Having come down with a cold recently, I decided the time had come to try a hand at making chicken soup. It’s something I always wanted to try, and while the canned stuff gets the job done it’s nowhere near as good as homemade. Fortunately, between my wife and me I’ve had a lesser case of this, and felt okay on and off to shop for what I needed—and then later to cook.
My mother often likes to make, as a winter meal or when people in the house are sick, a light form of chicken soup that she throws together in a crock pot with chicken, potatoes, and carrots. I wanted to do something very similar, but in a bigger batch than my small crock pot can manage—and quicker. Adding to the challenge was that because my wife eats low-carb, potatoes and carrots weren’t an option for her so I wanted to make a second soup with mostly just chicken.
Oddly, I couldn’t find any recipes for chicken soup with potatoes, but what I did discover was that chicken soup is apparently hard to screw up. My first go at it was a huge success, so I want to share my recipe.
Chicken soup with potatoes
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 12 oz. potatoes, cut in small chunks
- 12 oz. fresh boneless chicken pieces
- 6 oz. baby carrots
- 3 oz. celery
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
- Salt (preferably kosher or sea)
- Black pepper
Clean and cut potatoes. Chop celery into small pieces. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery to pot (4 qts. or more). Add chicken broth, bay leaf, and a little salt (about 1 tsp.) stir, and cover. Bring to a boil. After boiling, add Parmesan, stir, and reduce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes depending on desired doneness of potatoes and carrots. Re-cover. During simmer, cut chicken into small chunks: about an inch across. When potatoes and carrots are close to done, remove pot lid. Check broth for seasoning and add salt, pepper, parsley, etc. to taste. Remove bay leaf. Add chicken and return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer again. Cook for about 4 minutes, until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165°.
The potatoes I used were baby whites, the kind I buy when I make salt potatoes. Because the skin is thin on them, I didn’t bother peeling the potatoes. I like my potatoes and carrots very soft, and ended up simmering for 15 minutes to get there. The celery also came out soft; I wouldn’t have minded adding it a little later, but I was just as happy with the way they were.
What I liked most about this soup, hands down, was the broth. Everything else was great, but the broth was awesome. I remembered from an episode of Chopped that Geoffrey Zakarian likes to use Parmesan rinds in his soups to bring out amazing flavors. Also, I was aware that Parmesan is packed with glutamates for a rich, savory flavor. The quarter cup was an absolute wild guess, but it was right on the money.
It’s hard to say how many portions this makes. For my purposes, about three: I took about a third of it in a fairly large bowl, and got plenty of everything, and I’m just taking a wild guess that it was about a pint. I put the leftovers in a Pyrex 7-cup container, which it fills a little over halfway, so I think the math works out.
Since my wife can’t stand celery (except if it’s mush, like mine was—but why risk it), and shouldn’t be eating cooked carrots or potatoes, I went with something more basic for her. For the same amount of chicken I used three cups of broth, still the one bay leaf, same amount of Parmesan, and only salt as a seasoning. I tasted that broth during cooking and was quite happy with it as well. That made probably two portions, because it’s just meat and broth.
Unusually for me, I have no tweaks in mind for next time. I’m entirely satisfied with how this soup turned out, and would gladly make it the same way again. If you’ve never tried Parmesan in a soup, it’s time to take that delicious leap. I would at least suggest using actual cheese rather than the pre-grated stuff you shake on spaghetti. Probably high-quality cheese would be amazing, but the Wegmans brand shredded stuff was plenty good enough for me. I still had some on hand from the stuffed shells I made a while back.
Bonus benefit: If you cook your own soup, the steam in the kitchen is kind of a nice break for inflamed sinuses.