There are many different methods to make chicken soup. On one end, you can use packaged broth and cook up chicken and vegetables right in the pot and have it ready in 30 minutes, and on the other the end you can start with a whole raw chicken, make the broth and then cook the soup. The method I use most often and the one I am going to share today is closer to the second side of the scale.
My chicken was already cooked for a previous meal, and the leftover carcass with a few remaining bits of chicken was stashed in my freezer. The original cooking method was probably roasting, with olive oil, salt and pepper, and maybe some rosemary. Also in my freezer, I keep a ziploc bag to throw any leftover bits of vegetables in – the ends of garlic cloves, limp carrots and celery, that sort of thing. I even started saving the stems from fresh parsley. Once the bag has enough stuff in it, thaw it out and you have the perfect makings of broth! The ingredients in this recipe are all approximate, adjust to your taste and what you have on hand.
Leftover roasted chicken carcass
A couple carrots
A couple celery stalks
Some bits of garlic
Half an onion
Pulp from one large zucchini (Completely optional – I had some so I threw it in! There really aren’t any rules here.)
Handful of parsley stems
Fresh ground salt
About 1 tsp peppercorns
4 heirloom carrots (the more colours the better!)
4 stalks of celery
8 small red skinned potatoes
Half an onion
1 clove garlic
Thyme and rosemary (or whatever herbs you prefer)
1/4 bunch of parsley, leaves only (because you used the stems in the broth!)
1. Break the chicken carcass apart either with your hands or a sharp knife. Break some bones if you can – this allows the marrow to leach out and makes the broth richer and more flavourful. This was the first time I’ve done this, and it was the best chicken soup I’ve made yet!
2. Roughly chop the vegetables. Cut the onion into quarters and the carrots and celery lengthwise to expose the most flavourful parts. There is no need to cut them smaller, it will just make it more difficult when you strain the broth later.
3. Heat oil in a large pot. Add chicken pieces and vegetables and saute for a few minutes. This is another way to add flavour.
4. Add enough water to cover the whole mess – I used about 10 cups. Add parsley, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours with the lid on. It doesn’t have to be exactly 3 hours, but the longer the better!
5. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl or pot, reserving all the broth. Now this is the annoying part… once the leftover bits are cool enough to touch, pick through and take out any remaining bits of chicken. Set the chicken aside. Don’t try to reuse the vegetables, they will have lost their flavour into the broth and they should be mush at this point.
6. Set broth in the fridge, if possible for several hours or overnight. Carefully skim the fat off the top. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can still skim it off, it’s just trickier. I don’t have any other tips for how to make it easier, just use a spoon and exercise a lot of patience!
1. In a large pot heat broth to a boil. Chop vegetables and add to pot. Add desired dry herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are done, about 30 minutes. Add parsley and chicken.
Serve with Red Fife & Hogsback Beer Bread! Makes about 6 servings.