I’m into soup this time of year, and Cream of Chicken is not only a yummy soup, it’s a great base for lots of hearty and healthy winter dishes. This easy, basic recipe makes a decent-sized pot of soup that can be used to make (in addition to just soup) Chicken Noodle Casserole, Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes, and pretty much anything with a creamy chicken base!
I adapted this recipe from one that was a bit more complicated (and a lot less healthy) on foodnetwork.com. This version is low fat (low for a creamed soup!) and low salt. For the EZ, I use store-bought rotisserie chicken AND store-bought gravy. The pre-cooked chicken saves about an hour of cooking time, while adding richness to the soup’s flavor. (You could always use leftover chicken in this soup, but the taste is superior using a whole rotisserie chicken.) Using pre-made gravy saves the time (and guesswork) of whisking together flour and butter as a thickener. For me it’s never as easy as the recipes describe to thicken a soup with flour and butter. It gets lumpy. I get grumpy. So I like the gravy shortcut.
When I say use Campbell’s canned chicken gravy, I suggest you don’t try to substitute another brand unless you check the label carefully. After checking three other brands of canned or bottled gravy, I was disgusted with all the weird additives in the other gravies! So I’d suggest using Campbell’s or making your own.
I will be posting other recipes that use this Cream of Chicken Soup as a base in coming days. Meantime, if you live in a cold climate, fight off the cold with a bowl of nice hot Cream of Chicken Soup! You can double this recipe and freeze the rest to use later. (If you decide to double the recipe, only one rotisserie chicken need be simmered in the soup, with the meat from a second chicken added once the first carcass has been removed from the broth.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery (with leaves), chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 -cans (10 1/2 oz) Campbell’s chicken gravy or 2 1/2 cups homemade chicken gravy
6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
1/2 to 1 cup (according to taste) sliced mushrooms
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken (from your grocery)
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup water
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the gravy and cook through, stirring occasionally, for 2 -3 minutes more.
Pour in the broth and stir well until gravy is dissolved into the broth. Add the whole chicken to the soup, including any juices (remove any twine or other foreign materials from the chicken before adding to soup).
Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Tie the parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine. (I used the twine from the rotisserie chicken!)
Add herb bundle, mushrooms, onion powder, garlic powder, and cracked pepper to soup. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Turn off heat and remove chicken from pot.
(Optional: For a creamier soup, pour about a third of the soup into a blender or Ninja/Vitamix and pulse til smooth. Pour blended soup back into the pot.)
Let chicken carcass cool, and then shred chicken, removing and discarding bones and skin. Add chicken meat back into pot, and bring to a boil.
(Optional: If you want a thicker soup …In a small bowl, stir together corn starch and water. Stir mixture into rapidly into boiling soup until it thickens, about 3-4 minutes.)
Remove pot from the heat.
Whisk the half and half into the soup and season with additional cracked pepper to taste. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Sprinkle chopped parsley atop soup and serve immediately (and freeze what’s left over!)