5:30 challenge: chicken soup

5:30 Challenge

5 ingredients/30 minutes

Tonight’s solution

Easy Chicken Soup

To make the meal


I’m surrounded by people who believe chicken soup is the antidote for many of life’s ills. When I have time, I simmer a whole chicken along with onions, carrots and celery, then cool everything down, shred the meat, discard the solids, strain the stock, dice a whole new collection of vegetables, add some rice of noodles, return the meat to the stock and then cook until the vegetables are done. I serve some and divide the rest into quart containers which I freeze for those times when someone is in need of a little TLC.

This is not a dish that fits into the guidelines of the “5:30 Challenge” although it’s a great weekend cooking project.

So what to do when there’s no homemade soup in the freezer and someone is really in need of the comfort only a bowl of chicken soup can provide? This recipe is the answer. It goes together in 15 minutes. If you like chicken noodle soup, just cook the noodles according to package directions while the soup is simmering and then add them to the bowl.

If you keep onions and cartons of chicken broth in your pantry, and carrots and celery in the refrigerator, your only last minute shopping is for a rotisserie chicken. You could substitute any cooked chicken you have on hand, or even dice a raw chicken breast and let it cook in the broth along with the vegetables. If you go that route, skim the soup to remove the stuff raw chicken exudes when it’s cooking.

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can modify it in many different ways. Southwestern? Add a can of diced tomatoes and a can of hominy and spike the flavorings with cumin, cilantro and lime juice. Italian? Add a can of cannellini beans, some diced fresh or canned tomatoes and a little pesto. Asian? Water chestnuts, sliced scallions, grated ginger, soy sauce and a splash of toasted sesame oil and you’re there.

Take the 5:30 Challenge. If you have a great-tasting main-dish recipe that uses no more than five ingredients and can be made in 30 minutes or less, tell us. (Salt, pepper, water and oil for greasing a pan don’t need to be included in the ingredient count.) You can also suggest a side dish if it can be made within the same time. Send recipes with your name, address and phone number to fivethirty@ajc.com.

Easy Chicken Soup

Hands on: 5 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Makes 5 cups

1 (32-ounce) carton reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 medium onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 1/2 (one and a half) cups rotisserie or other cooked chicken, torn into shreds or chopped

In a large saucepan, combine broth, onion, carrot and celery and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken and heat through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Adapted from a recipe in Woman’s Day magazine, April 2010.

Per 1-cup serving: 140 calories (percent of calories from fat, 24), 21 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 36 milligrams cholesterol, 74 milligrams sodium.