Here are two basic chicken soups that I make all winter – the unadorned chicken noodle for when anyone in the household is feeling puny, and the tortilla soup when I’m craving the sparkle of those singularly robust south-of-the-border flavors.

You’ll note that they start out in similar fashion, with whole bone-in and skin-on chicken pieces, which have tons of flavor. The skin does throw off some fat, so skim off the excess, but leave a few “eyes” of chicken fat (as they’re sometimes called) on top for flavor.

The Quintessential Chicken Noodle Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Here’s the basic formula with which grandmas all over Maine cure whatever ails you, from the common cold to an algebra test to a computer glitch to a broken romance. This, of course, can be tinkered with in all kinds of ways – by adding more vegetables (such as peas, zucchini, broccoli florets, spinach leaves), by using rice or dumplings instead of noodles, or by varying the herbs.

3 to 3½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken, whole or cut up

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried

6 ounces dried egg noodles (1 to 2 cups)

¼ cup chopped parsley

Remove excess fat from chicken. Place in a large soup kettle with the onion, carrots and celery. Add enough water to cover the chicken (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil and skim off any foam and particles that rise to the surface. Add bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until the chicken meat is cooked through, about 40 minutes. Remove chicken, and when cool enough to handle, strip meat off the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Return bones to the pot and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove bones with tongs.

Return chicken meat to the pot, along with the noodles. Simmer uncovered until noodles are tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Skim off any excess fat from the top of the soup. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary; stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls to serve.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Sometimes people use packaged tortilla chips in this soup, and they do add a nice crunch (along with their tasty extra fat) but I prefer the pure corn flavor of unfried tortillas. Add an avocado salad, maybe more warmed tortillas on the side, and orange sherbet and chocolate cookies for dessert.

Makes about 4 servings

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1 large onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (14½ ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice

1½ cups frozen corn kernels

About 4 corn tortillas, cut into strips ¾-inch wide

1½ cups shredded mild cheese such as Monterey Jack

Lime wedges

½ cup cilantro sprigs

In a large soup pot, combine chicken, 6 cups water, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until chicken is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove chicken from pot, and when cool enough to handle, strip meat off the bones and shred into bite-size pieces.

Return chicken to pot, along with tomatoes and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered until corn is tender and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Skim off any excess fat from the surface of the soup.

Ladle into bowls and pass bowls of tortilla strips, cheese, lime wedges and cilantro for sprinkling on soup.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny