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Home-Style Chicken Soup

By Charlie Burke Created: October 24, 2012 Last Updated: October 24, 2012
Related articles: Life » Food
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Homemade chicken soup with a rich broth and mixed vegetables. (martinturzak/Photos.com)

Homemade chicken soup with a rich broth and mixed vegetables. (martinturzak/Photos.com)

I cannot recall the last time we have bought canned or prepared soup. We usually have the makings for chicken soup in our refrigerator or freezer because we roast one or two chickens most weeks. We have one meal of roast chicken and then use the remaining meat for sandwiches, chicken salad, or in soup. 

The carcass is always broken up and made into a rich stock, which is used for sauces and, most often, soups. Our freezer always has bags of chicken stock, which can be the base for many different recipes and soups.

Making stock from the bones is easy and yields stock much superior to any that one can buy. The term “stock” indicates that it is made from cooked bones, while “broth” is made from raw meat boiled in water. Either makes excellent soup, but stock is usually more intense than broth. 

Here, we will give an easy recipe for stock along with one for a rich, home-style chicken soup. Both are easy and economical, typical of frugal New England cooking, and offer flavor unequaled by commercial preparations. 

The stock is made with bones, aromatic vegetables, herbs, and seasoning. Soups vary, using vegetables of the season, and thus offer many variations depending on what is fresh in the market and the cook’s preferences. I like to roast carrots with the chicken and use those not served with the roasted chicken dinner in the soup. 

Usually, a starch such as rice or pasta is added, but many times we add only a mix of vegetables. I prefer to cook the pasta or rice in water or extra stock ahead of time so that the soup’s stock is not absorbed in the cooking. For the same reason, I do not store soup with the starch, which absorbs the liquid and loses its texture.

Homemade soups have rich flavor, are a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables, and have less sodium than the usually unhealthy levels in canned soups. So don’t throw away the bones from your roasted chicken—make stock and give your family great-tasting soups that are healthy and inexpensive. 

Use these recipes as guides to make your own variations, and serve your family and guests these fresh and healthy soups that are full of flavor. Add uncooked scallions, a dab of tomato paste, or a tablespoon of soy sauce for a different taste.

Stock

  1. Bones from a roasted chicken, which have been stripped of meat*
  2. 1 medium carrot, washed and coarsely chopped
  3. 1 medium onion, including skin, chopped 
  4. 1 stalk celery, chopped
  5. 2 sprigs parsley, stems and leaves chopped
  6. 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. 2–3 whole cloves
  9. Water to cover bones by 2 inches (approximately 2 quarts)

*If using bones from two chickens, double ingredients and add water to cover by 2 inches.

Place bones into a stockpot, along with all other ingredients. Cover with water. 

Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and lower to a simmer, cooking for 3 hours or more. Skin the foam from the pot from time to time. 

Strain the liquid, cool, and refrigerate. Remove the congealed fat from the stock and refrigerate or freeze. 

If you need the stock before it has been cooled, skim the fat from the surface with a large spoon or use a large ladle lowered below the surface fat and lifted straight up. The surface fat will run off the full ladle, leaving little or no fat in the ladle.

Chicken Soup

Makes 4 servings

  1. 4–6 cups chicken stock
  2. 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
  3. 2 cups cooked vegetables, such as roasted or boiled carrots, sautéed spinach or chicory, or whatever is available fresh* 
  4. Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or sage (optional)
  5. 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice, small pasta, brown rice, or wild rice
  6. Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Raw vegetables can also be cooked in the boiling stock before adding other ingredients.

Cook the rice or pasta according to directions or use precooked. Bring stock to a boil and add vegetables. Add herbs and reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken and starch, stirring until heated. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Use a slotted spoon to divide chicken, vegetables, and the starch among soup bowls and pour liquid into the bowls. 

Charlie Burke is a freelance writer, organic farmer, and cook living in the New England area. For more recipes, visit: www.TheHeartofNewEngland.com

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