I have been a mama a pretty long time now, and I come from a long line of ladies who knew the power of soup, so I feel qualified to tell y’all that this is the best cure for whatever ails you that I know. Plenty of chicken flavor, plenty of chicken meat, tender carrots, and rice, and a sweet little surprise tarragon flavor make this just about the most comforting, healing food you can serve. I make it whenever anyone’s sick—or even just thinking about it—and it has never failed to improve things.
SERVES 6 TO 8
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 8 pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, halved crosswise
1 large yellow onion, halved through the root end
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. In a large stockpot, combine the chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, and tarragon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken and carrots from the pot and set aside. Strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids. Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in the rice, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and thinly slice the carrots. Return the chicken and carrots to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning and stir in the parsley just before serving.
THE BONES HAVE IT
Flavor, that is. It’s always best to stick with bone-in meat when preparing soups because that’s where your soup gets all its richness and flavor.