What did people do before the Campbell’s Soup Company? Well I suppose that they cooked. Cooked from scratch, with whole ingredients. I was inspired to make this scratch version of this soup when I was challenged to make my family friend Sue’s chicken lasagna “my way”. I will post the lasagna tomorrow.
I have never liked condensed cream of chicken soup. It just tastes off to me. So I began to wonder, what does homemade cream of chicken soup actually taste like? Did it exist before the red and white can made it a kitchen staple? It must have, though a quick internet search has revealed no history on invention the dish.
While its origins remain a mystery, it is a mystery no more that the humble cream of chicken soup does not have to taste terrible, like the inside of an aluminum can! This creamy and nutrient rich soup turned out great. I used what I needed for the lasagna and froze the rest in pint and quart jars for easy use when needed (much like the convenience that the can offers). If you are feeling ambitious you should give this one a try. You could even add some orzo or rice and made a nice, well rounded, creamy soup to be eaten as a stand alone dish.
I adapted this from Nourished Kitchen, who adapted it from the great James Beard. You could make this same soup with store-bought stock, it just might not have the depth you will achieve by making it yourself. Also, if you want to make a stock from chicken bones and used pre-cooked chicken to make the soup, you could do that.
Cream of Chicken Soup.
4-5 lb whole fryer chicken
1 T sea salt
1 t black peppercorn
2 bay leaves
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, crushed with side of knife
4 stalks of celery, including leaves
4 large carrots, including tops
2 small/medium yellow onions
2 T butter
6 egg yolks (you can freeze the egg whites or use them the next day for egg white omelets!)
2 C heavy cream
Remove chicken from package and pat dry. Remove giblet package and discard or freeze for later use. I used the neck in this dish by adding it to the pot to make the broth. Place the chicken in an 8 quart stock pot. Cut leek into large sections and rinse well. Add to the stock pot. Add peppercorns, salt, thyme, garlic, bay, carrot tops, celery leaves, and one onion (cut in half) to stock pot. Cover everything with cold water. Heat pot to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for two hours, or until the chicken is nearly falling apart tender.
Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Remove solids from pot. Strain broth through a sieve and put it back in the stock pot. Simmer broth uncovered, over medium heat as you prepare the vegetables.
Finely chop carrots, celery and onions. Sauté in butter over medium heat until vegetables are tender, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When chicken is cool enough to handle, break it down and chop it. Reserve bones for another batch of stock (I went ahead and just made this at the same time since everything was already out). Place chicken and vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Beat egg yolks in a bowl and slowly add a few spoonfuls of stock to temper the eggs. Add egg mixture to the stock. At this time you can also add the chicken mixture. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Slowly add the cream.
**Just a note about my observations of this recipe, it is not as thick as you would think if you are used to condensed soup, it is much thinner as it is broth based, still wonderfully tasty, but if you want to thicken it up as a replacer, I would suggest adding a big roux and refrigerating the soup to solidify, then try it out. I have not tried this so if you do and it does not work please let me know.