Keep it Simple, Soup

I’ve had the recipe for O’Charley’s chicken harvest soup in my files for years; due to the salt content I don’t think we’ve been to O’Charley’s five times in the last five years. (Their entrées run up to 6680 milligrams of sodium per serving.)

So at some point in the distant past we had this soup and decided we could make a better (and less salty) version ourselves. I never tried it, though, because I was fairly new to cooking and the directions intimidated me.

In a large pot, melt butter. Add flour and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the 2 1/2 to 3 quarts of water, stirring constantly. (The amount of water used depends on how thick you want the soup.) Simmer 20 minutes. Add chicken base and chicken stock.

While chicken stock mixture is cooking, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a separate pot. Add carrots, celery and onion. Cook 6 minutes. Drain. Add to chicken stock mixture along with white pepper and garlic powder. Simmer 10 minutes. Add diced cooked chicken tenders.

Cook noodles in a separate pan of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to soup. (Noodles will continue cooking in the soup.) Simmer soup 2 or 3 minutes more and serve.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

I dragged the recipe out to have a look at it last week, and realized that not counting the part about making the tenders, this recipe calls for using three separate pots for making soup. Seriously? Several more years of cooking experience mean that I knew that I could make it with only one pot and a much more logical (to me, anyway) process. Gravy-making with the roux method (I’ve never had good luck with the slurry method, and don’t even ask about cornstarch) was also useful information to have.

I cut the recipe in half; there’s only two of us to feed, and it still filled up my big pasta pot and lasted us a week.

Chicken first:
1 quart water
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
1/2 small onion, cut into chunks
1/2 rib celery, cut into 2-inch segments
1 1/4 pounds chicken

In your intended soup pot, bring water, bouillon, onion, and celery to a boil. Lower the heat, add the chicken, and simmer until cooked through. (Don’t overcook.) Take the chicken out to cool, strain the broth, and discard the solids. Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces.

1/2 stick butter
8 ounces fresh carrots, diced
3 or 4 ribs celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
3/8 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 quart chicken stock from earlier
5 cups water
1 tablespoon chicken bouillion
Cooked chicken from before
5 ounces egg noodles

Melt the butter in the soup pot. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté until slightly softened. Add flour, pepper, and garlic powder; stir until flour is thoroughly mixed in. Add chicken stock a cup at a time, stirring well after each addition to make sure the mixture stays smooth. Once the stock is in, add water and bouillon. Bring to a simmer and add noodles; simmer until noodles are almost tender, then add chicken and cook until heated through.

Next time we’re going to try adding some herbs, like rosemary or oregano. I don’t know how similar this is anymore to the original, but it’s good on its own. It pairs well with both saltine crackers and homemade bread.

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