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Chicken Soup for the Social Distancer

Daniel Chudnow
Mar 18 · 8 min read

Find yourself locked away in your home in order to “flatten the curve”? Have scenes from movies about zombie apocalypses (apocalypi?) flashing through your mind? Have you been obsessively googling “Can I get a virus from Corona Extra?” Well then you should try my “Absolutely Ultimate Never Fail 19-Step Chicken Noodle Soup”!

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That’s some weak-looking soup. Yours will come out much better than that.

In happier times, I used to make this recipe on cold winter nights, when the wafting smell of freshly prepared stock would encourage satisfying “ahhh”s from my house full of guests, and the feeling of warm, stick-to-your-ribs soup would bring smiles to crowd’s faces. Now just mentioning crowds makes me start to sneeze a little. I know sneezing isn’t a symptom, but I seem to have developed some kind of anxiety induced allergy to large groups of people. That also might explain these angry hives on my arms, which I’m just planning on ignoring.

Anyway, I could spend time explaining why this recipe is good for you, but I suspect that you are just scrolling down past this description, will quickly look at the ingredients list, and make up the order, time, and serving size to suit your own sordid needs. You’ll quickly glance at the photos to see if the recipe interests you (jokes on you, my cell phone camera is crap, and I can’t go to the store to replace it, so these are all stock photos!)

Since almost no one reads this far into the recipe description, and because I haven’t seen my friends or family in weeks, I feel fairly comfortable finally saying, “Fuck you Great Uncle John. Seriously. I can’t believe you did that to your own brother. Disgusting.” There we go. Years of built up family trauma, purged. This recipe is great to take all those ingredients you just have lying around your pantry and turn them into something delicious. Or at least, it was, before your pantry was filled with gallon jugs of Purell. Please don’t put Purell in this soup.

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Aw, yeah. Now that’s a soup close-up.

Anyway, here’s the recipe! (Did you get it, stock photos? That was a broth joke.)

— — — -

Yields: 5 quarts, or 10 meal-sized servings. Good news, you are eating nothing but chicken soup this week!

Cook time: Just enough time to distract yourself from the sound of the stock market tanking and your already meager savings poofing out of existence.


2 medium unpeeled whole yellow onions. I know that sounds like not something anyone would cook with, but stay with me.

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled. Okay, now I guess I’m getting a bit lazy. You can take the peels off if you want.

1 large carrot. You guessed it, unpeeled. You’ll find a limp-looking carrot at the bottom of your vegetable drawer. This is the last one in town, because inexplicably people assume they will need 10 pounds of carrots in case they get quarantined.

1 large parsnip, optional. Okay, I get it. You aren’t going to have a parsnip. No one just has a parsnip. Add this to your Peapod order, and hopefully it will come within 7–10 business days.

1 large celery rib. This is the only recipe you’ll be making in the next few weeks that calls for celery. So either you should buy a head of celery and make Ants-on-a-Log minus one rib, or just leave this out.

4 quarts water. Water is something you have for free in your sink. You didn’t go out and buy 10 gallon jugs from the store, and you feel pretty judgy about people who did.

4 lbs chicken bones. It’s a good thing that every time you had friends over immediately before this, you collected their gnawed-on chicken bones and put them in the fridge. I heard in a YouTube video from a guy with a British accent that the virus can’t survive contact with bones.

1 tbsp salt.

1/2 tbsp dried thyme.

1 bay leaf. I know you have that jar of bay leaves and every time you remember to use one, you give yourself a high five. So give yourself a high five, dude. Then wash your hands. They shouldn’t have touched each other.

1 tbsp tomato paste. Yes, I know, tomato paste comes in 3 tbsp cans. I’m a real bastard for telling you to just use 1 tbsp, and frankly, I never expected you to add this in.

Broth instructions:

Hopefully you have a gas stove. If you don’t, I guess just ignore the second and third steps.

1. Wash your hands. Why don’t all recipes start this way? We probably could have avoided this whole mess. It’s a good thing you learned some Shakespeare/rap lyrics/Wiggles song to time out your hand washing.

2. Turn on gas burner, and carefully char onions over gas for one minute on each side. This helps caramelize the sugars and gives a richer flavor to your stock. Carefully, remember, because if you burn yourself, no one is going to examine you at the hospital. They have bigger shit going on right now.

3. I guess do the same thing with the carrot and celery? Honestly I’m not sure if that will do anything, but it couldn’t hurt, and I’m going to be adding in extra steps to distract you from the fact that you aren’t sure if you’ll get a paycheck this week.

4. Toss all the broth ingredients in a pot and bring it to a slow boil. You can start with boiling water and put in ingredients one at a time if you want. It probably won’t make a difference, but it will occupy more of your time. The busier your hands are with this recipe, the less likely you are to touch your face. The internet told you not to touch your face, because it will make people die in Seattle, or something. Seriously, stop thinking about touching your face.

5. Let that simmer for 3 hours. The broth, not the endless racing thoughts in your mind. Occasionally some soup scum will float to the top. No one actually knows what this is or where it comes from. Isn’t it amazing how little we as a society know? It’s like no one is in charge here! I guess get rid of the scum, because it looks gross. That can be your job for now.

6. Line a pot with a strainer or sieve in your sink. Pour the broth into the strainer, and throw out everything except for the broth. This feels pretty good, doesn’t it! Everyone is out there hoarding toilet paper, and you are tossing vegetables into the trash! I’d tell you to do something responsible like compost them, but the compost drop off point is 2 blocks away, and you might come within 25 ft of another person who is also going to drop off their compost. So I say toss those soggy veggies!

7. Wonder what that tomato paste was for. I assume if you had it, you neglected to put it in. Just like you neglected to buy toilet paper last week, thinking, oh, I have two rolls left. What’s the worst that could happen? Welcome to the worst that could happen. So I guess just throw it in now. You could leave the broth in the fridge for up to two days before finishing, in case you make this in advance of having guests. You should probably advertise on Facebook that you are having guests over, and see what the societal reaction is!

To Finish:

3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves. Could I have warned you that you didn’t need extra bones in the first part of the recipe, and you could have just used the bones from this part in the broth? Yes I could have. But see the note in the broth ingredient list about tomato paste. I’m just as socially isolated as you, and I have to get my rocks off somehow.

2 large carrots. YES. I get it, you don’t have carrots. You used your only carrot on the broth, and you already threw it out. So don’t put them in. Whatever. It’s called chicken noodle soup, not chicken noodle carrot soup. Nothing really matters anymore.

I could list more fresh veggies to put in there, but it’s enough already.

9 oz spaghetti. Your grandmother uses egg noodles, and if she were here, she’d call you something rude in Yiddish. But you obviously don’t have egg noodles. They only sell those in the kosher section between the Dr. Brown’s and the canned anchovies, and you are way too bougie to be seen buying them. So spaghetti it is, or whatever buckwheat-Thai-soup noodle you bought last year when you saw them in the Asian section of the organic market and knew you would cook with them within a week. Also, call your grandmother. She’s like 90 years old and goes on cruises 4 times a year. This might not work out too well for her.

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, for garnish. LOL. Just kidding. Even when all the grocery stores were open, you never bothered buying parsley.

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No article is complete these days without one of these graphics.

Finishing Instructions

8. Wash your hands again. No, a gentle rinse is not enough. Frankly it’s shocking that you didn’t get bubonic plague before this.

9. Put the broth back in your soup pot. Get it back to a boil. This might take a while. Take a breath. Remember that underreporting of sickness in China either means this is much worse or much better than they say on TV.

10. Put the chicken in, and boil it for 20 minutes.

11. Wash your hands. This time it’s because of salmonella, which really seems insignificant at this point.

12. Take it out, and reflect on how boiled chicken doesn’t actually look that bad.

13. See a news alert on your phone that 350 people died today in Italy. You probably should have made more soup than this, you might be here for a while.

14. Throw in the carrots, chopped up small if you have them; let them cook for 5 minutes.

15. Put the noodles in, and let them boil for 10 minutes. You probably should break them in half before throwing them in, otherwise they are going to be annoying to eat. Who wants to eat soup with a knife? I’d call that ‘first-world problems’, but they aren’t self-isolating in Nicaragua, so I guess the joke’s on you.

16. Cut up that chicken into small chunks. I guess throw out the skin, but save the bones for next week? Who can even plan that far into the future? Put it back into the pot, let it cook for another minute or two.

17. Have a bowl of it now. Thank God for Instagram. If this thing was happening 20 years ago, you would have no way to brag about soup. People will comment things like “OMG so YuMmY can I come over and have some LOL just kidding! 🤩🍲” This will bring you greater joy than the soup ever could.

18. Realize that you don’t have nearly enough Tupperware to keep this in your fridge, so put the whole pot in there.

18. Over the next week, the noodles are going to absorb more and more liquid until they are a soggy mess as your soup turns into stew which turns into some slippery chicken. This will be a delicious comfort as your society crumbles around you.

Daniel Chudnow

Written by

Daniel Chudnow

Written by

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