For many, the concept of chicken soup is either tied to matzo balls or feeding a multitude of sick family and friends.
Let me suggest that we take a step back from what we think we know and talk about how almost every culture has a version they believe is the original one.
We know that all you really need to make chicken soup is a chicken and a liquid (usually water) of some kind to cook it in. What parts of the chicken make the best soup? Well, hold on to your collective cooking hats, because with all my research there isn’t one part of the chicken (except the head and feathers) that one culture or another doesn’t use in some recipe for chicken soup.
As for chicken soup being good for you, it is, but it’s not a cure for the common cold. It’s just a helpful, delicious feel-better supplement. You’re supposed to drink plenty of liquids when you’re sick, so chicken soup works.
So with the weather changing, and our need to start planning our fall menus, I offer the following chicken soup-with-a-twist recipes that can be served to anyone looking for the perfect comfort food.
Quick and Easy Chicken and Green Onion Soup
2 cups brown rice or orzo prepared according to the package
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 egg whites
1 large egg
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
8 green onions, sliced thin
In a large saucepan combine the broth, sugar and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. In a small bowl combine the egg and egg whites and whisk to combine. Add chicken to the simmering broth. Cook for 2 minutes then slowly pour in the egg mixture, but don’t stir it. Scatter the chopped green onions on top. When the egg starts to firm up, after about 2 to 3 minutes, stir gently. When the chicken is done, the soup is ready. Divide the rice or noodles between eight bowls and spoon the soup on top. Serves 6 to 8.
Curried Chicken Soup
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 shallots or 6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 to 5 cups chicken broth
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 pound cooked chicken, shredded (leftovers work great)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 green onions, sliced for garnish
3/4 cup plain yogurt
In a large saucepan sauté the green onions, pepper and curry powder in the butter. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the bell pepper pieces are starting to get soft. Add the chicken broth, cauliflower and potato and bring the soup to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and chickpeas. Mix to combine, and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and whisk in the yogurt. Top with the sliced green onions just before serving. Serves 4 to 6.