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I have no problem with making homemade chicken broth on days when I’m flush with either money or chicken, as well as time. It’s also my go-to if someone’s got a bad cold, the flu, or an on-going dauncy tummy.
Listen to the song “Chicken Soup with Rice” (Carol King/Maurice Sendak) while you read the post.
While that blessed, legendary healthful pot is welcome in my kitchen on any of those slow-cooking days, I long ago realized how many chickens it took to make it and that the meat was rather useless once you’d wrung all the taste out of it into a gallon or two of water. (The dogs didn’t know the difference when they ate that chicken; don’t tell them now either.) Just as there are more ways to skin the cat, there are also certainly shortcut broths –where the chicken or turkey isn’t cooked to its sad, stringy death– and you make tasty use of it in that day’s soup. Some of those use raw poultry and others a cooked bird. I’ve even tossed rotisserie (or my own roasted) chicken bones into the water bath at the end of its useful life on earth and gotten one last hurrah out of a so very sorry carcass. We’d call that chicken stock. And then, I’ll also tell you I buy cases of organic low sodium chicken broth because…well, just because I often like to make soup in a half hour. There it is.
What’s the difference between broth and stock? It’s a simple, but important distinction: broth is made from meat (as in, I’m going to cook a whole raw chicken in this pot of water) and stock is made from bones (as in, I’m using chicken bones or the whole carcass to create mine). Both utilize vegetables and usually herbs, too. Copious amounts of salt and whole peppercorns are in order for either and you could probably figure that broths and stocks are drained through a fine mesh strainer into another pot. Most of the leftovers–referred to as solids in recipes– get pitched, though I have been known to purée the vegetables and put them into some soups. I do this not because I’m cheap, but because they lend flavor, color, and texture–to say nothing of making use of every little thing. If you don’t want color, skip adding puréed carrots! A rambling discourse on this in a post about making one of Ina Garten’s soups that turned into Alyce’s soup.
Today’s soup is the kind of meal made when chicken soup is needed FAST. Like if someone has an all of a sudden grumbly tumbly, nasty nose, frozen toes, or maybe a new knee. Or, if you, like my hub, got both the flu and pneumonia vaccines on the same day–arghh–and paid the price all weekend long. Even if everyone is healthy and out skiing or ice fishing or maybe there are simply a slew of hungry kids, you’re all set for dinner. It’s the sort of go-to I keep all of the ingredients ready-to-go for any day of the year and you, too, can keep the basics at home or in the cabin or condo. Frozen boneless chicken thighs: check. Onions, carrots, garlic, and celery: check. Rice: check. BOXED CHICKEN BROTH: check. Ok, that’s basically it. Dried herbs are fine here and are, perhaps, better than fresh, though you’ll need parsley. ( More Time Tip: Don’t ever be without parsley. Even if you have to carry it in your purse with a cold pack.) Try this on for size today and you’ll be ready to make it again post haste when you need it:
oh-so-easy chicken soup with rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne—optional
- Large yellow onion, diced
- Small fennel bulb, diced (can sub ½ cup frozen peas added for the last few minutes of cooking)
- 4 stalks celery, sliced thinly
- 2 teaspoons EACH dried rubbed sage and dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon dill weed
- 1 bay leaf
- Handful minced fresh parsley—reserve a few sprigs for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 8 cups chicken broth, low sodium (64 ounces)
- 3 cups water—or more, if needed
- 4 large carrots, trimmed and peeled, sliced into thin coins
- ¾ cup white rice—Can sub brown rice, but cook it half-way in a separate pot before adding to the soup for the last 20 minutes
- In an 8 or 10-quart soup pot, warm the oil over medium-high flame until shimmering—a minute or two. Add chicken; season with a teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and cayenne, if using. Sauté until pieces are about half-way done, but still somewhat pink at center. Tip in onion, fennel, and celery; season with the herbs (sage, thyme, dill, bay, and parsley) and another ½ teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender, adding garlic for last two minutes. Pour in wine and simmer a few minutes until wine is reduced by half. Pour in broth and water; cover and raise heat to a boil. Taste; adjust seasonings, including dry herbs. Add carrots and rice, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. Cook uncovered another 20 minutes or until all vegetables, chicken, and rice are tender. Pour in a little extra water if soup becomes too thick; it should remain quite brothy. Taste and adjust seasonings one last time. Serve hot garnished with a little of the reserved parsley.Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes!
If you liked this, you might also like my LATE SUMMER CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE SOUP WITH RICE. Today’s soup is a sister streamlined version for an even zippier supper.
I hope you like the new MORE TIME AT THE TABLE. I’m fiddling with this theme, so be patient. Meanwhile, I’m feeling content with the new look and hope you enjoy it. Thanks, as always, for reading and cooking along with me!
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While November waxes and wanes, consider the healthy, spiritual practice of giving thanks. You’ll be glad you did.