Although you can make this soup with any good chicken stock you have on hand–preferably one you have made yourself–the delight of this recipe is that it is self-contained.


My coauthor, Mary, learned to make broth this way when she worked with Edna Lewis on her book, In Pursuit of Flavor, and I love the technique. Miss Lewis, as she was always called, was one of America’s greatest cooks, and in her quiet way, she influenced many of us who came after. Born in 1916 in Freetown, Virginia, the granddaughter of freed slaves, she learned to cook with the bounty of the local harvest and she never compromised her strong convictions to use only the freshest and purest ingredients available. Nor did she compromise on the genuine hospitality with which such great food should be served.

This simple chicken soup is an example of how something fairly “everyday” can, with just a little care, make a hero out of anyone.

Serves 4


1 (3-31/2-pound ) chicken

Sea salt

1 large onion, chopped

5-6 fresh thyme sprigs

4 cups water

2 1/2 ounces egg noodles

Freshly ground black pepper


Cut the chicken into 10 to 12 pieces using a sharp knife or poultry shears. Salt them lightly.

Heat a 4- or 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. When hot, put the chicken pieces and onion in the pot and stir constantly for about 5 minutes to sear the chicken on both sides. Add the thyme, cover the pan tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes. At this point, the chicken will have released enough liquid to nearly cover the chicken pieces. If not, cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the water to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for 20 minutes. Drain the chicken broth into another pot or a bowl and set it and the chicken aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces.

Skim the fat off the surface of the broth. Return the defatted broth to the pan and add more water if you don’t have 5 to 51/2 cups. Add the egg noodles, bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes longer, or until the noodles are tender. Remove the thyme sprigs, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

This recipe also appeared in Michel’s Book Sustainably Delicious: Making the World a Better Place One Recipe at a Time published by Rodale Books.