I always wanted to make my own chicken soup, but the recipes seemed so complicated. (Looking at you, Binging with Babish, whose recipe includes at least 11 ingredients and three fresh herbs.)
Public service announcement: You don’t need all that stuff!
Chicken + onions taste great on their own. Add some carrots for color and variety, and some ginger for dimension, and this is a filling, warming, MINIMAL-EFFORT meal.
- One whole chicken, fresh or frozen
- Three white onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- Baby carrots, approx. 1 lb or 454 g
- Ginger, thinly sliced
- + salt, pepper
1. In a 6-quart or larger enameled Dutch oven, place the chicken, salt and pepper (easier to tell how much you’re adding when you salt + pepper a dry chicken), ginger (see notes below for quantity), onions, and carrots.
2. Add enough water to cover everything by an inch. (This may be impossible depending on how the chicken is configured; sometimes the water only comes halfway up the chicken before you’re at risk of the pot over-boiling. That’s okay, you can always add more water later.)
3. Put the stove on maximum heat and bring to a boil (takes about 10–25 min). Then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours.
If the whole chicken didn’t fit in the pot with the lid on/under the water initially, break the chicken up into pieces about halfway through the cooking time, and add more water.
4. When done, remove solids to a plate and allow to cool. Separate the chicken into three bowls: meat, edible gelatinous bits and skin, and bones. (This is super gross, but it has to be done.)
Optional: For optimal nutrition, put the edible gelatinous bits and skin back in the pot of liquid and blend with an immersion blender. (I find this results in sub-optimal taste and texture, though. I’ll report back if I find a better method.)
Cooling and storage
(Ignore this part if you’re serving the soup to several people immediately.)
To cool the liquid, ladle it into a roasting tin. The large surface area helps it cool down faster. Alternatively, strain into a metal bowl and place the bowl in a sink filled with ice water.
When cool (about 30 min later), I ladle the liquid into 1-cup silicone soup freezer trays and add equal quantities of chicken, carrots, and onions. You could use lots of ice cube trays instead.
Or perhaps you’re an organized person who always eats what’s in the fridge before it goes bad, and you don’t have to rely on freezing everything. In that case, you have 5 days to eat this from the fridge 😛
It’s amazing what a difference organic, air-chilled chicken makes here. It’s worth the extra money, because you don’t have to skim gross grey “scum” off the top of the soup while it’s cooking (like you would with regular factory-farm chicken).
You can also make this same recipe with beef instead of chicken; 750 g to 1 kg is a good amount (around 2 lb). Again, organic and grass-fed is better.
Don’t chop them too small, or they’ll break down too much in the soup and become mushy. Chopped into quarters, then halves of those quarters, is good enough.
You can use any carrots you want, but I prefer baby carrots because there’s no need to wash, peel, or chop them—just add them to the pot straight from the bag.
Buy organic ginger so you don’t need to peel it. If you really want to peel it, the back of a spoon works better than a knife. I love ginger so I use lots of it (like two to three walnut-sized pieces, thinly sliced), but you can use however much you want.
Pro tip: Wash, dry, and chop all your ginger at once, then store it in the freezer. Add it directly to soup, or pour boiling water over it to make ginger tea.
Optional additional ingredients
I’ve heard lemongrass essential oil is really good in chicken soup, but I can’t find a food-grade version anywhere. I’m not organized enough to keep real lemongrass in the fridge; it will definitely rot before I get around to using it 😛
Any Italian herb or French “herbes de Provence” is good here (e.g., rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, sage, bay leaves).
You can cook this in any lidded pot that fits 6 quarts or greater, or an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot), or a slow cooker—anything goes.
I’ve tried it in the Instant Pot (to cook from frozen, do high pressure for 40 min and natural release) and on the stovetop, and I like the stovetop version better.
The stovetop chicken stock is gelatinous at fridge temperature—all that gelatin? collagen? whatever it is, is so good for you! Don’t worry, it turns back into liquid when heated.
I highly recommend the Artisan Kitchen Brand Dutch ovens from Bed Bath and Beyond, which cost around $100. They’re oven-safe up to 450 °F, whereas Le Creuset ones (with the standard black knobs on the lids) are only oven safe up to 375 °F, which is ridiculous given that they cost $400.
 “Stock and chicken noodle soup” by Andrew Rea, Basics with Babish.https://basicswithbabish.co/basicsepisodes/2017/10/23/sauces-9w5tm-2njph-5ahwj-hsl7s-fh6cr
 Not sponsored; I bought three of these 1-cup freezer trays from Brothboxx solely for this recipe. (Souper sells a similar product.) You could also use 2-tbsp freezer trays (meant for baby food), or popsicle molds, if you happen to have those instead. The point is to be able to take a few cubes out of the freezer, pop them in a bowl, and microwave them, thereby making this a maximally convenient meal.