I don't know about you, but I have a long list of sick friends. I feel like the last one standing! Below is my chicken soup recipe, so you can nurse your clan back to health.
1 Whole roaster (variation: chicken breast, pint of mushrooms or even better, dried mushrooms like porcini, butter or quality olive oil)
A few celery stalks
A few carrots
A few garlic cloves
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
A few sprigs of fresh parsely**
Sprig of fresh rosemary**
**Totally unnecessary, but lovely additions
2 cups of flour*
2/3 cup milk (at least 1%, whole being ideal)*
2 tbs of butter, melted*
1 egg, well beaten*
4 tsp of baking power** (If you are omitting dumplings, then you don't need these ingredients. Alternatives are wild rice (cooked), noodles, or potatoes)
The first step to make a good soup is making a good broth. Wash your vegetables. Crush garlic to remove outer skin. Remove outer layer of onion and slice in half. As long as you have clean carrots well you don't need to peel. These vegetetables will be discared, no need to make them pretty.Next, if you bought the whole roaster, take the giblets out and whatever packaging was inside chicken must be discarded. In a large pot put whole chicken and giblets then fill with cold water. add the vegetables, bay leaf (also rosemary sprig if you have it) and cover. Apply medium low flame and leave it for about 40-45 minutes partially covered; do check though to make sure your broth doesn't boil down too much. If you aren't using the roaster, you would only put in the mushrooms and the fat (butter or olive oive oil about 1 1/2 to 2 tbs should be okay). If you do have chicken bones you could put those in too, but who just has chicken bones lying around? Oh, also if your chicken breasts aren't already cooked, you might as well put them into the broth to cook.
While your making your broth you will prep the vegetables for the soup. Clean your celery ribs, carrots and potatoes (If that is your starch). Peel appropriate vegetables. Cut vegetables pretty small, what is most important, though, is uniformity. You want to cut them so that they will cook evenly, so celery a little thicker and carrots thinner smaller, etc. When your broth is done you will remove the roaster and put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Then you will take off all the fat, bones and skin and discard. Then cut the chicken into bite size peices, of course if you're using the chicken breasts you can skip the earlier part. Cover your chicken and set aside with preped vegetables. Next you will strain broth. Keep liquid, discard the rest. At this point, you can actually put everyting away until you're ready to eat (Great if you have errands to run!).
If you are making dumplings you will want your dumpling ingredients ready to go. Sift flour salt and baking powder. Combine the egg, melted butter and milk and add to the flour mixture, stirring quickly until just smooth. Do not overstir as it will make your dumplings rocks. At this point you are ready to heat the broth under medium heat. Drop in your vegetables and the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While you wait for liquid to heat, finely chop parsely, if you have it, and add. Drop dumplings by spoonful evenly into boiling soup. Cover tightly and simmer 18 minutes. Do not peak. If you aren't making the dumplings, then you can add noodles, rice or potatoes when you first add the vegetables. Whatever starch you add, it wil be good, but I am partial to the dumplings. Anyway, that's it. Time consuming, but really great.