By Geraldine Campbell
If you have ever had from-scratch chicken soup, you know that there is no substitute for the real thing. This is especially true when you’re achy/sneezy/coughy/stuffy. Research shows that chicken soup is an effective remedy for the cold and flu — and it’s not just because it’s made with love (although we like to think that’s part of it). It soothes sore throats, nourishes your body with protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals, and, since chicken contains tryptophan, it may also boost your mood. It’s the ultimate comfort food — which is why you should always, always have a quart in your freezer, especially during cold and flu season.
The only question is: Which chicken soup recipe should you use?
This Is the Easiest, Most Versatile Chicken Soup Recipe
Over the years, we have recommended this super-fast chicken soup and this chicken lemon rice soup; I would argue, however, that this chicken noodle soup recipe from Smitten Kitchen is the only chicken soup recipe you need right now. Not only is it super-tasty, it’s also quick, easy, and versatile — the trifecta when it comes to any recipe. In total, it takes just about an hour to make. It doesn’t call for excessive slicing and dicing or any special ingredients, and is adaptable to whatever you have on hand.
I have made this soup, as the recipe calls for, with a whole chicken; I’ve also made it with just thighs, thighs and drumsticks, and just breasts. I have added ginger and garlic, substituted carrots for parsnips, doubled the veggies, thrown leftover spaghetti in the pot in place of egg noodles, and skipped the noodles entirely. It has always been delicious and just the thing I wanted to cure the sniffles or the cold-weather, pandemic-times blues.
These are my recipe notes and suggestions, which you can take or leave.
More aromatics are better. I highly recommend adding a clove or two (or three) of garlic and some ginger. I used about an inch, roughly chopped. Saute both with the onions for a zingier version of the original recipe.
Straining and skimming are optional. If you find straining and skimming fussy, go ahead and skip it. I found that I don’t need or want a totally clear broth. The only time I didn’t skip this step was when I used chicken thighs. In hindsight, I would have just trimmed some of the skin and fat before browning them.
Don’t skip the dill. You can use any herbs you like, and many recipes will call for parsley, but I found the dill to be a really refreshing addition. It’s super-aromatic and tastes kind of grassy, like spring.