Slow-Cooker Lemony Chicken Soup
This lemony, herbal take on chicken soup highlights produce, but the basic technique is useful any time you want chicken soup with minimum effort. Slow-cooking chicken in stock creates a richly flavored, double-concentrated stock. Homemade stock is ideal, but you can also use your favorite store-bought stock. Stock concentrate paste like Better Than Bouillon is particularly good because it is natural-tasting, cost-effective and keeps in the fridge for a very long time. (Check the jar for how to reconstitute the paste. For this soup, no need to use boiling water; tap water works fine.) This recipe is flexible: If peas and asparagus aren’t available, substitute two cups of quick-cooking vegetables, like fresh or frozen corn, baby spinach or arugula, or thinly sliced zucchini. Instead of tortellini, you can add an equivalent amount of cooked pasta or grains.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 6cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 ¼pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
- 2carrots, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
- 2celery stalks, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
- 4garlic cloves, minced
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- ½teaspoon onion powder
- Black pepper and kosher salt
- 1lemon, juiced (2 to 3 tablespoons)
- 1cup sliced asparagus (about 12 ounces, trimmed and sliced 1/2-inch thick)
- 1cup fresh or frozen peas
- 9ounces refrigerated spinach-cheese tortellini (optional; see Tip)
- ½cup chopped soft fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, tarragon, parsley, chives or a mixture
Step 1In a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, combine the stock, chicken, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, red-pepper flakes, onion powder and several generous grinds of black pepper. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if using salted stock, 1 teaspoon kosher salt if using low-sodium stock or 2 teaspoons kosher salt if using unsalted stock. Cover and cook on low until the chicken and vegetables are very tender, about 7 hours.
Step 2Increase the heat to high. Using two forks, tear apart the chicken into bite-size pieces. Add the lemon juice, asparagus, peas and tortellini, if using, to the soup. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender to crisp-tender, and the tortellini is cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the herbs; season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls to serve.