Hug-In-A-Bowl Chicken Soup
Updated: Feb 20
It's that time of year when it feels like everyone you meet seems to have an ailment of some kind. The soft sound of coughing, spluttering and hacking of phlegm (too much?) can be heard across the office like a cacophony of doctor's waiting rooms.
Despite hundreds of years of research and 1 billion infections per year in the US alone, no cure has been found for the common cold. There's definitely money in the old Rhinovirus though (Look at me with the technical terms!), cold and flu is an industry in itself worth around $40 Billion (That's $40 per cold, who knew?).
Well hold my beer and watch this; we've got two remedies that costs no more than a few dollars and we think they are as good as any pill, potion or lotion on the market. and definitely more enjoyable to consume.
Irish Chicken Soup
1 Bottle of Irish Whiskey
Pour 50ml of Whiskey Into a glass
Wait 20 minutes.
Feel better? if not, add 50ml more whiskey
Health Warning: Of course, we're joking. Drinking alcohol to ease the effects of a cold is not a medically recommended way to deal with an ailment regardless of how much fun it might be. Man Cave Fire will accept no liability arising from your use or misuse of the above recipe. Please Drink Responsibly.
Hug-In-A-Bowl Chicken Soup
3 Large Carrots rough chopped
1 Large Onion rough chopped
3 Sticks of Celery rough chopped
1 Can / cob of Sweetcorn (Whole Kernels)
1 Whole Chicken
1 Glass of White Wine
2 Sprigs of Thyme
4 Pints / 2 Liters of Chicken Stock
2 Crushed cloves of Garlic
Salt & Black Pepper
1 Pack of Noodles (Chinese Egg Noodles are good)
1 Handful of Chopped Parsley for garnish
Sour Cream (Optional)
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (Optional)
Chopped Chilli (Optional)
OK, before we start with the recipe steps, I was actually considering making this a "Quick or Quality" recipe as there are sooooo many little shortcuts you can take in the preparation of this dish to do it super quick and easy and still get great results. For the purists among you, taking the longer more epicurean route will yield a thing of beauty. So choose your weapon, I'll put the shortcuts in the tips & tricks section at the end so if you're not in the mood for taking your time, and want to cut straight to the eating, go there first.
Divide your chicken into 8 pieces (legs, breasts, wings, thighs) and fry in a little oil and butter in the bottom of a large saucepan until browned. If you would rather have your soup without bones, have at it and buy de-boned chicken or boneless thighs, just don't use chicken breasts, they will be dry and tasteless. Skin is full of flavour and should be left on but if you're watching the waistline, remove it.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Fry the onion, celery and carrot with the garlic and 1 sprig of thyme. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Once the vegetables have fried for a few minutes and started to soften, pour in the glass of wine and stir in to the vegetables to de-glaze the pan (get all the sticky bits of chicken of the bottom of the pan into your soup)
After a couple of minutes of cooking off the wine, pour in the chicken stock and bring the whole thing up to a simmer. You can ladle the stock in slowly if you're just like that (and have too much free time) but the improvement to the finished dish will be negligible
Add the chicken, sweetcorn and the remaining sprig of thyme to the pot, put on a lid and leave on low heat for around an hour stirring occasionally.
After an hour, adjust the salt and pepper to your taste, add the noodles, give the soup a good stir and leave for 10 minutes with the .lid on but the heat off.
Ladle into an oversize soup bowl sprinkled with parsley, for extra points add a spoonful of cold sour cream and/or a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese
Serve Immediately with a "hunk" of crusty buttered bread
Eat and instantly feel any germs and general badness start to leave your body as a warm wave of goodness washes over you!.
Tips & Tricks
Not everyone wants to take hours to make a bowl of soup no matter how good it may be so there are a bunch of shortcuts possible with this dish to make super tasty soup in a hurry:
Rotisserie chicken - Cut out the butchering and raw meat handling by just buying a freshly cooked chicken from the grocery. The added advantage is you can easily shred it or cut it off the bone. It might feel like cheating but hey, rotisserie chicken is still a cooked fresh chicken.
Noodles - The noodles in this recipe really cook themselves in the broth so it's not hard work but for a little "trailer park chic", use packaged chicken super noodles for a little "fake chicken" flavour and an instant taste of your childhood or student days. Also, I'm a big fan of the thick noodles like the straight-to-wok Udon noodles you can buy.
Stock - Home mode chicken stock is a thing of beauty but it's also a labour of love. A stock made from bouillon, stock cubes or concentrated stock is perfectly acceptable for those without the time to boil down those bones and these days most good grocery stores will have fresh chicken stock in the chiller cabinet.
If you prefer your soup smooth and creamy rather than brothy (not a word) and chunky, simply remove the chicken from the bone and blend the whole thing up with a stick blender then stir in the cream until it's the consistency you like. Just remember, no adult likes chicken flavored baby food so have some extra chicken stock ready to go if it's too thick and blend it until it's smooth, with no lumps.
If you want a slightly more hearty dish, add a decent handful of Pearl Barley at the simmering stage, it will thicken up the dish more and make it much more filling.
As with most soups, this will freeze well so scale up the ingredients and hold off on the noodles until you've hived off a few portions for the freezer and you're good to go. Just remember to wait until it's fully cooled before freezing. The soup can be easily reheated in the microwave or on the stove and the noodles stirred in just before serving.
Got a vegetarian in your group or someone who doesn't like Chicken? No worries, swap out the Chicken Stock for vegetable stock, the chicken for tomatoes, the Thyme for Oregano, and Basil and noodles for spaghetti and voila, Minestrone!
If I'm making this for myself to cure a cold and it's a real doozy, I pull out the big guns and chop a whole Habanero chilli with seeds and all into my soup, I find it kind of "nukes" the cold and clears the sinuses for a bit. Go careful if you're not a spice nut. Your taste buds are so numbed when you have cold that you can afford to use a little more than you normally would. Just think about your guests if they are not dying of the deadly man or woman-flu.
Normally I love chicken skin but if you leave it on after you re-introduce the chicken in this recipe, it's going to be, well, kinda slimy. I don't mind it but it's not for everyone. A little cheffy tip is to remove the skin after the initial browning and lay out on a baking sheet and dry out in a low oven whilst you make the rest of the soup. The crispy skin makes a nice crunchy addition to the top of the soup and if you want to get all "cordon bleau", put a dollop (good word) of sour cream into the soup just before serving and balance a shard of chicken skin in it. Presentation people [air finger snap] we eat with our eyes first!
Not essential but try to remember to fish out the Thyme sprigs beforfe serving if you can as they're a bit woody and not particularly pleasant. If you forget and someone ends up with it stuck between their teeth, the word you need to use is "Rustic" or "Home-Style" before quickly changing the subject.
A good chicken soup really needs to taste of chicken (No $h!t Sherlock) so make sure you keep tasting. If it's a bit watery, or doesn't have depth of flavour, boil the soup down a little further or add another chicken stock cube. Also seasoning is super important, chicken loves black pepper so go a little heavier than normal. Salt also will bring out the flavour but be careful, stock is naturally salty, already Taste, taste, taste.
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