Well before his "Top Chef" fame, Tom Colicchio gave Stephan a copy of his book, Think Like a Chef. Their food paths have crossed many times over the years, and Stephan has great respect for Tom's culinary acumen. One of my favorite dishes from his first cookbook is what he calls "My Favorite Chicken Soup." As Tom describes, "I know there are as many recipes for chicken soup as there are grandmothers in the world...this is my personal favorite." I couldn't agree more. The broth is simply divine, and the soup takes less than an hour to make. While Tom suggests using small shell pasta in the soup, since I only had pappardelle on hand, I went with that above. I love the touch of olive oil at the end, as well as the grated cheese and sea salt.
- 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
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.
Add the vegetables and thyme and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
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.
Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a serving dish. (Tom doesn't suggest you do this, but I usually skin the chicken when it's cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones and shred it.) 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. (I throw it in the bowl with everything else at this point.)