I posted this recipe a couple of weeks ago on Teddy Partridge’s Souper Bowl Sunday Late Night thread, but because some Firepups wanted it and didn’t see that thread, I’m posting it again here.
A flavorful soup requires a flavorful stock/broth as a base. My recipe for rich beef broth, and a beef vegetable with barley soup, is at my Food Sunday post from last November:
Rich Beef Broth, and Old Fashioned Beef Vegetable Soup
These recipes, with slight adaptations, are from the Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen’s Soup, Stews and Chilis cookbook, which I highly recommend. It is loaded with recipes that are exhaustively tested and are uniformly excellent.
Simple Chicken Broth (makes about 8 cups of broth):
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
About 3 lbs. whole chicken legs, backs, and/or wings, hacked with a meat cleaver into 2″ pieces. I use wings and legs, since backs are harder to find.
1 medium onion, chopped medium
8 cups water
2 tsp. salt
2 bay leaves
1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken pieces and brown lightly, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces and transfer to the bowl.
2. Add the onion to the fat in the pot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pot along with any accumulated juices, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken has released its juices, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the water, salt and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook, skimming as needed, until the broth tastes rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes longer. Simmering longer than 20 minutes will not improve the broth.
4. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer, then defat the broth. You can save some of the fat to use to cook the vegetables in the soup recipe to follow.
Chicken left over after straining the broth will be dry and flavorless, so discard it. You can use whole chicken for this instead, reserving the breasts after browning, and hacking up the remainder as described above. Add the reserved breasts back into the broth when you add the water, salt and bay leaves. Remove them and shred their meat into bite sized pieces, and strain the remainder as described. I often just purchase a couple of roasted chicken pieces from the supermarket deli instead.
Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
The flavor of this soup depends on homemade broth; do not substitute store-bought broth.
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, or use skimmed fat from broth above for richer flavor
1 medium onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 celery rib, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
8 cups Simple Chicken Broth (with or without shredded breast meat)
2 cups (3 oz.) wide egg noodles (I often use a few more noodles)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
Salt & ground black pepper
1. Heat oil or chicken fat in large Dutch oven until shimmering. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are nearly tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Stir in noodles and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. They will taste much better cooked in the broth than if you cook them separately and add them, although the broth will be slightly cloudy. Stir in the chicken meat and let it heat through, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Photo by Jeffreyw, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.