OK... admittedly a bold statement, particularly for a soup that was originally created by joe (as usual), not using any sort of recipe. But whenever a friend or neighbor is sick, he will usually make up a pot for them and we always get the same response... "this is the best chicken soup I've ever had." In any case, you can give this a try and decide for yourselves.
Many chicken soup recipes call for a much longer list of ingredients, but this one is exceptionally simple. You may be surprised when you realize that nothing is boiled with the chicken...nada. And the ingredient list is short and to the point.
Cooking the orzo in the soup (and not separately) is one of the secrets, blending with all the flavors and adding a good amount of starch... but don't get the wrong idea, this soup still has a rather fresh and light (yet very homey) feel.
Total cook time, about 45 minutes.
Makes enough soup for days... not sure how many servings that is! IMPORTANT RE-HEATING TIP: The pasta will absorb a lot of the liquid over time, when reheating you may have to add some water back, along with a pinch of salt (to taste).
1 whole fresh organic chicken. 4-5 lbs.
6 quarts of water.
1 pound of orzo pasta. (This is our favorite, but you can sub with other pastas like linguine broken into short pieces, pappardelle, fettuccine, etc).
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick circles.
3 celery stalks, cut lengthwise into thirds and then sliced into 1/4 thick pieces.
1/4 diced white, yellow or brown onion.
5 bay leaves.
2 tablespoons salt.
1-1/2 teaspoons celery salt.
2 teaspoons onion salt.
This soup can also be served with a little grated pecorino romano cheese. It's a matter of preference.
Start with a large stock pot if you have one, place the chicken and add 6 quarts (24 cups) of water. Set on the stove on high and bring to a boil. This may take about 20 mins.
Wash/Peel/Cut the onions, celery and carrots. OR.... you can do what we usually do... buy a 14 oz tub of pre-chopped mirepoix from trader joes. (this will save you a LOT of time).
Keep and eye on the stock pot. Once it comes to a full boil set a timer for 20 minutes.
When the timer is done, turn off the burner and carefully remove the whole chicken from the pot using tongs (be careful to keep your hand higher than the chicken at all times or boiling hot water could run down the inside of the tongs onto your hand).
Place the chicken, breast up, into a large bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Strain the entire contents of the stock pot (the broth) into a separate stock pot that is large enough to also accommodate all the other ingredients. (the pot should be at least 8 quarts).
Place the pot onto the stove on high and carefully add the celery, carrots and onions.
Peel back the skin from the chicken and cut away the two breasts.
Then carefully shred them using two forks.
(Do as you wish with the remaining chicken, we remove it from the bones and give it to the dogs).
Then add the shredded chicken and all of the spices (bay leaves, onion salt, celery salt, salt).