Mark Bittman’s Easy Deconstructed Chinese Chicken Soup

This delicious deconstructed soup has a wonderful Chinese flair that is hard to beat. Chicken, carrots, celery, and Chinese spices combine to form this delicious soup.

Serves: 4    Time: 40 min    Cookbook: How to Cook Everything The Basics

Nothing beats a good chicken soup, and with some Chinese flair to this dish, there is even more to love. This recipe is simple and easy, and most of the cooking doesn’t require your full attention. Technically, this is not a soup, but is “deconstructed” to make a type of stew.

Jump Ahead:

Deconstructed dishes are unique takes on original kitchen creations. They often shift the emphasis away from one ingredient to highlight another. In Mark Bittman’s Deconstructed Chinese Chicken Soup recipe, he shifts the emphasis from a liquid-heavy offering and instead creates a type of stew that features the chicken and vegetables.

Pro tip: Looking for more fall favorite soups? Try making this easy chili recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Unique: This isn’t your regular chicken soup. The soy sauce in this recipe elevates the traditional soup and brings it to a whole new level. Since it’s deconstructed, you’ll enjoy more of the soup fillings and less broth, while the broth itself provies a flavor-packed background for the chicken and veggies.

Simple: At it’s core, this soup is simple to make and requires basic ingredients found in most peoples’ fridges, pantries, or freezers. If you have chicken, vegetables, broth, and soy sauce on hand, you can make this soup.

Hearty: This soup is a hearty one. Because it is filling-forward, the emphasis is on enjoying the chicken and vegetables instead of the broth.

Ingredients Needed to Make Mark Bittman’s Deconstructed Chinese Chicken Soup

To make Mark Bittman’s deconstructed soup, you’ll need basic whole-food ingredients you can find in any grocery store. In fact, you probably have a bunch of these items in your fridge, freezer, or pantry already.

  • 1 whole 3-4 lb Chicken
  • 6-8 cups Water, Chicken Stock, or Keto Bone Broth
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Celery Stalks
  • 1 bunch Green Onions
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 10 Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Cloves
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper

Equipment You’ll Need In the Kitchen

  • Stockpot: A stainless steel stockpot 6 quarts or more is perfect for this recipe.
  • Tongs: Tongs with a good solid grip on the end are ideal for maneuvering the chicken in and out of the stockpot when cooking.
  • Large Bowl: You’ll need a large bowl to shred the chicken once its been cooked.
  • Instant-Read Thermometer: To test the doneness of the chicken.
  • Slotted Spoon or Spider: A spider is a stainless steel webbed spoon that is perfect when working with fried foods or large pieces like the vegetables in this recipe. It allows you to scoop out large pieces of food while the liquid remains behind.
  • Ladle: A ladle is needed to pour out the broth into the bowls.

How to Make Mark Bittman’s Easy Deconstructed Chinese Chicken Soup

This deconstructed soup might require some patience while it cooks, but the end result will be well worth it.

Cook the chicken

First, place your chicken into a stockpot. Add the water or stock so it covers the chicken by 1 inch. You should also add the cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf, and soy sauce to the pot at this time. Bring this to a boil, then turn down the heat to low so it gently simmers. Cover the stockpot with a lid and let this cook for 15 minutes.

Add the vegetables

While the chicken simmers, cut the carrots into bite-sized coins. Cut the celery and green onions into 2-inch pieces.

Place the vegetables into the pot with the chicken and put the lid back on.

Continue to simmer for about 10-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Check doneness by inserting a thermometer probe into the middle of the chicken thigh. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reads 155-165°F.

Remove the chicken and vegetables

When the chicken is cooked through, carefully place it into a large bowl using tongs. Be sure you’ve got a good grip before lifting; if it falls back into the pot it could splash hot liquid onto you.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the pot and set them aside.

Reduce the stock

You now want to reduce the stock so the flavor intensifies. Turn the heat to high and let the stock bubble intensely until its volume has decreased by 25%. This should take around 10-15 minutes.

Pro tip: If you don’t want to wait quite so long for the stock to reduce, you can add some chicken bouillon to beef up the flavor.

Shred the chicken

While the stock is reducing and the chicken has cooled, separate the meat from the bones and skin. Shred the meat, discard the skin, and save the bones for homemade chicken stock.

Strain the broth and serve

Bowl of Chinese chicken soup

Strain the broth into a large bowl through a sieve to remove the whole spices. Taste the broth and add salt, ground pepper, and soy sauce according to your preferences. 

Place chicken and vegetables into a soup bowl, and ladle a small amount of broth over it all.

Deconstructed Chinese Chicken Soup Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

Can I use chicken breast or thighs I have in my freezer instead of a whole chicken?

You certainly can. Thaw the chicken you have on hand, then prepare it by following the recipe.

What spices can I use instead of cloves?

If you don’t have whole cloves, you can add a pinch of grated cloves, or leave it out entirely. This ingredient isn’t a deal-breaker and you’ll create a flavorful soup, regardless.

Can I substitute other vegetables for carrots and celery?

Absolutely. Experiment around with the ingredients you have on hand. Mix and match for unique flavor profiles. You might just find your family’s new favorite dish.

Can I add bouillon powder if I’m in a hurry?

Absolutely. If you have some chicken bouillon powder already in your pantry, add some to taste during the reducing process. When it’s to your liking, you can strain the broth and serve.

Print
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Chinese Chicken Soup is Served

Mark Bittman’s Easy Deconstructed Chinese Chicken Soup


Description

This deconstructed chicken soup makes for a flavorful, soul-warming meal that’s perfect on a cold winter day or night.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 whole 3-4 lb Chicken
  • 68 cups Water or Chicken Stock
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Celery Stalks
  • 1 bunch Green Onions
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 10 Peppercorns
  • 2 Cloves
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper

Instructions

Cook the chicken

  • Place chicken into a stockpot and cover with water or stock. Add cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf, and soy sauce.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and gently simmer. Cover and let cook 15 minutes.

Add the vegetables

  • Cut carrots into bite-sized coins. Cut celery and green onions into 2-inch pieces.
  • Add vegetables to the chicken and put the lid back on.
  • Continue to simmer for 10-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through with an internal temperature of 155-165°F, and vegetables are tender.  

Remove the chicken and vegetables

  • Place chicken into a large bowl to cool, and set aside.
  • Remove vegetables from the pot with a slotted spoon, and set them aside in a second bowl or a serving platter.

Reduce the stock

  • Turn the heat to high and let the stock boil for 10-15 minutes until its volume has reduced by 25%.

Shred the chicken

  • When the chicken has cooled, separate the meat from the bones and skin and shred.

Strain the broth and serve

  • Strain the broth to remove the whole spices. Add salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste. 

  • Place chicken and vegetables into a soup bowl, and ladle a small amount of broth over it all before serving.

Notes

Most of the cook time is while waiting for the stock to reduce. Keep an eye on it, but don’t feel like you need to be glued to the stove while it reduces. Use this time to meal prep for the next day, spend some time with your kids, or simply savor the moment while the flavors of chicken and soy sauce fill the kitchen.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 80
  • Category: Everyday Cooking
  • Method: Stew
  • Cuisine: Chinese, American

Keywords: Mark Bittman, Soup

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