Grandma’s Sick Soup, Sometimes Known as Snow Day Soup

A few years ago, my friend Jennifer told me her family was sick with the flu. What I heard was, “Stop at Kroger and pick up a ten-pack of chicken thighs to make the Johnstons a pot of soup!” I bought the chicken and immediately set about making stock. My husband came home, smelled the soup simmering, and automatically asked, “Who’s sick?”

A few weeks ago, I was sick with a winter cold. My mom’s sister, Rachelle, heated a bowl of chicken soup for me. It was warm and wonderful. She uses my rotisserie bone broth recipe to make the chicken stock and her mother’s recipe to make the soup.

Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Chicken Bones
This stock is made with roasted bones, veggies, aromatics, and water.
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Aunt Bridget’s Chicken Soup with Little Meatballs
This stock is made with raw thigh meat, bones, veggies, aromatics, and water.
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A few words on ingredients:

Canned Stewed Tomatoes:
I like to purée stewed tomatoes before using them in a recipe. While I love the instant flavor boost you get from a can of stewed tomatoes, I don’t care for the texture or taste of sliced and diced tomatoes. Rachelle turned me on to Del Monte’s brand of “Italian Recipe” Stewed Tomatoes and I like it.
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Heel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese:
Using the heel of a wedge of Parmesan as flavoring was Mom’s secret ingredient in both her spaghetti sauce and soup. I grew up with a baggie of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese heels in the refrigerator and for the longest time, I had no idea why Mom saved them. Truth be told, I may have even thrown a few away when I was cleaning out her refrigerator. Big mistake. Those Parmesan heels are solid gold. They are an instant flavor booster. They are also a little salty so be sure to taste test your soup before adding salt. Chicken carcasses, heels of cheese. You probably think I have the eye of newt in my fridge, too.
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Ingredients:
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4 quarts chicken stock
2 cans Italian-Style stewed tomatoes, puréed
1 can Fire-Roasted tomatoes, puréed
6 cups sliced celery (1½ pounds)
6 cups sliced carrots (2 pounds)
½ heel from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 teaspoons garlic pepper
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 pounds cooked chicken meat
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
salt to taste
1 head of escarole or other mildly bitter green, leaves washed and chopped
Pasta or ravioli, cooked in a separate pot of water

Mise en Place:
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Instructions:
1) Add stock to a large soup pot and heat until the gelatinous stock melts.
2) Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, and the Parmesan heel. Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer over low heat for about one hour.
3) Add chopped chicken, beans, and artichoke hearts. Simmer 30 minutes.
4) About five minutes before you are ready to serve, stir in the greens and turn off the heat. The greens will wilt almost immediately.
5) Adjust the seasoning by adding salt and more garlic pepper, as needed.
6) If serving with pasta, cook per the package’s instructions.

About escarole:
Escarole is sometimes hard to find in Nashville. I would check Whole Foods first and if they don’t have it in stock, try Kroger. It is often the green of choice for many Italian soups. It is mildly bitter.
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If you are going to serve pasta with your soup, I recommend using a box of ditalini, a small tubular and chewy pasta. It has always been my family’s favorite soup pasta. Cook it in a separate pot of water so the pasta doesn’t absorb all of your broth. Store unused cooked pasta in a separate container.
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Rachelle’s chicken soup heals what ails you.
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Sick Soup can easily become a very hearty Snowy Day Stew by adding artichoke hearts, rosemary, and ravioli. Last week, for a quickly organized dinner party for neighbors during a snow storm, I used a 20-ounce package of Buitoni Four Cheese Ravioli instead of the ditalini. I cooked the pasta in a separate pot; just as I recommend doing for the ditalini. Be sure to have a bowl of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the table to share.
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One of my dinner guests, on that snowy evening, was my neighbor, Ann Shayne, of the dynamic knitting duo at MasonDixonKnitting.com. Ann and Kay Gardiner have recently published a best-selling knitter’s coloring book. Check it out here. Rachelle colored the picture on the right from her copy of the coloring book. In the background of the photo on the left, you can see the knitted mitered-square blanket that Kay taught me how to make. There are how-to instructions for knitting this blanket in MDK’s first knitting book.
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Like bone broth, knitting is good for you, too; just ask New York Times health columnist, Jane Brody. She recently posted an article about the health benefits of knitting in the NYT. I’ll find out real quick if my sons read my blog by whether they notice I’ve exposed a Mom’s Trade Secret about raising them in a comment I posted in response to Brody’s article.
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So, here’s to a little winter cold therapy with sick soup, or cups of bone broth, knitting, and coloring.
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LET’S STAY CONNECTED!

Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2021 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

21 thoughts on “Grandma’s Sick Soup, Sometimes Known as Snow Day Soup

  1. So many excellent ideas – thank you! I had soup for breakfast this morning: carrot-ginger (storebought organic) with leftover cooked chickpeas and the “sauce” from baking pork chops in milk and mustard yesterday added in and stick-blended. I expect at least one more set of modifications before scraping the bottom of the pot 🙂

  2. Oh good lord, Quinn, that sounds delicious. And Judy, thanks for the luv and the incredible bounty of chicken soup thinking. So cool how your storehouse of knowledge and recipes is multiplying and echoing. LUCKY US.

  3. A warm memory of a bad flu season. I remember it very well. I’m pretty sure we all turned the corner after that soup. Now that I have this recipe, it’s time to pay it forward, Judy style. Love you!

  4. Well, I thought I knew a lot about making soup. Now I know more. The “who’s sick?” question about the soup reminds me of our “crisis casserole.” When my family sees me making that dish, they know someone needs help.

    Love your blog.

  5. Winter is the ideal time for nourishing the Kidneys, and soup is the perfect winter food. Bone broth is prepared in cultures around the world as both a tasty, healthful soup and an easily digested medicinal food. The prolonged cooking of bones in water results in a broth rich in nutritional constituents that promote strength, tonify blood, nourish in times of sickness and rehabilitation, and help to prevent bone and connective tissue disorders.

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