I’ve been meaning to really refine my perfect hearty chicken soup recipe for a while. This got expedited a tad as a friend has been feeling quite under the weather with some health complications. Knowing that they have two young children at home and very little energy from their treatments, delivering a few hearty meals that could easily be heated up was a no-brainer option.
This chicken soup is just as hearty as it is delicious. It’s a riff on what your grandmother likely used to make, only with a bit more intricacy to really bring out the flavour of all the ingredients. I’ll be working on really perfecting the dumplings as while they were wonderful, I’d really like to get a little more punch to them.
While the chicken soup you may be used to from a can is likely engrained in your mind from childhood, that was really a disservice to what this can truly be. If you give this a shot, I promise it’ll be a night and day difference. While the entire thing is hardly as easy as cracking a can of Campbells, if you make it in advance it stores wonderfully in the freezer and re-heats marvelously. Buying your chicken whole will help save a lot of money, and quite honestly for the portion sizes you’re going to get, it’s cheaper than buying those horribly over-salted and under-flavoured cans of crap.
This soup is hearty, rich, and will leave you full. It’s time to level up.
Roasted Chicken Soup with Dumplings
If you want a quick chicken soup, this isn't for you, but the time spent on the details will really pay off in the end. Give it a shot, and you'll notice the difference. it's worth it I promise!
- 2 Whole Chickens
- 5 Yellow Onions (Cooking Onions
- 1 bunch Celery
- 4 Large Carrots
- 8 tbsp Olive Oil
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 1 bunch Thyme
- 1 bunch Parsley
- 1 can Tomato Paste (Small)
- 1 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 cup 2% Milk
- 1 large Egg
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
Take your chicken(s) and separate into pieces. You'll want to piece out the breasts, thighs, legs, wings into one roasting pan. It's OK (preferable) if you keep the bones in the pieces of chicken you're separating. At the same time, set everything else (the bones and any other scraps) into another roasting pan.
A slight rub of 2tbsp of olive oil on the bones and scraps, and toss into the over under the broiler at "high". Roast for about 30 minutes, and flip the pieces to ensure you're browning up all sides. Keep roasting for another 30 minutes or until the bones and pieces have some good colour on them, however without burning them. You're trying to get as much colour on them as possible.
Heat 2tbsp of olive oil in a deep soup pot and get it ripping hot. While it heats, chop up 2 yellow onions, 1 large carrot (or 2 medium ones), approximately 1/3 of the head of celery in a rough chop along with 4 cloves of garlic and toss in over the oil. You're looking to get some browning on the vegetables, but certainly not burn them. Ideally use a wooden (or plastic) spoon. Add about 1/3 a can of tomato paste and continually mix to coat the vegetables, also bringing out a bit of the sugars in the tomato paste. Be careful not to burn.
Once you've got some browning on the vegetables, toss the browned and roasted bones into the pot with any drippings from the pan. Use 1/2 cup of water into the roasting pan to help scrape the fond (the little bits attached to the pan) off the roasting pan and be sure to include them into the pot (they're the best part). Fill the pot with enough fresh water the cover all items in the pot. Add a bit more water if you wish to bring the pot up to (at max) 3/4 full. Add a handful of thyme and parsley then bring the pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer – which you'll want to keep it at for approximately an hour.
While your stock is cooking away, you'll want to rub the separated pieces of chicken with about 2tbsp of olive oil and roast on high to get as much colour (but not burnt) on the chicken. You're looking to ensure it's cooked about 3/4 the way through. Once done, set aside and let cool.
As your chicken is roasted and cooled, begin separating it into chunks or shreds to your choosing. Typically I suggest a variety of both chunks of breast meat, and more strips and pieces of thigh and leg meat. Set this aside and cover.
Your stock should be completed by this point. Strain into a large tub or bowl through a sieve and discard your scraps into compost. Set the stock aside.
With your soup pot, add another 3 finely chopped onions, 2 large carrots (4 medium), and the remaining 2/3 of your celery, 4 cloves of garlic along with 2tbsp of olive oil and begin softening the vegetables. Once browned add another 1/3 of your tomato paste and mix to coat your browned vegetables. Continue on a medium heat to slightly brown the tomato paste.
Add a handful of thyme and parsley along with the the entirety of your broth to your pot, bring to a boil, and immediately reduce the heat and let simmer.
In a medium mixing bowl add 1 cup of flour, 1 egg and whisk together. Slowly begin adding your milk until you get a bit of a sticky mixture. You want this to be a bit lumpy, yet have the milk completely incorporated. It should stick to your fingers with ease, but there should be no dry spots. Add a liberal amount of fine cracked black pepper, salt to taste, and a pinch of smoked paprika. Continue mixing until all ingredients are incorporated. Remember, do not add too much milk. You're looking for the consistency of very thick oatmeal.
After your soup has been simmering for no less than 10 minutes, using a teaspoon add a dollop of your dumpling mixture to the broth. You'll need to push the mixture off the spoon with a finger and it should drop into the soup and more or less disappear. Continue this with your remaining dumpling mixture. The dumplings will begin to rise to the surface as they're about 3/4 done. If your pot begins to get too crowded, you can put aside the risen dumplings in order to cook the rest.
Putting It Together
Once all dumplings have been cooked, add any set aside dumplings, all of your chicken, and simmer for another 5 minutes mixing thoroughly. Add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
Serve immediately. Garnish with parsley.
If you'd like to keep this for later, you can easily store it in the freezer for up to 6 months in plastic containers or a vacuum sealed bag. Equally separate portions as needed, let completely cool, and store as you see fit.