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Lazy Girl Chicken Soup

I made this soup (in our motorhome) when hubby developed a nasty cold on a very busy day. It does require two pans, but is super-easy, delicious and freezes well. Using the freshest ingredients will pay-off in this easy recipe. The soup is great alone, or ladled over matzo balls.
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 quart chicken broth
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
10 peppercorns (optional)
olive or canola oil
1½ cups finely chopped yellow onion (about half one large onion)
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
Place the chicken breasts in a small sauce pan with a few sprigs of thyme and the peppercorns. Pour just enough chicken stock over to just cover. Bring to boil and simmer for ten minutes. Cover and remove from heat and leave to finish poaching while you prepare the rest of the soup, about ten more minutes.
Heat a large stockpot and coat the bottom with olive or canola oil. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots and stir to coat. Cook over a medium heat, stirring carefully for about five minutes, as they soften. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
Pour the remaining stock over the vegetables and turn the heat to low. Leave to simmer.
Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and strain the cooking broth into the soup pot. Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and peppercorns. Using two forks, shred the chicken and put the shredded chicken into the soup pot. Continuing simmering the soup until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and add additional thyme leaves, if desired.
Serves 4.

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