A little science. A little magic. A little chicken soup.
I was sure it would be easy to find a quote for this post. Chicken soup is a much-talked-about dish after all. But the quotes I found didn’t say what I felt about chicken soup until I saw this one from Diane Duane. She might have been talking about one of her science fiction novels, but chicken soup is just that. A little bit of (food) science. A little bit of magic! Mothers the world over will swear by the magic of chicken soup. It is said to have everything you need to help you recover from a bad cold or a bout of flu. But the best part is that it is delicious, easy to make and affordable! So if you’re feeling sniffy, go find a saucepan, a chicken breast or two and some veggies and let’s get to work on this wonder cure. Budget Chicken Soup!
A little goes a long way
There are thousands of chicken soup recipes on the internet. The ingredients that people add can be quite amazing. I have seen Tumeric, garlic, miso, pearl couscous, black beans, Thai green curry and many more. All of these recipes look super tasty, but let’s face it: when it’s cold and you need soup, you need to get on with it. This Budget Chicken Soup recipe only uses some chicken breasts, stock, veggies, basic dried herbs and some thickener. But it will be as good as any of the others on Pinterest. The chicken is chopped into cubes and you add a lot of veggies, so the soup stretches to easily eight portions. You can even freeze some for an emergency. Yes, I do have soup emergencies. When I’m cold and hungry – roughly from May to mid-August!
Noodles and dumplings
Of course, once you have mastered this basic recipe, you can add any spices or ingredients of your choice. The most commonly added ingredient is noodles. Definitely part of any good soup and it doesn’t add much to the cost. I have also seen recipes where they add dumplings, pearl barley or even tortilla chips! My next chicken soup is definitely having a Mexican flavour! You can also double up on flavour and taste by adding some cream, sour cream or yoghurt. The options are endless and the soup is bound to fix whatever might have been wrong, from hunger to heartbreak. It is really a kind of magic!
Budget Chicken Soup
A quick and easy chicken soup recipe that does not require any costly ingredients.
Servings: 8 servings
- ½ onion, roughly chopped
- 30 ml vegetable oil
- 2 to 4 chicken breasts deboned or not
- 1,5 litre chicken stock, warmed
- 1 litre boiling water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 t dried parsley
- 1 t chicken seasoning
- 4 to 6 c frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 or 2 potato, cubed
- 3 tbsp flour or cornstarch (heaped)
- ½ c cold milk or cream
- In a large pot, fry the chicken breasts in the oil, skin side down until browned.
- Add the onion and fry until translucent.
- Add the warm stock, about half of the boiling water, herbs & spices and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the chicken is tender.
- Remove the chicken portions from the stock and let it cool down a bit. Bring the stock up to a boil and add the potato cubes and then the frozen veggies.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Let the veggies cook in the stock until they are tender, but not overcooked. Approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, debone the chicken and chop the meat into cubes or strips. Don't make the chopped chicken too fine.
- Once the veggies are tender, add the chicken back to the stock and bring it to a simmer. You can add the other half of the boiling water if the stock has cooked away.
- Dissolve the flour or cornstarch in the cold milk, making sure there are no lumps. Pour the flour slurry into the soup gradually while stirring.
- Keep stirring while the soup thickens.
- Once the soup is thick, check the seasoning, adding salt or pepper as needed.
- Serve warm with soft buttered breadrolls or warm crusty bread.
- You can add a carrot and celery stalk when cooking the onion for more flavour.
- Adding some dried chilli flakes when adding the herbs will give it a kick and chilli is very good for colds. This is also the point at which you can flavour the soup to your liking: Mexican, Thai, curry or hot!
- If you want to use fresh vegetables instead of frozen, adjust the cooking time as many fresh veggies cook faster than their frozen counterparts. Mushrooms are a lovely addition to chicken soup.
- Noodles or rice can be added when you add the frozen veggies. Grains that take longer to cook like barley can be added when you add the stock.
- If you would like a creamier soup, you can replace the ½ cup of milk with cream as I did when cooking the soup for this post. Gradually adjust the heat of the soup as you don't want the cream to split. You can also just add a dollop of cream on top of the soup once you have dished it up.
- Adding a tin of beans or cream-style sweetcorn are also good additions which make the soup more filling, but isn't expensive.