Mother Earth Living

Seasonal Soups and Stews: Hilltop Cream of Chicken Soup with Fines Herbs

Chase away the winter blues with robust seasonings.
By Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay
December/January 2002
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Be careful when adding certain seasonings if you plan to freeze the soup as chiles and some herbs and spices will become much stronger. Add salt and pepper with caution in long cooking soups.

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This Hilltop Cream of Chicken Soup with Fines Herbs is an old favorite from the 1950s, updated with fresh herbs. The recipe has been adapted from our book Southern Herb Growing (Shearer Publishing, 1987; revised 1997). MAKES 2 1/2 QUARTS

• 1 chicken, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces
• 4 cups water
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 cup sliced celery
• 1/2 cup shredded carrot
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sweet marjoram (1 teaspoon dried)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage (3/4 teaspoon dried)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (3/4 teaspoon dried)
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
• 1/2 cup butter or margarine
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 cups milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric
• 3/4 to 1 cup cooked white rice
• Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
• Additional chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1. Place the chicken pieces, water, vegetables, sweet marjoram, sage, thyme, parsley, and bay in a large, heavy pan (not a tall, deep stock pot) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is tender, adding more water as needed to keep ingredients covered by about 2 inches.

2. Remove the chicken from the pot. Cool until it can be handled; remove the skin and bones and cut the meat into bite-size pieces.

3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and blend in the flour. Cook until bubbling; gradually pour in the milk, stirring constantly. 

4. Add the cream, nutmeg, and turmeric. Continue cooking over medium heat until thickened and smooth; stir constantly to keep the mixture from sticking. 

5. Slowly add the cream mixture to the broth and vegetables, mixing well. 

6. Add the cooked rice, salt and pepper, and cut-up chicken meat.  Cook over low heat to simmering, stirring often. 

7. Add more milk and/or cream if the soup becomes too thick. Garnish with chopped parsley to serve.

Note: This soup freezes very well. If preparing for the freezer, skip the rice; cooked rice can be added later as you reheat it.

Click here for the original article, Seasonal Soups and Stews.

Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay are a mother/daughter team living, gardening, and cooking at the Festival Institute in Round Top, Texas. Madalene serves as the curator of the gardens and Gwen is the director of Food Service. 

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