    The only thing i see that hasn't been addressed is skimming the fat. If you go through the trouble of refrigerating the soup or the broth overnight before serving, just wait until the liquid is refrigerator cold to remove the fat, because by then it is congealed and solid on the top.

    Don't forget some good bread, rolls or biscuits to go with that fine soup.

    April 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  9. Steph

    Hi

    April 26, 2011 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • Jerv

      Hello.

      April 26, 2011 at 9:05 am | Reply
      • The Witty One@Jerv

        Best post i've seen yet :)

        April 26, 2011 at 9:49 am | Reply
      • Snowbunny

        LOL!

        April 26, 2011 at 11:30 am | Reply
  10. Jerv

    It's gonna be a good day! Not only did I score a great new reicipe I just found a great new alternative music web station.

    Interesting, "skim the fat from the top, then refrigerate the rest for a few hours or overnight."

    My pop uses this same technique when making his chicken soup.

    April 26, 2011 at 7:18 am | Reply
  11. sweetneddy

    Seems to me that fishing out the bones, carrots and celery, while leaving the veggies you want, would be a pain. Simmer your flavorings and bones, then strain, then add your final vegetables – let this simmer for a bit, then add the meat. Oh...and don't forget to roast a head of garlic with the chicken, smash and add the bulbs to the stock...so good.

    April 26, 2011 at 6:52 am | Reply
    • Shirley U Jest

      The first batch of vegetables is used to flavor the soup water, a.k.a. broth. Their flavors are basically cooked out of the vegetable so that is why they get the toss.

      April 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  12. Shirley U Jest

    Wait, you go through the trouble of making perfect golden chicken skin and throw it away? Are you crazy? Add it to the stock for extra flavor and remove it before you assemble the soup. Or for you crispy skin lovers, remove the skin and broil it until crunchy, thinly slice and use as a garish, but I' not into that myself. Throw away the bones? Again, are you crazy? That's where the flavor is. Again, toss them in the stock pot,, break them in half to get the marrow into the broth and then strain them out with the rest of the junk in the pot. by the way, you don't need to peel that onion, add a halved or quartered onion skin and all, the skin gives the broth a nice color.

    What's easier still is bake the whole chicken, spice the way you wish, slice off the breast meat for sandwiches and use the rest of the chicken for soup. Add in the chicken towards the end because you don't want to boil the flavor out of the meat.

    April 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  13. Alison

    Thank you Kat. I just came across your article, and maybe it was the title, but it was the very thing I needed. Perfect timing. I can't wait to make this soup. First batch is for me, but I promise to share with others.

    April 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      Glad to be of help and I hope it does you good.

      April 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  14. da funkee 1

    My moms chicken soup is great. When I'm ill or Just need some love, I beg her to make her chicken soup. She puts cabbage in it as well. Even when I'm trying to lose a few pounds quickly or I have an up tummy I go rummaging in her freezer in hopes of finding a frozen bowl. You're right, that soup cures whatever ails you. Cold, flu, a few extra pounds or a broken heart!

    April 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  15. Erin

    Sounds awesome. I like to add some ground ginger to mine as well.

    April 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  16. joanpa

    I use food to convey my support to loved ones in times of distress. I don't know why chicken soup hasn't made my list (I'm big on lasagna), but it will now. I actually make really good chicken soup - roast the chicken, not boil.

    April 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  17. tmontagna

    I make soup some kind of soup for everyone I care about when they are sick or in crisis; it's the only thing I can think of to do! Everyone has their favorites, I keep a list and make sure I fill up their frig, it's my way to show I care.

    April 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • MaggieJS

      I have a biserable code id by node...cad you cub over?

      April 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  18. Bruce

    I feel much, much better just reading this. It really works!

    April 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  19. kaden

    Dark thigh meat. The secret.

    April 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Reply
    • curt

      Extra-Kidney's?

      April 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  20. curt

    No need to peel the carrots? Maybe if you like dirt and whatever they sprayed on the carrots in your food.

    April 25, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Reply
    • curt

      Greasy.

      April 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      Well, I do wash 'em.

      April 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Reply
    • Jo Major Ciolino

      ALWAYS peel carrots. ALWAYS.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Reply
    • Ann

      Um, it's kinda hard to spray anything on a carrot when it's growing UNDERGROUND.

      Scrubbing them with a stiff brush is plenty. Peeling is optional. I use them both ways.

      January 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  21. Kenny Wayne

    Use the onion skins & ends in the stock (yellow onions) It will make a rich golden color.
    I agree Kat always roast a chicken, I Never boil to make chicken soup, gumbo or any chicken casserole dish.
    Roast first, remove meat & throw the bones in the stock pot.

    April 25, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  22. sunny lovetts

    Meat is murder!Just kidding lol.

    April 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Reply
    • Ray

      I'm going vegetarian for two months...and in all seriousness, that's the first thing that popped into my head. Can't wait to squash it with a nice tall glass of gravy and a side of deep fried chicken...just 4 more weeks to go.

      April 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Reply
      • Snowbunny@Ray

        Why are you going vegan for 2 months?

        April 26, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply
  23. yvie

    mmm mmm – good!

    April 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  24. Eric

    I’m sorry, I’m missing something. Early in the recipe it says to cut the backbone of the chicken and put it in the pot with the water and vegetables, to bring it to a boil, and to let it simmer.

    Later it says to put the oil, salt, garlic and lemon mixture under the skin of the chicken and to put it in the oven. Is this the same chicken? Isn’t it going to fall apart if it has been boiled and simmered? Or is that just for a few minutes?

    April 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      The backbone goes in the pot at the beginning. The rest of the chicken gets roasted, well, like a chicken, and then you use the leftovers for the soup. Two meals in one!

      April 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Reply
    • Butterflying

      When you butterfly a chicken (for grilling, often) you have to remove the backbone so you can flatten the chicken. It gives you the two breasts and the breast bone splayed out. It roasts faster this way in the oven and can help keep the bird juicy. Not a bad method to try. Youtube how to buttery a chicken and you'll see what the author means.

      April 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  25. Novel1

    Pardon me for trying to improve your recipe, but braising the vegetables in a hot fry pan before adding them to the stock will improve the flavor of any soup stock. My chicken soup recipe has about 100 ingredients, including coffee, peanut butter and mustard - but in small amounts. It builds the stock's "body" up to a savory yield that is almost miraculous.

    April 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      I very much need to know more about that.

      April 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Reply
    • John

      This,

      Also Leeks add a nice flavor over onions.

      April 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  26. LaRee

    This looks like a great receipt for diabetics.

    April 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  27. dwt

    Good stuff. Good idea.

    April 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  28. ridinmom

    As much as the recipe, I like your reason for making it. :)

    April 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  29. Nicole

    I like to add a handful of fresh tarragon, some white wine and celery salt to mine...

    April 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      That sounds fantastic! I will definitely give that a try. Celery, celery seed, celery root and celery salt make just about any dish better.

      April 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
      • RabiaDiluvio

        Own a pressure cooker? You can make a fantasticly rich stock and the soup that results is out of this world.

        April 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  30. SeaBee@Kat and Mildred

    Kat – Sounds fantastic... I may have to try this
    Mildred – Please feel free to share a recipe! I love cabbage soup, having lived in Eastern Europe.

    April 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • Mildred

      My recipe's a bit of a mish-mash of several, but based on my memory of Mr Alston's recipe (my Russian Language teacher in high school).

      April 26, 2011 at 9:17 am | Reply
  31. Mildred

    It's a similar ritual when I make schi (a Russian cabbage soup).

    April 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  32. Truth, Temporary Bachelor

    Kind of a food ritual, more like a mispronounciation ritual...My wife likes to make rock cornish game hens, but calls them "baby chickens". She gets some interesting looks at the meat counter when she has to ask for one.

    April 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  33. Evil Grin

    Sounds really good. I could use some of that.

    April 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply

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