Deb Paskall’s Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Deb Paskall is another friend I’ve met on social media, through mutual love for flyfishing and cooking. I’m definitely an amateur of the former, while Deb is very much an accomplished professional – She’s a Pro Staff member for Sport Fishing on the Fly, and for Semperfli as well. 

I recently commented that Deb ‘paints with fly tying stuff,’ a bit tongue in cheek, but on the mark. Like developing recipes, coming up with fly patterns that not only look amazing and catch fish is no easy task. While she seems to do both effortlessly, it ain’t necessarily so – she’s put in a lot of hard work to get to where she is. Deb lives, fishes and ties in the stunningly beautiful town of Nelson, British Columbia – and she still cooks wonderful food.

Speaking thereof, she brings us soup today, done right – fast enough to be a fairly quick decision, slow enough to be done right. She writes, ‘according to my sweet neighbor, this is the best chicken vegetable soup she’s ever had – I’ve been making soups for many years, and I used to own a soup kitchen.’

What she’s sharing with us today demonstrates what great home cooking is all about – deceptively simple, inspired, delicious, and based on experience and intuition – she wrote, ‘Here’s my recipe, and sorry, but I don’t measure anything – All to taste.’ As such, some of the proportions and play by play here are mine, which is also how things should work – when you make it, use Deb’s and then make it yours.

Deb’s Chicken & Vegetable Soup

4-6 Chicken Thighs (Bone in, skinned)

1 large Onion (your choice – I prefer Red or Sweet)

2-3 Stalks Celery (with leaves, and Celeriac would be fine too)

2 large Carrots

1 large or two medium Potatoes

3-5 fat Cloves Garlic

3-5 whole Turkish Bay Leaves

1-2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning (Store Bought, or see below)

Kosher Salt & ground Black Pepper to taste

Optional: Fresh Parsley to garnish

House Made Italian Seasoning

1 Tablespoon dried Basil

1 Tablespoon dried Oregano

1 teaspoon dried Parsley

1 teaspoon dried Thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried Marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

Thoroughly combine all ingredients, store in clean glass, in a cool, dark spot.

Remove the skin from the chicken thighs if you didn’t get skinless.

End trim, peel, and rough chop onion, celery, and carrot.

Peel, end trim and mince garlic.

In a stock pot over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering.

Add diced and minced veggies and sauté for a couple of minutes, until onions just start to turn translucent.

Add the chicken, bay leaves, and fresh water to cover, plus about 2” over everything.

When soup begins to boil, reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer – let that work for about 60 minutes.

With a pair of tongs, pull the thighs from the mix and put ‘em in a mixing bowl.

Peel and dice the potato(es), and leave them in a mixing bowl, covered with water.

Let the soup simmer for another 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones, shredding by hand.

Add the chicken, drained potatoes, and Italian seasoning to the mix, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Deb notes that you can substitute noodles, rice, or quinoa for the spuds if you prefer – If you do that, it’s best to have those cooked, and add them to individual bowls right before service.