Nearly every culture has some version of chicken soup and grandmothers have pushed it as a cure all for generations. Now health and wellness gurus like Dr. Oz are extolling its benefits.
Bone broth has become a new fad lately, too. It’s being called a fountain of youth. Purists will say that it must be cooked for 14 hours to maximize the magic, which FYI is why they can sell it for $14.00 a pint.
You can make delicious chicken soup with a modicum of effort, once a month, derive all of the benefits and use it in any number of ways.
We’ve tried a variety of recipes over the years. Everyone likes to make it their own way. This is our favorite.
Get a big pot, really big.
Rinse 2 whole chickens. Remove any funny business lurking in the center. And toss them in the pot.
Take 4-6 sweet onions. Peel the skin off. Cut them into quarters. And toss them in the pot.
No big deal right?
4-6 tomatoes rinse them. Cut them into quarters. Toss em in.
A handful of baby carrots. They come pre-washed. Just throw them in
1-3 stalks of celery. Rinse them well. The bottom part can be surprisingly nasty. Cut them in thirds. Give them a toss. If it’s tedious by now pretend the pot is the basket. 10 points.
2 parsnips, rinse, cut, toss
1-2 turnips. Same thing.
We like to add backs and necks. Yeah, yeah. Sounds gross. But they add cartilage and that’s the secret ingredient.
Cover everything in the pot with cool water. (Yes, it must be cold to maximize the release of the cartilage)
And bring it to a boil. Then get a move on and turn it down to simmer because a boil makes it splash. There are mesh covers called splash guards. Get one if you don’t enjoy cleaning. Don’t be lazy and put a pot cover on instead either. You want the liquid to condense.
By the way, and this is important. Don’t get the idea that you’re Slick Rick and start adding salt now. You can’t anticipate how it will affect the reduction. Maybe you’ll get lucky and it will turn out ok. Maybe you’ll end up with something only suitable for dehydrated deer in the cold dark winter. Don’t do it.
Now go about your business for 6 hours. No one is suggesting that you leave the stove on and unattended, for the record. Use common sense.
You really do need all 6 hours for quality stock. If you only do it once a month or so, it’s no big deal.
After the 6 hours, let it cool a bit because you need to strain it.
Get another big pot and a colander (that’s basically a pasta strainer) Put the colander in the empty pot. Do it in the sink. And dump the soup in, a reasonable amount at a time. Pick out the meat that you want and any vegetables that you want to save and throw them in the new pot
Now you’re in business. You can put it into containers and freeze it for 4 months. If you want to freeze it with the chicken in it just make sure that the chicken is covered in liquid. It dries out and gets freezer burn if you don’t.
We like to freeze some with chicken and some without.
With chicken- add noodles and it’s old fashioned chicken soup.( Or matzo balls )
Throw in some cilantro, boc choy and won tons and voila won ton soup. (We hate bean sprouts but they add to the ethnic integrity)
You basically have a quality canvas and you can create whatever you want.
Without the chicken in it-
This is the same as any Swanson’s or college inn chicken stock that you would use in any recipe, but it’s good.
Use it in stews, risotto, rice…
If you leave the fat on, it will solidify at the top. Jewish cooks call that schmaltz and use it in place of oil. It’s a staple but only if you’re ok with the cholesterol.
If you do this once or twice, you may not do it every month but the first time that you go to the freezer and discover that you’ve used it all up, you’ll make it often enough that you won’t let that happen again.
Food safety note- any time you reheat chicken soup. Bring it to a boil for 4 minutes,covered. That will neutralize any germs looking to make you their host.
Enjoy your chicken soup.