|Creamy Chicken Soup|
My quest for this soup started a few years ago, when Bob and I had dinner at a very well-known restaurant about 100 miles north of where we live. They served a creamy chicken soup that Bob has not forgotten. He kept wanting to drive back there, just for that soup, even though they only serve it one day a week (which turned out to not be an especially convenient day for us to go there). I figured it was far cheaper and easier just to figure out how to make it.
I started with a recipe from the Food network, and adapted it from there. It's not an especially healthy soup, but it's wonderful and comforting for special occasions. This was our Christmas Eve dinner this year (well, part of it) and it was hugely popular.
Creamy Chicken Soup
1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
7 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
2-3 cups cooked, diced chicken
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoons sherry
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about two minutes until well mixed.
Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add spices and mix well. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the chicken and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Whisk the cream, sherry, and salt into the soup and season with pepper to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Serve immediately.
I've used a variety of types of chicken in this recipe. I've made it with rotisserie chicken from Costco, a fresh chicken boiled at home, and various breast and thigh pieces that I had boiled.
Boiling the chicken takes a little more work, but it gives you a lovely broth that you can use in the soup. I usually start the process the day before, cleaning out the chicken and then boiling it for about an hour. Then I store it in the fridge over night, which makes it easy to skim off a fairly healthy layer of fat before you start cooking. When I used rotisserie chicken, I made broth using chicken base, which gave the soup a little bit of a synthetic taste. Another option would be to use rotisserie chicken with canned or boxed chicken broth.
Keep in mind that your chicken/broth choice will influence the amount of salt you use. If you use chicken base, add it a little bit at a time (tasting between additions) or you'll oversalt it. If you made your own chicken broth, a tablespoon will be about right.
Oh, and if you have fresh herbs, by all means use them.