A good friend is one who shows up on your door step with a pot of soup when they know you could use a little TLC. I have such friends, which is how I discovered this comforting chicken soup. My friend, Helen, knew I was sick so she did what we’ve all done—she pulled together a simple concoction of on-hand ingredients and stirred it together in a pot. She apologized for its simplicity when she delivered it, explaining it was what she had, but she wanted to bless me. The gesture warmed my heart as much as the soup warmed and comforted my aching body and there was certainly no need for her to apologize for its humble origin, every last drop of it was wonderful.
I love that about food, the way it brings comfort without asking questions or giving advice.
Since it was put together with what she had in her cupboard, there wasn’t a recipe to follow when trying to recreate its magic. The soup recipe you see here maintains the basic ingredients, but has been modified over the years, I’m not sure Helen would even recognize it. While it loosely resembles her original offering, this recipe still carries her name because it carries with it the spirit in which is was prepared. Helen’s Chicken Soup has become a family favorite and is routinely shared with friends in need of comfort.
This is a creamy chicken soup with bacon and corn, fortified with pureed vegetables. When we initially added vegetables, the kids were still young and more resistant to chunks of vegetables, so anything that could turn them off was pureed. Doing so thickened the soup and they were better off not knowing they were eating summer squash in every bite. 😉 Of course, you could add any range of vegetables; however, I would recommend vegetables in the reds and yellows and stay away from greens. Pureeing green into soups most often produces at dull, brownish hue, which doesn’t look quite as appetizing.
Have you ever had to hide vegetables in your recipes?
Helen’s Chicken Soup is also ideal for freezing, that way you’re always prepared to deliver a meal at a moments notice! The recipe can be adjusted to accommodate dairy allergies by substituting coconut milk or leaving the cream out all together. Although you may be tempted to substitute the cream with milk or half & half, I would recommend staying with the cream if you intend to freeze the soup—milk and half & half tend to separate when frozen, and while it doesn’t change the flavor, it doesn’t retain a pleasing creamy texture when reheated.
A bit of sweet corn, smoky bacon, and tender chicken in creamy homemade broth with accents of fresh thyme is both soothing and tasty. Finish with a splash of cream and chopped purple kale and serve with Sprouted Wheat French Bread to soak up every last bit in your bowl.
- 1 whole chicken -- cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 bulb garlic -- roasted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound bacon -- cut into ¼ inch strips
- 1 large onion -- chopped
- 2 cups celery -- finely chopped
- 3 quarts chicken broth
- 2 cans Mexican-style* corn -- drained
- 2 small yellow summer squash -- chopped into large chunks
- ½ cup homemade beef bouillon* -- or 1 cube bouillon
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tbsps fresh thyme -- leaves only
- 1 cup cream
- 3 cups frozen corn -- defrosted
- ¼ cup butter -- optional
- ¼ cup sprouted whole wheat flour -- optional [use sweet rice flour for gluten-free]
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Boil chicken in 4 quarts of water and salt. When cooked through, cool chicken and reserve broth. Broth should be strained and fat separated. Once cooled, remove meat from the bones and tear or shred chicken. Retain bones for making stock or discard.
- Cut top off of garlic bulb so that the majority of the cloves are exposed. Place in a small oven proof dish, pour olive oil over garlic bulb, and roast at 350° for 20-30 minutes. When done, cool garlic until easy to handle and squeeze bottom of bulb to releave cloves.
- Meanwhile, in a large soup pot cook bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towel lined plate and reserve fat.
- In the same pot, saute onion and celery in 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat until onion is translucent and soft. Add 3 quarts of the broth to the pot and reserve the remaining broth to thin the soup, as desired. Bring to a boil and simmer gently 5 minutes.
- Place Mexican-style corn, summer squash, beef bouillon, liquid smoke, dried thyme, and roasted garlic cloves in a blender and puree. Add to soup and simmer 10 minutes to meld flavors. Add chicken, fresh thyme, cream, corn and bacon. Simmer 15 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste.
- I recommend making a roux to thicken and deepen the flavor of the soup, however, it is optional. For the roux: Melt ¼ cup of butter in a skillet. Add ¼ cup flour and heat until bubbly, stirring constantly, and continue until it reaches a light caramel color. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of the soup. Add to the soup pot and allow to cook an additional 30 minutes.
- Top with chopped kale and serve with rustic bread and butter.
*Homemade beef bouillon can be made by reducing beef stock or by reserving and freezing the pan drippings from roasted meats.
Adding the roux to this recipe is not required, but does help bring depth to the flavors and creates a heartier soup.
This soup can also be made with leftover roasted chicken and homemade stock.