Consider this soup to be like the culinary equivalent of the televised evangelical reverend who places his hand upon your head to cure you. BLAM – one sip, you’re cured! I truly didn’t believe that anything would ever be able to hold a candle to my chicken tortilla soup (because Mexican food always wins), but good god this soup puts up a valiant battle. The broth itself could probably be packaged and sold as an alternative to Buckley’s (but one that you actually wanted to slurp down by the bottleful). It’s so dark and rich, thanks to the chicken wings that sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of soup. No suspicious chunks of “chicken” here either – just that luscious luscious thigh meat, all drunk on the brothy juices they’ve soaked up.
So go ahead, get bought in, start speaking in tongues – you’re about to be cured. BLAM.
BA’s Best: Chicken Noodle Soup
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
Serves 4 generously, 6 more civilly
1 large leek
Stems from ½ bunch parsley
6 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 lb chicken wings
1 onion, unpeeled and quartered
3 carrots, peeled and snapped in half
2 celery stalks, snapped in half
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp whole black peppercorns
2 ½ lb bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
8 oz egg noodles
8 oz (~1 cup) carrots, sliced ½-inch thick
8 oz (~1 cup) pearl onions, peeled and halved root-to-tip
Flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, for serving
Start by preparing the chicken stock. Trim the dark green, fibrous portion of the leek, leaving only the white and palest green parts. Cut the leek in half lengthwise (also crosswise if your leek is longer than ~6 inches) and gently run a bit of water between the layers to release any trapped dirt or debris. Nestle the parsley stems, thyme, and bay leaves inside the layers as best you can, then tie the halves together to form a little leek-and-herb sammich. Set fussy leek bundle aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large deep pot set over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the wings, turning often, until browned all over. Season the wings with salt and pepper as they brown. Don’t worry if the wings stick to the pan a bit, just ensure that those bits don’t burn by turning the heat down if needed. Transfer the cooked wings to a plate and set aside. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the hot grease and cook until browned or earlier if you find that things (e.g. those bits on the bottom of the pan) are burning at all. Add the tomato paste and cook for another couple of minutes, just until things darken up a bit more. Add ½ cup water to deglaze the pot. Return the chicken wings to the pot along with the leek bundle, peppercorns, and 12 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ - 2 hours, until the broth is a deep amber colour and the wings are falling apart. Skim any foam/scum off the top of the broth and spoon off excess fat as it pools during cooking.
Drain the soup through a colander and discard the boiled solids. Let the stock cool until warm and skim the congealed fat from the top of the stock as best you can. Season to taste. If using right away, place the stock on low heat to stay warm. If saving for future use, refrigerate, only covering once the soup has completely cooled. The soup will become somewhat gelatinous and disturbing in appearance once congealed, but will liquefy as soon as it becomes hot again, rest assured.
To serve the soup, bring the chicken stock up to a simmer. Add the chicken thighs to the stock, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes (or until thighs have cooked through). Transfer the cooked chicken thighs to a plate and let cool slightly before shredding the meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones. While the chicken simmers and cools, cook the egg noodles in boiling salted water until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water, then set aside until ready to use.
Add the sliced carrots and pearl onions to the broth, simmering until the vegetables have just become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded thigh meat back to the pot. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved noodles to the soup and season one last time, if needed. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with parsley leaves. You have been healed, my child.