Sunday nights usually find me at home, with, remote control in hand—especially during basketball season. This soup is my favorite meal to enjoy in that relaxed mode. Since I know there are as many recipes for chicken soup as there are grandmothers in the world, I do not offer this as the definitive recipe; only as my personal favorite. In deference to my grandmother, I serve it as she did, finished with a dash of olive oil and a grating of Parmigiano over the bowl.
Yield: Serves 4
1 chicken, quartered, with bones intact (i.e., do not remove breast meat from breastbone), including necks and giblets
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
2 celery stalks, washed and cut in half
2 leeks, washed and sliced in half
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in half
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 sprig of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups small shell pasta (optional)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Coarse sea salt
1. Place 1 gallon water and the chicken in a stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer gently, skimming regularly, until the broth is fragrant, for about 30 minutes.
2. Add the vegetables and thyme and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, and divide the cooked pasta among 4 bowls.
4. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a serving dish. Ladle the broth and vegetables over the pasta and serve with grated Parmigiano (if using), more freshly ground pepper, and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil if desired. Sprinkle the chicken with coarse sea salt and serve alongside the soup.
Simmering the soup gently keeps the chicken from shredding apart.