Soul Soothing Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup, Stage 1

1 3-6 lb whole chicken (either frozen or fresh, depending on method)
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 lb baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 quart chicken broth
3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons dried thyme
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt

If using the Instant Pot (this is the one I use):

Place all ingredients into the pot insert (frozen chicken is fine to use here). Set the Instant Pot to Soup/Stew and set the time for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Once the timer completes, allow the pressure to naturally release. 

If using the Stove-top method:

Thaw chicken completely. Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil/ Reduce the heat and allow pot to simmer until chicken is done and incredibly tender (I always let it simmer for at least an hour, but longer is better).

Between Stage 1 and Stage 2:

Remove chicken from stock and strain stock. De-bone chicken and remove skin. Reserve chicken and stock in separate containers.

Chicken Soup, Stage 2

1 container reserved stock
1 container reserved chicken
1 lb carrots, diced
1 lb baby bella mushrooms, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
Additional salt and pepper (added to taste)

Melt butter in a large stockpot (clean first if it was used during Stage 1). Add carrots and mushrooms, and saute until tender (about 10 minutes). Add reserved chicken and stir well. Then, pour reserved stock over chicken and veggies. Bring to a simmer, and taste. Adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve. Enjoy!

The Wordy Bit

Ah, the soothing comfort of chicken soup! There is nothing like it, and I have been working on this recipe for the better part of 15 years. I wanted to make sure that my son always had a comforting soup when he wasn't feeling well. The earlier versions of this soup contained noodles, and if you want to add noodles, go for it! Just drop them in the pot during Stage 2 once the soup is at a simmer and cook until done. But I have found that the recipe is better without them. That's really down to several factors: personal preference, texture preferences, and storage capabilities. I use this soup as part of my meal prep (it freezes so well!), and I find it freezes and thaws better without noodles. If you want to use noodles, but also want to freeze the soup, I recommend adding the noodles after thawing the frozen soup.

I also find that the flavor is richer when this soup is made in a two-step process. The first step involves making a richer and more flavorful broth while cooking the chicken with the rough-chopped veggies. While chicken stock is used in the first stage, the resulting broth has a fuller flavor and comes out with an almost creamy mouth-feel. Doesn't that sound fancy? The first broth-making step can be done either in the Instant Pot or on the stove. The Instant Pot version is my current favorite because I can start it with a frozen chicken. And I don't know about you, but I sometimes forget what I'm doing or my brain falls out and I forget to plan ahead. Using the Instant Pot and starting the chicken from frozen ensures that I can still make soup on the day I wanted to (or even on a whim, if it's ever necessary). But I have made it for years without an Instant Pot with no problems.

Don't like carrots or mushrooms? No soup for you! No, not really...just don't use them. Use whatever veggies you like the most and whichever herbs suit your tastes. I think soups are very fluid things...okay, I'll stop. Seriously, though, the soup can be adjusted and altered as needed to suit your dietary needs or culinary desires. Have fun with it! Let me know in the comments what changes you made--you might inspire us!

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