There is really nothing like a bowl of Western-style chicken soup. Its warm, golden broth, light-yet-meaty texture and amazingly simple recipe has been passed down from kitchen to kitchen for centuries.
Here’s how to make it (serves six):
Melt some butter in a saucepan and lightly fry some carrots, onions and celery, all finely chopped.
Toss in a handful of flour and stir for a few minutes before pouring in a litre of chicken stock.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper then add two dice chicken breasts and boil until cooked.
Your grandmother will probably not approve of this particular recipe (or, for that matter, any recipe that isn’t in her own dog-eared cookbook). This deceptively simple dish (which modern science suggests actually does help people get over colds) has spawned centuries of traditions and bitter disputes: what’s the best broth consistency? Should the chicken be skinned?
But this is the Moon Age, and it’s time to try new things. Here are a few alternative recipes to shake things up.
Spicy Mexican Style Chicken Soup
Leave it to the Central Americans to take a classic Western dish and load it with south-of-the-border bravado. This slow-cooked chicken tortilla soup is a spicy, rich fiesta of chilli, garlic and black pepper. Add a handful of grated cheese and a scoop of sour cream, and don’t forget the tortilla chips!
High Protein Workout Chicken Soup (aka Chicken Soup for the Swole)
For all its merits, chicken soup isn’t the heartiest of dishes. It doesn’t pack a big nutritional punch, although it’s great for making one feel full on a diet. Yet this thermos-friendly recipe by EFX Sports is loaded with enough chicken, brown rice and potatoes to provide all the carbs and protein needed for a full gym session.
For people counting carbs, number one on this list by Eat This, Not That! is a high protein, low carb chicken posole.
Simple Chicken Ramen
As many a foodie knows, good Japanese ramen is a complex and delicate craft that goes far beyond supermarket instant noodle packs. It’s about as far from the easy-to-cook, easy-to-eat spirit of Western-style chicken soup as you can get. But leave it to an American (Laura from the Fork Knife Swoon blog) to come up with a simple ramen that blends the traditional Japanese flavour with the straightforward ease of home cooking.
Creamy Mac and Cheese Chicken Soup
One tried and true rule that we hold dearly is that macaroni and cheese can improve any dish (well, maybe not chocolate mousse). This rich, creamy, cheesy macaroni-infused chicken soup from Country Living is a hearty, stick-to-the-ribs chowder that calls for broccoli, bell pepper and generous amounts of butter.
Chicken and Dumplings
Along with regular chicken soup and chicken noodle soup, chicken and dumplings completes the trifecta of classic Western chicken comfort soups. Rather than mess with a good thing, here is an old-fashioned but delicious home-style chicken and dumplings recipe from the Pioneer Woman.
Vegan Non-Chicken Soup
Thanks to the internet, the vegan and vegetarian’s cup runneth over with non-animal alternatives to classic meat dishes, and chicken soup is no exception. But for a recipe that goes beyond merely dropping some tofu into a salty broth, try this “chicken” noodle soup from The Stingy Vegan. It uses chickpeas to add richness and protein, is oil-free and calls for vegetable leavings like peels and tips that would normally be thrown away (making it the perfect way to one-up your vegan friends even if you’re a meat eater).
Ashkenazic Jewish Chicken Soup
Nicknamed “Jewish Penicillin” this straightforward, economical, kosher chicken soup has been prized in Jewish kitchens for centuries. It’s decidedly simple, designed to make the most out of a few inexpensive ingredients, including the giblet and other underrated parts of the chicken. Shalom!
Creamy German Chicken Soup with Dumplings
A richer, heartier take on the classic chicken-and-dumplings. It is somewhat more complex and takes longer to make, but the creamy broth and slow-cooked onions and carrots make this recipe from Food and Wine the perfect escape from those long winter nights on the Rhine.