Run, Chicken, Run!—Mama Sophia’s Chicken Soup Recipe

Every week I have to make homemade chicken soup for the family. It’s a meal that pleases both The Princess and her dad. As for me, I wouldn’t be sad if I never saw another chicken again. But what I like about this recipe is that it has a lot of legs (pun intended). The broth can be used in other dishes like kimchee chigae (stew), miyook gook (seaweed soup), dumpling soup, udon soup, curry, paella, stuffing, stir-fry, and many other dishes that require chicken soup or stock. The chicken meat itself can be used for chicken salad, chicken tacos, chicken curry, chicken pot pie, and that’s just for starters.

You’ll find hundreds of recipes online, but what I like most about this chicken soup recipe is that it lends itself well for Asian cooking. The fresh ginger and garlic work well to help fight colds/flu, and my mother tells me that they cover the chicken funk smell.

Mama Sophia’s Chicken Soup Recipe

1 fresh organic chicken (about 2 1/2 – 3 lb)*
8 cups of water (enough to make sure the chicken is covered when it’s in the pot)
Fresh ginger (about size of thumb)
1 medium size onion
2 stalks of celery
2 medium carrots
1 bulb of garlic (about 10 cloves)

Put water in large stock pot and set to boil. Remove skin and innards** from chicken and put chicken into pot. (You don’t have to wait for the water to boil when you add the chicken).

Thinly slice ginger (about 2 mm thick) and fan out. (It’ll make it easier to remove later one). Put into pot.

Skim off the foam/residue/fat that floats to top for about the first 10 minutes. (This will ensure a cleaner/clearer soup). Be sure to keep skimming throughout the course of cooking the chicken.

Chop onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, and add to the pot. Add a little sea salt, or omit salt and encourage tasters to season on their own. Reduce heat so the water doesn’t boil over.

It takes about an hour for the chicken to cook. You’ll know when the chicken is done if it’s easy to move the leg from the joint.

Remove chicken from stock pot. Let it cool/rest for 5-10 minutes before separating meat from the bones.

“First press” of soup is ready to serve. I usually ladle the soup over the shredded chicken.

While everyone is eating, put the bones back into the pot and cook in the soup for another hour or so. You can add more water if you prefer, or just let the bones simmer a bit longer to add more flavor and nutrients to the soup.

When storing, be sure to strain the broth and keep it separated from the cooked vegetables, etc. I usually dump the cooked vegetables after the “second press,” since all the flavor is gone.

Notes:
*I prefer using fresh organic chicken even though it’s more expensive—it really makes a difference in the texture of meat and the taste of the soup. Another option is to use cornish hens. Even though there’s less meat, it’s very tender and flavorful as well. The Princess can definitely tell the difference between the meats. She barely touches the soup if I make it with frozen—little brat.

**Some people like the skin and innards and might choose to cook them separately. I usually toss them out.

My husband likes to eat his chicken soup with steamed rice and kimchee. He just mixes everything in together. My daughter prefers to eat her soup with steamed rice, and then have the chicken on the side where she can lightly “dip” into salt.

For a heartier soup, feel free to add potatoes. They usually take about 20 minutes to cook once you add them in the boiling pot. However, I usually don’t add potatoes when I have plans to use the broth for other things. They tend to mucky up the soup.

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