Chicken Soup need help never made soup before.
Do you have any cans of chicken broth? If not, you can just use water. If you're in a rush and want to start now.
Brown one chopped onion and two minced cloves of garlic in 1 T olive oil. After the onion begins to brown, add chopped carrots. Maybe 2. Continue sauteeing for 5-10 minutes. Hope you can throw in a bay leaf, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp of dill weed (yes, dill weed, if not it's ok to skip). I usually use leftover cooked chicken. If your chicken isn't already cooked then you should start by browning chunks of that, then remove and start browning the above mentioned veggies. Add a couple of cans of chicken broth, and the chicken. I would wait until 15 minutes before serving to added minced cilantro if you didn't use dill weed. For a starch we prefer rice but go ahead and add cubed potatoes with the chicken and broth (or water). Probably simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
I would start by making a good hearty chicken stock, which you can learn how to do by reading this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/720140
After that, then you're nearly 90% of the way there to good chicken soup by just adding some chicken meat, noodles, veggies, seasoning, etc. or whatever else suits your fancy. More ideas and inspiration here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/753183
Do you have chicken stock or bouillion/base? If so, just put the chicken, stock/boullion/base and any veggies you want into pot and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer until everything is cooked. Take the chicken out to shred and put back into the soup, season with whatever herbs you want to taste. I've taken to using fresh rosemary and fresh thyme in my chicken soup, but you can use any dried herbs you have on hand as well.
Pretty simple. You don't have to, as many don't, but I like to cook the onions, carrots and celery a bit in a bit of olive oil before adding the rest of the ingredients.
All of the previous replies sound yummy. My biggest secret for really good chicken soup is homemade broth, as ipsedixit said, but I rarely have time to make the complicated stock. Here's an easy version whose flavor is still lots better than any canned stock. Any time you cook chicken, or get a pre-baked rotisserie chicken, keep the skin and bones and put them in a pot with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and leave simmering for 20 minutes. Strain out the broth and store in the frig. Fat will rise to the surface and keep the broth good in the frig for a few days up to a week (after that, remove the fat if you wish, but a little is sooooo flavorful). You can also freeze the broth. If you want to save space, reduce the broth by half or more and store it, again in frig or freezer, until you make your next pot of soup. If you have time, you can brown the skin and bones in a low oven, but again, any homemade broth is better than canned.
I make chicken soup regularly, and I always start with chicken and water. My chicken stock is precious to me, so if I'm starting with raw chicken that will give me all the flavor I need. I think the one ingredient that makes the most difference in chicken soup is salt--if you don't use enough it will taste like dishwater.
Good points, escondido. Never let the fact that you don't have stock keep you from making soup, Lulu. My fav chef, Jacques Pepin, has made many soups with water. And you're right on the salt aspect, too. We're all afraid of too much salt, but without it, soup - or any dish - just misses the mark. Taste each component of the soup, and taste before serving, and you'll never go wrong on seasoning.
Thank you so much for the replies. I was wondering if I still needed chicken broth since I have a chicken.
So what I am thinking about doing now after reading through the threads that ipsedixit posted and the replies posted here is this... Since I have a whole chicken I am going to cook the back and maybe one or two thighs in the crockpot overnight (maybe tomorrow night, since I need more suggestions and have no idea what I am doing yet) with some onions and garlic. Then the next morning I will brown some of the other pieces. Cut them off the bone and cook the bone and skin in the crockpot broth for a few more hours. Or should I brown the chicken first then put in the crockpot?
Then do what everyone said about browning the onions, garlic celery etc...I can figure out what to do from there.
I do have bay leaves but no dill. Can I brown the potatoes too? Also, my whole point of making this is trying to eat healthier. So is it ok to use the skin and then discard the fat after the broth is cold or should I leave it out? I know it won't be as flavorful but just wondering. I think I am going to start chopping up everything now.
Thanks again. Going to re-read the threads posted.
edited to add.- I think I might go get some chicken feet.
If you have a whole chicken, there's no need to add stock. No need to brown your ingredients, either. I make delicious, rich yet light chicken soup without doing either. And you're trying to eat healthier, so you don't need the added oil.
I would put the raw chicken, skin and all, in a pot with a coarsely chopped oinion, 1 or 2 stalks chopped celery with leaves, 2 cloves chopped garlic, a bay leaf and 7 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. (Sorry, I'm not familiar with crockpot cooking - you can adjust amount of water and cooking time as necessary.)
Add peeled carrot and potato chunks (2 carrots), return to boil for a minute, then simmer another 20 min. Add your spinach and cilantro, chopped, and simmer for 5 min. These last ingredients will cook more when you reheat the soup - see below.
Chill. Skim off fat. Remove chicken skin. Cut the chicken into bitesized pieces if desired.
Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste. 1/8 tsp turmeric gives a bit of color and interesting flavor, if you like it. Add more water if desired.
I'd hesitate to use bell peppers, because IMO they tend to add a bitter note to chicken soup.
If you're using cilantro already, the dill is not necessary.
One more suggestion: don't overdo the onion, garlic or carrot. These all add sweetness to your soup, and too much can be overwhelming.