There’s nothing quite like a bowl of brothy chicken soup to warm you up when it’s cold, soothe you when you’re sick, and generally make you feel strong and nourished any time. If you’ve been making homemade soup but it has never tasted quite as amazing as you’d like (like me), here is the solution. This recipe tastes so good with basically no spices — just a little salt and pepper and a couple of bay leaves for the broth. It’s proof that simple, good ingredients really don’t need dressing up; they can stand on their own.
I’ve been a fan of soup my whole life, from Portuguese sopas to split pea soup to chili to this chicken soup right here. They’re comforting, filling, usually healthy and (done right) so flavorful — plus you can just toss all your leftover veggies into them. I have several soup recipes I love but only mastered plain old chicken soup recently. The key is to make your own broth. I kind of knew that’s what my soup was missing all along but was too scared/intimidated to buy a whole, uncooked chicken and make it myself. What if the chicken doesn’t cook all the way through? And picking meat off of bones + throwing away giblets has never been my thing.
So today I bring you the easiest way to make broth. The trick? Use boneless skinless chicken thighs. No mess, all the flavor of using a whole chicken, and once you’ve made the broth you can save the ultra-tender meat to be added to the soup later. This is a great no-waste recipe.
DO NOT skip making the broth at home. It takes time but negligible work, and it will make your soup taste amazing no matter how hard you try to screw it up. Like by adding kale. Yep, this recipe has kale in it and you will want seconds. Matt pretty much equates kale with all that is evil in the world (in raw form I kind of agree with him) and he loved this soup. It’s all about the broth!
You can make the broth ahead of time and freeze it or refrigerate it for a day or two before making the soup. The broth takes the longest; once that’s made the soup only takes 30-40 minutes to stew plus about 10 minutes of prep work. Again, though it takes a while to make the broth, this soup is very low effort. It creates minimal dishes — just two pots and a cutting board — and is basically a set-and-forget recipe that I think would be doable even when you’re not feeling well. Enjoy!
- 4 large frozen chicken thighs (roughly 1.5 lbs, maybe 2)
- 2 pieces of celery
- 2 carrots, peeled
- ¼ to ½ of an onion (red, white or yellow all work)
- 2 large bay leaves
- fresh ground pepper
- sea salt
- Same chicken as used to make the broth
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 4 to 6 pieces of celery, sliced into ¼" to ½" long pieces
- 4 to 6 carrots, sliced and chopped to ½" long pieces
- ½ of a large yellow onion or 1 small onion, chopped small
- 4 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 5 oz kale, stems removed
- First, make the broth. Cover the frozen chicken thighs with a large amount of water -- enough to cover them all and then some. You will lose a lot of water as the broth stews, so be generous (use almost double the amount that you'll actually want for your soup since the veggies will also absorb some liquid).
- Bring thighs to a rolling boil, let them boil for one minute, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a slow boil. Leave uncovered and add the celery, carrots, onion and bay leaves. Cook this way for 45 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, continuing to leave uncovered, and add salt and pepper (roughly 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper). Continue to simmer for another hour and a half until the chicken falls apart easily and the broth looks strong and yellow.
- Pour broth through a strainer into another pot, separating the chicken and veggies from the broth. Discard the celery, carrots, onion and bay leaves once cool enough to touch. Keep the chicken to be added to the soup later.
- Now for the soup: Back in the same pot you made the broth in, add your butter over medium-low heat and let it melt. Then add the fresh celery, carrots, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Saute for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion pieces are soft and translucent. Add a little more salt and pepper.
- Pour broth back into the soup pot and turn up the heat. Add kale leaves. Bring to rolling boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Shred your chicken thighs into pieces (again, they should fall apart easily) and add back into soup. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes and remove from heat. Carrots should be soft but not mushy.
- If needed, add salt and pepper to taste.
Also, you can play around with the vegetables in this soup. The real magic here is in the broth, so make that as written, and make sure to keep the celery, carrots and onion in the soup as well since they play a crucial role in the flavor. Feel free to leave out the mushrooms if you don't like them.
Also note: Broth freezes very well and can be used for a lot of different recipes. It tastes way better than canned/boxed from the store. Once the broth cools, store it in 2 cup increments in zip-lock bags and lay them flat in the freezer.