Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
Before climate change brought us more sunny days than we ever thought possible, soup season could last all year in the Pacific Northwest. And while a hot bowl of chicken soup definitely makes cold, wet conditions more tolerable, it tastes just as good when the skies are blue, especially if one of the three viruses of the tripledemic have paid a call. Sick or not, you can whip up this quick chicken soup in about an hour, and it beats anything from a can or box.
A couple of things about soup. Cut the vegetables and chicken into small pieces. Nobody wants to fish huge chunks out of their bowl. While you could just add them to the pot, cooking the aromatic vegetables in olive oil first is a good step for any soup. It coaxes out more flavor. Both the optional but highly recommended soy sauce and msg add umami, the savory quality that makes things taste better. Every kitchen should have a shaker of msg handy. All the adverse health claims about it have been debunked, and they originate from anti-Asian racism anyway, so decolonize your spice rack and pick up a red-and-white jar of what I like to call aji no moto (the original Japanese name for monosodium glutamate).
And even though this soup is ready to eat in less than an hour, it’ll be better if it simmers longer, and it’s best if you let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and heat it up the next day.
Quick and Easy Chicken Soup
2 boneless chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, sliced into small pieces
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 head green cabbage, chopped
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce, optional
Couple of shakes of msg, optional
Put the chicken, 1 teaspoon of salt, and water in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken, let cool, and chop into small pieces. Return to the pot.
While the chicken is simmering, cook the onion, carrots and celery with the olive oil and the rest of the salt in a skillet over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add them and the cabbage to the soup pot with the cut-up chicken. Add the soy sauce, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed, stir in the vinegar, and simmer for another few minutes. Serve hot and feel better.