The weather. A topic that never fails to pop up in daily small talk, morning news broadcasts, and these days – on facebook/instagram/twitter/blogs/etc. I think it will always be this way, and I am guilty of it, too. But today, I am not here to complain about the fact that Spring is still hiding behind chilly days filled with rain and gloom. I am here to tell you about my new favorite soup.
I can’t really take credit for this genius, so-simple-but-so-good soup. The credit would have to go to Williams-Sonoma, via my amazing parents. Because when your dad tells you raves about a soup that he just made (and, my dad is not one who raves about just anything), and your mom tells you on no less than eight separate occasions afterward just how good the soup is… you make the damn soup.
I like to think that I am pretty fearless in the kitchen, and that I have more experience cooking certain things than a lot of other 25-year-olds (read: I have middle-aged tendencies) BUT. I have never prepared, in any way, a whole chicken. Now, taking a clean, whole chicken from Trader Joe’s and boiling it with water and other broth-flavorings is probably not something to brag about, but that’s what I did to make this soup. And it was a little scary, to be quite honest, but I did it. And the delicious, perfectly seasoned, flavorful broth that resulted? Worth every terrifying minute. (Alright, sure, I am being slightly dramatic, but this is coming from the girl that didn’t eat chicken for something like a year or two after seeing a raw one for the first time. So, you know.)
I didn’t do much to alter the original recipe – subbed cilantro for parsley, started with a mirepoix when putting the soup together (I love that word) and added quite a bit more spinach. I know it would be just as good without these tweaks, but thought I would put my tiny spin on this stellar recipe. Just in time to give you something worth surviving these extra weeks of winter.
Chicken Soup with Lemon and Spinach
Adapted (slightly) from Williams-Sonoma
For the broth:
1 whole chicken, about 3 ½ pounds
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2-inch piece fresh ginger
1 onion, unpeeled and halved
2 celery stalks, quartered
2 large carrots, unpeeled and quartered
Handful of stems of fresh cilantro
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
Freshly grated ginger
Sriracha to taste
Place chicken in a large stockpot. Add bouillon cubes, 2-inch piece of ginger, onion, celery, carrots, cilantro, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Fill pot with cold water to cover all ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer, occasionally skimming any foam from surface, until juices run clear when you pierce thickest part of thigh, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove chicken from the pot and transfer to a plate. Let cool. Using a colander, strain stock, discarding solids. Line a fine-mesh sieve with two layers of cheesecloth. Strain stock through sieve to remove fat. Rinse pot.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot (you won’t need one as big as the stockpot, but use what you have) over medium heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened. Add stock to the mixture and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Once chicken is cool enough to handle, use your fingers to remove and shred meat, discarding skin and bones. Add shredded meat to pot with stock and pour in any juices that have collected on plate. Bring to a boil, add spinach and stir just until wilted.
Turn off heat. Ladle soup into individual bowls and stir in grated ginger (1/2-1 teaspoon each, depending on taste preference). Serve at once with lemon wedges and Sriracha sauce. Serves 6-8.
Additional serving suggestions: We had this with some simple buttered toast the first night, and over orzo the second. Both were delicious. My mom likes hers with barley. Make it your own!