Chicken Soup 101

If you've never made homemade chicken soup, then you are really missing out in life.

a.k.a. "Jewish Penicillin".
A good chicken boiled in a pot with fat and vegetables will surely cure that cold or flu.

You can make the stock and save the shredded chicken for other meals (I usually get 3 different meals from the chicken, including the soup).

I love having freezers full of stock and soup for the lean winter months.
It's like money in the bank.

If you've ever made stock, you know that it comes out differently every time.

Sometimes I get a deep, dark brown stock and it's alarming, however, it always tastes good in the end.

Sometimes I get a big pot of gelatinous mess after it's in the fridge, and that's also scary. But once I simmer it down, it's all good again.

Chickens are all different. I like a kosher bird because it tastes saltier to me and is much leaner than big fatty commercial chickens.

A farm raised organic bird is also a good choice. It hopefully had a better life before it was beheaded and plucked. :)

This recipe is from Domenica Marchetti's Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy book, and I like her version the best so far, because she studs her onions with whole cloves and uses fennel stalks, which adds a great flavor.

Domenica recommends adding salt at the very end of cooking (the last half hour), so you don't have an overly salt soup.

Domenica's Chicken Stock:

1 whole 4-5 lb. chicken (or a chicken cut up that equals 5 lbs.)
2 onions, quartered
2 whole cloves
stalks & fronds of a fennel bulb (save the bulb for another time)
2 pieces of celery, cut into 2" pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
1 garlic clove, smashed
tbsp of whole black peppercorns
few sprigs of fresh thyme and fresh parsley

Take 2 of the onion quarters and stud them with the whole cloves.

Place the chicken in the biggest stock pot you can find, surrounding the vegetables & herbs all around and on top of it, to fit in snugly.

Pour in cold water all around and 2" above the chicken to cover.

Bring to a rapid boil and turn down to a simmer.

Simmer, uncovered for 3 to 4 hours, depending on how rich you like your broth.

During the last half hour of simmering, season your stock with salt.
I use about 3/4 tsp of Morton's salt, but you may like more or less, so taste and gradually add up to a tsp of salt to flavor.

Now, I take a slotted spoon and transfer all the chicken bones, skin, meat and carcass to a large bowl to cool. I get as much as I can out of the pot.

Now here's the hard part:
Make sure you have a strong person to lift the heavy pot and strain the solids (all the soft vegetables and mess) thru a sieve into another soup pot.

This is my husband's job.

I press the vegetables and solids thru the sieve/strainer and extract more goodness into the broth. Discard the bones, vegetables and whatever is left in the strainer.

Now you should have a pot with just clear broth ready to cool.
This will be your vehicle to use in other soups, stews and anything that calls for chicken stock.

Cool the broth for a few hours in the fridge or in the garage (like I do), and you will get a nice layer of fat.

Skim the lovely layer of fat off and dispose before proceeding.

Once the chicken in the bowl is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the carcass, and discard the fat and bones. This is my favorite part!
You should have enough meat for 3 meals (including chicken soup).

For Chicken Soup:

the entire pot of homemade broth that you just made
1/3 of the shredded chicken
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1/2 cup of small dried pasta of your choice

Bring the cooled and prepared stock to a boil on the stove and add in the newly sliced carrots, celery and pasta.

Cook at least 12 minutes so your pasta and carrots get soft.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Some people like fresh dill in the soup, but I didn't have any.

Makes enough for 5 bowls of delicious soup.

Though it's a long process, it's so worth it. It's healthier than canned soup, and you feel good eating it. Sort of like baking bread.

Enjoy & stay healthy.


Ciao Chow Linda said…
There's nothing more comforting than a good bowl of chicken soup with pastina and Domenica's version looks perfect.
Anonymous said…
hi stacy, try leaving the skin on the brown onions when you use them , just wash them well and cut them up as desired , they give the soup this incredible deep colour and flavour.

nothing beats making chicken stock anytime of year - the whole process is theraputic.!!!

Katie C. said…
You are right. Home made chicken soup is wonderful. I *try* to keep some in the freezer (w/o the pasta) for when I get sick. I freeze it in the big yogurt containers (leave a little air space) and then pop out the brick into a pot to thaw/cook.

You can also do a short cut stock if you use the carcass of a roaster chicken with your veg. The roasted bones provide the depth of flavor that you would otherwise get from the long cooking. The stock will tend to be a bit darker too but that's a good thing.
Rebecca said…
Sounds great! I like to make it with duck and matzoh balls. Yum...
Alfred B said…
Stacey. Stick to be a frustrated housewife... This cooking thing does not suit you
Janet C said…
Hi, Stacey!

I made your Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps for Super Bowl and they were terrific! I went ahead and boiled up some chicken thighs in a pot of water with an onion, some carrots, celery and peppercorns as you suggested. The stock was beautiful, dark and rich. I freeze it in ice cube trays, then empty the cubes into a freezer bag to keep for recipes using stock. Each cube equals one ounce!
Anonymous said…
I also made your chicken lettuce wraps and was rewarded with beautiful stock from the chicken thighs boiled! They were DELICIOUS and pretty too........even the guys ate them....first things to go!

Who is Alfred B. and why does he think you are frustrated? He needs to get a life. I love your recipes, yours is my go to blog for daily meals.
Thank you for all you do. keep up the good work!

Carrie in Michigan
Janet C said…
I agree with you, Carrie! I love your ideas for recipes and always check in when I need some inspiration for what to cook.

Thanks and don't pay any attention to Alfred B. He obviously doesn't have good taste!
Anonymous said…
Alfred B (!), the poor guy, needs a little help with his sentence structure! PERFECT recipe for today - will this winter ever end? Glad you have he-man Henry around to do your heavy lifting. If I stick to my plans, they'll be a pot of split pea soup w/ham stored in my garage by day's end - nothing makes me happier!
Stacey Snacks said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Ms. Snacks - I just noticed favorite kitchen item - the handsome olive wood salt keep. Considering it as a present for a friend. Did I miss the blog where you wrote about it? Folks on Amazon gave it mostly positive reviews. I'd appreciate any input, thank you!
Stacey Snacks said…
Regarding the French wooden salt box:
I think putting it on my sidebar as my "Favorite Kitchen Item" says a lot.

It's beautiful and I love it. I received it as a gift, and now I give them as gifts too. Your friend will love it. I use it daily for salt. (Salt post on Friday, where I will mention the salt cellar!).
Stacey Snacks said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melbourne Girl said…
I love the whole process of making soup/stock. Eating the soup is wonderful but making the stock is really comforting too
Carol L. said…
Hi Stacy, I usually just follow the blog and note your wonderful posts but I have to comment and say your chicken soup/broth looks fantastic.
Thanks for sharing. :)Your blog is very informative and bursting with color and beautiful recipes. I love it and have to appreciate the work you put into it. Another NJ commenter in W.O.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com
Anonymous said…
Nothing more perfect than a pot of "liquid gold"---any time of year. To make the straining part easier and to be certain I keep every drop---I usually ladle the broth out bit by bit, followed by the left over solids and then the pot is easy to lift to strain out the soup at the bottom of the pot. Just another way to manage the straining. Enjoy!!! Happy slurping.
Carol Rose said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oui Chef said…
Nothing satisfies like a homemade chicken soup....NOTHING!
domenicacooks said…
Stacey, thanks for the shout-out! It makes me happy to know you are cooking from Glorious Soups and Stews. That chicken stock has served me well over the years. It's a variation on my mother's classic recipe. She doesn't use the fennel but I like the sweet note that it adds. I'm fighting a cold right now so I guess it's time to get out the stock pot...again. Cheers, D
Hey Stacey! I always make chicken soup when I'm having a bad day. Then when it's simmering I turn on the Kardashians. Makes my life seem just dandy. Your pictures of the goodies in the pot before cooking look beautiful and I'm longing to make some soup. Have a great day, and yes,you're right... Karma is a bitch.
Susan I. said…
I do a similar recipe, except I add a couple of bay leaves instead of cloves. I need to try those and see the difference.
sixty-five said…
I recently started making stock as Michael Ruhlman suggests: put a roast chicken carcass (or whatever chickeny material you have) in a stockpot and cover with water. Put in a 180 degree oven overnight. In the morning add whatever aromatic vegetables you have and return to oven for an hour. Strain and store. I season it when ready to use. I like to chill it and then store it FLAT in ziploc bags in 2c amts for more efficient storage and quick thawing (run hot water over bag).
Lori Lynn said…
You know I've made a million pots of chicken soup in my lifetime, but never add clove. Gonna try that next time, thanks, as always, for the inspiration.