On my first mouthful of chicken soup tonight, I said, ‘whoa.’ Five minutes later, R said through his first mouthful, ‘this soup.’

I make pretty good chicken soup. Tonight’s, though, was well beyond ‘pretty good’ and into the, ‘is this the best soup I’ve ever eaten in my life?’ category. R, who is a huge fan of Thai chicken soup, wasn’t willing to go that far, but did agree that it was the best soup I’ve ever made.

I’m about 90% sure that it was accidental. Well, I know it was accidental, in the sense that I didn’t actually intend to make the best soup ever, but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t my tossing a few cloves of garlic into the broth or adding a little pepper that made the difference, but accidental in the ‘oh, dear, I burned this, I wonder if it matters?’ way.

My soup starts with home-made chicken broth. I use the bones, a little meat still on, from a grocery-store rotisserie chicken, plus carrots, celery, an onion with its skin on, and sometimes a few other random ingredients that are lying around. This time it happened to be garlic, but I honestly don’t think that made a difference. A little sriracha sauce, some salt, and this time a couple grinds of pepper, and then let it simmer for a few hours. Sometimes I let it simmer for days, but this time I wanted my soup, so I started it in the morning, around 9, and sieved the junk out of the broth by 5.

Then I saute the vegetables, usually just carrots and celery. I saute them because I figured out a while ago that if you cook the vegetables that way, they retain their flavor in the soup. It’s also faster, which was how I learned it, but I do it now because it’s yummier. This time around, I added onion. I don’t know why. Because we had one, I guess? Then I walked away from the stove. Oops. Bad idea. Or so it seemed. When I got back my vegetables weren’t gently cooked through, they were verging on burned. The onions, especially, had made it to browned and shriveled, and the carrots were almost blackened. But you know, I was hungry. And they didn’t look burned to inedibility, they were just darker than I would have liked.

So then toss the veggies in the broth, add some chopped over left-over chicken (what was left from the rotisserie), serve over left-over rice. I keep the rice separate from the soup until the last possible minute so that it doesn’t get mushy.

Today’s soup wasn’t actually that soup, it was the leftovers from that soup. The extra time spent simmering probably made a difference. But I think the real difference was those carmelized onions. The soup was really dark, almost the color of beef broth, even though it was chicken, and the taste was … yum. Just yum. A little spicy, a little sweet, solidly umami. Delicious.

I would go have some more right now if it wasn’t entirely gone. But next time I make soup, I’m going to burn the onions on purpose.

When I started writing, I had some other serendipitous mistake to write about. I’m pretty sure it had to do with WordPress. But my yearning for more soup has completely driven it out of my mind. Oops. Maybe I’ll come back with an update later!