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chicken soup secrets?

I plan to make chicken soup for the Passover seder -- first time here. I'm taking over the chicken soup duties from my mother-in-law, so the pressure is on! Basic recipes look very straightforward. But what are your secrets? Does anyone:

1) use roasted pieces of chicken or root vegetables for more concentrated flavors?
2) add extra chicken necks, feet, or other parts that add more flavor?
3) sneak in some Better Than Bouillon or other ingredient?

How do you go beyond the basic recipe in making chicken soup?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I clarify the broth. Makes a clear soup. I did this with turkey soup this year and my guests said it was the best turkey soup they had ever had. I think appearances are really important. I don't add anything like better than bouillion. I just use onions, carrots, fennel and bouquet garni.

    1. I was rushed one night and fried up the pieces prior to adding them to the soup. The daughters raved about it so that's what I do now instead of roasting the chicken prior.

      I like your idea of adding roasted vegetables, though. I think I'll give that a try, too. What root vegetables besides celery and carrots are you adding?

      1 Reply
      1. re: The Ranger

        Darlink, if you're not much into roasted veggies, let me make a suggestion to get you off to a GRAND head start.

        ANY chile pepper, hot or mild, even bell peppers of any color, can be roasted. Get out the griddle (preferably cast iron), and lay them on the DRY griddle. Roast until the skins get black and blistered all over - or close to it. Keep turning them to expose the skins to the heat and mash them down a bit as they soften.

        Then pop them into a bag - I've used plastic grocery bags with no problem, and fold the top over them for about five minutes. This lets the steam help to loosen the charred skin. Then remove the skin. I do it under a thin pencil of water from the tap. A purist might say I'm letting flavor go to waste, but it really isn't much, so I do it anyway. You don't have to remove skin that didn't blacken. The blackened stuff should all be removed, but crumbs of it here and there actually add to the "roasted" flavor. Bigger pieces feel like cardboard in your mouth.

        Now, just remove the seed ball and ribs, then slice them. What to DO with them? If you don't have a recipe already in mind, put them in salads. What I love best is to put them in a jar with my favorite homemade vinaigrette. After a day, they're delicious right out of the jar. Or on crackers. On sandwiches. There are lots of uses. The ones that you don't put in a vinaigrette can be used in a multitude of veggie dishes. Once you start enjoying roasted peppers, you'll be hooked. I use roasted poblano (ancho) peppers, which are only mildly hot when still dark green, remove the inside stuff so that the pepper itself is a pocket or bag. Into which I insert a lovely thick slab of my favorite melt-y cheese. Then dust in flour and fry in oil. They're delicious as-is on a plate, but could also be put onto a rather lavish sandwich. Maybe with some succulent and juicy chicken or other meat.

      2. I use "dark meat" chicken parts -- wings, legs and thighs. In addition to carrots, celery and onions, I also use parsnip. I make a large pot of chicken soup (I use a 12-qt. stock pot) and I add a whole bunch of parsley, tied up in string, for the last 15 minutes of cooking. I strain and de-fat the soup before serving, and I snip a small amount of fresh dill into each bowl when I serve the soup.

        1. Mine: There are a million out there that is for sure. If I am making it for a special occasion I make sure to make the stock from scratch. Now people like different veggies in theirs. I am pretty traditional on mine, but I do enjoy rutabaga and parsnips. But this is a great recipe and my standby when I have time. I have other versions, but they have shortcuts when I am pressed for time.

          So here is my original recipe:

          2 pounds of chicken (wings & back, usually, or wings and thighs, or use a couple of whole cut up chicken and save some pieces for a later use); 1 large onion just quartered; 4 garlic cloves (I hit them one to slightly break but just keep the skin on is fine; 1 carrot peeled, just cut in 2 or 3 pieces; 2 ribs celery again just cut in 2 or 3 pieces; 1 bay leaf; 1 leek, just in thick slices is fine; 1 teaspoon peppercorns; 1 teaspoons kosher salt; I like to make a small bouquet of thyme, rosemary, and marjarom tied up to let simmer. Just full pieces no need to chop and 10 cups of water.

          This makes a great stock . There may be easier recipes, but I love this and I don't do it as often as I like due to time. But worth it. I cook for about 1 1/2 hrs, give or take on a medium simmer and covered. Cool and strain.

          Now the soup:
          About a 3-4 lb chicken quartered; 1 large onion diced; 2 carrots peeled and diced; 2 celery ribs diced; 1 parsnip peeled and diced; OPTIONAL 1 small rutabaga peeled and diced; OPTIONAL I like 1 small red pepper diced (I like it); OPTIONAL I like a small amount of fresh mushrooms too, thin sliced (just me); 2 quarts of stock; Your favorite noodles, I like a thick hearty noodle; 1 tablespoons fresh thyme and parsley; salt and pepper to taste.

          Add the stock and the chicken, bring to a boil and then turn to a low simmer. Cook about 1 hr covered until the chicken is done. Remove and now add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Do this while the chicken cools. Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle. Chop and return to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce and cook another 30 minutes. Check for seasoning. Then add your noodles and cook until tender. I like to garnish with fresh parsley.

          1. I brown the chicken parts first which I find adds more flavor. I have never added roasted veg but I bet that would be fantastic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mels

              Check out my reply above about roasting peppers. It's more than fantastic - it's addictive.

            2. I have on ocassion added chicken feet to my soup and they tend of change the flavor of the broth, and darken it. So if you're looking for a traditional clear broth for a special ocassion I would not recommend them. Having said that for a regular family dinner I think they're a great addition to chicken soup.

              8 Replies
              1. re: maria_nyc

                Okay. I keep seeing people mention adding chicken feet but I'm at a loss of just where they'd be located in my local grocer's poultry section. ;)

                Are these something that mainstream grocery chains are afraid Middle America would freak over so hitting an ethnic grocer would be a better bet?

                1. re: The Ranger

                  i've never seen them anyplace but ethnic markets (notably chinatown) and i live in a very diverse neighborhood. they do darken the stock but add gelatin for body -- making a richer soup.

                  years ago i stopped adding celery to stocks and broths after reading that it's a thomas keller trick. they do taste less bitter without. as for roasted vegetables and bones, it depends what you want. roasted ingredients will make a darker heartier soup.

                  i also only simmer the chicken til the meat is poached through. i remove it; let it rest til cool enough to handle then pick the meat from the bones and return the bones to the pot. ideally, i make the stock a day ahead so i can strain out the solids, refrigerate overnight and skim all the fat off. then i add a fresh batch of finely chopped carrots, onions, garlic and sometimes parsnips or a bit of grated ginger. simmer, add noodles or rice. add fresh thyme and the picked chicken meat at the very end to heat through.

                  to the op: soup is one of the most forgiving things you can make. don't stress.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    They sell them at my local supermarket, Associated on 14th and 1st in Manhattan.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      The twice cooked chicken is good, only I do it in a pressure cooker.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        You should never omit an ingredient because it has some bitterness. Bell peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, eggplant, and others DO add some bitterness - more if you use a lot, like mushrooms.

                        Sugar counteracts bitterness. You use it in TEENSY quantities, 1/8 tsp or less at a time. Mix it in, then check the taste. Repeat until the bitterness is gone or down to an acceptable level. When I make cucumber salad, I always include a pinch or so of sugar. You won't taste the sugar in any dish, because the amount is to puny.

                        Lots of people heavily salt things like eggplant and cucumbers to get rid of the bitterness, but I find it also makes them go somewhat limp. And you have to wash it off, too, or get much too much salt in your dish. I prefer sugar.

                        You're right that soup is very forgiving. But not if what you want is magnificence! Like all magnificent things, it isn't easy to achieve.

                      2. re: The Ranger

                        I have seen chicken feet at my store, occasionally. However, I can buy thighs or drumsticks or quarters for $1.00 per pound. Why use feet when you can get thighs?

                      3. re: maria_nyc

                        My grandmother used to add chicken feet to her soup -- and little chicken yolks taken from the inside of the chicken, too. They were two special treats, served with the soup.

                        1. re: maria_nyc

                          Thanks for mentioning chicken feet. I remember them being added to chicken soup many years ago. I recently saw them in the meat counter of my favorite asian supermarket.

                        2. Chicken feet for sure. A 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric adds a really nice color--I use this when making matzo ball soup.

                          1. You will get hundreds of recipes and all good in their own way, pick and choose what works best and easiest for you as well as what you and your family and friends are used to. I made mine one year with roasting the chicken, even I could not tell the difference and one year with store bought good stock, again a bit of difference but I made up with it by adding some thin diced fennel to the soup and again, no one knew. So love to challenge, but make what is best for you and the family, not just the best recipe you can find. Just a thought.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              I may be way off, as I have learned over the years of consulting Chowhounders, there are better cooks out there than I. However I just started my soup for Passover early this morning and I always cook it All Day Long at a bare simmer. I start with an entire stockpot full of bones, and strain off all the scum in the first hour. Then I add all my vegetables at once, carrots, celery, onions, parsnip, parsley and dill. (Now I'm afraid of the dreaded celery bitterness) The bare simmer seems to keep the soup pretty clear, but i don't go to the trouble of clarifying it. After cooling and de-fatting it, I frreze it in ziploc bags laid flat on a cookie sheet...can store tons in my freezer this way. I only season it once I am preparing the finished soup. Next time I am going to try roasting everything first!

                              1. re: donali

                                Like I said, hundreds of recipes. It depends what our parents did, what we have learned. This is just my favorite. That is why I said, do what is best. I never have an entire day to cook, ever. I work 7 days a week. I still have great results and fantastic soup and everyone will have a different version. None are right and non are wrong. Use use my for lunches catering and they love it, but I'm sure there will always be better and worse recipes out there.

                                Add, don't like dill in my chicken soup, just me. If I'm home for more than 4 hours at a time, that is a semi vacation. But no, I understand and if it works ... great!

                                1. re: donali


                                  Ditto for me on your process - minimum vegetables are onions, carrots and celery (I like the bitterness), and leek. Other vegetables find their way in based on the contents of the 'trash bin' in my freezer (although I typically am also making a vegetable stock at the same time). Also, bay, peppercorns, and garlic. I start it first thing in the morning on the days I allocate to making pantry items and general home care (laundry, deep cleaning, organizing, bill paying, house falling down, etc) and manage to get the 6-8 hours in (wished the other tasks took this small amount of time!). If I weren't home, I'd invest ina slow cooker and make it overnight.

                                  I don't roast the bones or vegetables for chicken stock - by choice.

                                  The rest of the chicken soup process is then a piece of cake (or a bowl of soup)!

                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                    I understand, hence why I have a slow cooker. I usually go to bed between 1 and 3 and up by 6. Most days work 2 jobs so rarely home. Sometimes home for 2-3 hours during the day but then back out but that doesn't happen much. I'm usually running around doing errand during that time. Therefore my cooking has to be within a time frame most often. I also have a room mate and between he and my son and friends when I do get home early I usually have 1 hrs notice to feed 6-10 people. So I just roll with it these days.

                                    I would love to try a few all day dishes but that won't happen for a while.

                                    However there are so many good recipes out there.

                                  2. re: donali

                                    I think your chicken soup would be profoundly delicious. You're using EXTRA bones and trimmings for your stock, which intensifies the chicken-y flavor tremendously. That puts you ahead of most chicken soups, right there.

                                    As for the celery bitterness, check out the posting I made about using sugar to counteract it. I wouldn't de-fat my soup entirely. Fat is a flavor-carrier, which is why people get so addicted to fatty foods. An absolutely no-fat soup has no flavor carrier, and you risk it having a flat, or blah, taste. So always leave SOME fat in your broth.

                                    I think your method of making chicken soup would probably hold up to the toughest food critic. Just don't spoil it by serving the soup with pieces of chicken that have bones in them. Always be sure your soup has no bones at all. Extract maximum flavor from them making the broth, then throw them out. Cut the chicken meat into tidy bite-sized pieces, too, for easier eating.

                                    Do you ever add things like dumplings, noodles or spaetzle? If you're already an old hand at those, use them, but for a special meal don't try them for the first time. For a special company meal, though, some people regard such things as too "plebian." Not rational, I know, but when are people always rational?

                                    To me, it's the deliciocity that matters. It's ALL that matters, in fact.

                                    Later, for a non-company meal, try adding some chopped spinach and/or cilantro (stems and all) to this - or any other kind of soup. The nutrition will soar, and they add a lovely flavor nuance that is delicious. Also serve any soup (even this one for company) with a wedge of lemon or lime on each plate. The person can then squeeze the fresh juice into their bowl - or not, as they choose. But they're cheating themselves of a delight, if they don't!

                                    You could consider adding small bowls of "toppers" the way they do with curry dishes. Offer your guests bowls of raw onion, tomato, small-chopped cabbage, sliced radishes, some pickled jalapeño peppers, croutons, etc. You may think up other things for yourself. Just offering the toppers makes the meal more special. But lots of people will delight in using them.

                                2. So much good advice, and so quickly! Thank you.

                                  If I plan on using feet, necks, and other small parts, do I even need to use a whole chicken also? I wasn't planning on serving the soup with chicken pieces in it -- would that have been the main reason for using a whole chicken rather than small parts, or is the whole chicken also essential for flavoring the soup?

                                  I hear you about not worrying too much about exactly which recipe. I'm less concerned about knowing what's perfect than in figuring out what's possible since I'm not sure how much time I'll have and how much else going on (I'm making seder for at least 25). Using small parts would be convenient since I imagine they take up less volume for a given amount of flavor than a whole chicken, and I'm hoping to be able to make enough soup for the crowd in one batch in my big lobster pot (though don't call it that on Passover!).

                                  Roasting the vegetables first was something I always did when making soup back in my vegetarian days. Roasting onions especially gave vegetable stock huge flavor rather than starting with raw onions.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: david kaplan

                                    You can make your stock with parts only. Most markets sell the chicken backs and they have a lot of meat still attached - enough to flavor your stock and make it nice and gelatinous.

                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                      Agree. The best stocks are made from chicken feet, neck and wings.

                                      1. re: alwayscooking

                                        Just found this thread. I started making stock a few years back and I use chicken necks/backs which results in a delicious and deeply flavorted stock. I am so glad that I discovered this manner of making the stock itself.

                                        Now, in terms of the cooked chicken in the soup itself, I am currently experimenting. I made a velvet lemon chicken soup last night (not with my own stock) and while cooking the chicken breasts IN the soup, I just wasn't wild about the process. Next time I will cook the chicken in a different manner (roast, or cook in milk a la Silver Palate at 350 for 40 minutes) and then add it to the stock later.

                                        This is a great recipe, by the way, for an unusual chicken soup --- it really IS velvety. I use fresh basil and I like to add shallots and mushrooms.


                                        1. re: twilight goddess

                                          Someplace, maybe on Chowhound, I read some people talking about simply poaching chicken breasts for use in salads and soup et cetera. The point was that if you over cook the breasts, they end up dry tasting. IIRC one person said to only poach them in the boiling poaching liquid for about twelve minutes. Another person said to bring the poaching liquid to a boil and then turn it off and leave the chicken breasts in the liquid for about twenty minutes. Since you're not using a whole chicken for your stock, this might suit you.

                                      2. re: david kaplan

                                        Small parts are generally good. But I'd leave out the tuchas (sp?)!

                                        Also, I really like your idea about roasting the onions first. I'm definitely going to do that the next time I make soup.

                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                          I should send you my recipe for a roasted veggie soup. Really good. all the veggies are roasted. It served over toasted baguettes with melted cheese and it is very thick, almost like a stew. Tomato and broth based and just really hearty with some cannellini beans. I'll have to fine it but pretty yummy!

                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                            That sounds wonderful. DO post your recipe, please.

                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                              This was sort of an accident that turned out great. My friend was leaving for a 3 week cruise and also happens to have a large garden. She used and picked all she could and then told a few friends to go over and pick what was left. So tons of veggies. This is very basic, but really flavorful. I would of served over polenta or rice, but was out so I used a nice thick baguette slice and topped with I think gruyere, but your favorite cheese will work and toasted it. I poured the soup/stew over it. I think I also topped with some fresh parsley and (I know this sounds wierd) but those Durkee onions used in green casserole. I wanted some crunch, so I put a few on top and they really were a nice touch. You can top just with anything, that is just what I did at the time and really liked it. Now remember, any veggies and your favorites will work for this.

                                              Well I picked up the rest at the market and made this:

                                              1 cup of carrots peeled and cut in bite size pieces
                                              1 cup parsnips peeled and cut in bite size pieces
                                              1 cup zuchinni cut in bite size pieces, I like to cut in 1/2" rounds
                                              1 summer squash, same as above
                                              1 cups mushrooms, cut in quarters
                                              1 large onion cut in half, then half again then then thick slices
                                              2 cups medium red potatoes cut in quarters
                                              1 small fennel bulb thin sliced
                                              5 cloves of garlic, not peeled
                                              1 small red pepper and green pepper
                                              1 cup of cubed butternut squash
                                              1-2 cans cennollini beans DO NOT drain or rinse
                                              5 plum tomatoes cut in half

                                              Soup Base: 3 cups vegetable stock; 4 tablespoons tomato paste depending on your taste; 1 cup white wine

                                              Marinade for the vegetables: Lots of olive oil; a dash of red pepper for a little heat; 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano chopped; 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped; 1 teaspoon fresh thyme; Salt and pepper to taste

                                              I like to prepare all the veggies and then lightly toss with the marinade. I just use a big 13x9 pan and cover and let set room temp for about 1 hour. Then pour on a sheet pan and bake at 400. The only thing is the tomatoes and zuchinni and summer squash will get done much quicker. So after 20 minutes I check. You do have to remove some of the veggies before others. Potatoes, butternut, parsnips and carrots obviously take longer so just keep roasting. I wish there was a set time but there isn't. I just check. You want them cooked but not all the way. Then I chop any large pieces into smaller pieces but it is a soup/stew, so don't worry about fine chopped. Now I heat in a large pot the broth, tomato paste and wine and heat up. At the veggies and let simmer for about 15 minutes, bringing to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. At this point I like to add any other fresh seasoning, fresh parsley, thyme or just salt and pepper, just taste. Grill the bread and then put the cheese on top and then melt, I like thick slices. Put the bread in the bowl and top with the soup/stew and top with my wierd durkee onions or you can use whatever.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                This sounds really good -- and easy! Can't wait to try it. Just one question -- why don't you rinse and drain the cannellini beans? That stuff in the can always looks so yucky.

                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  true and good point most times I do. I just lightly a little of the starch or the thickness and the cannollini "stuff" tastes better than most. By all means drain and rinse. I just didn't but I'm sure it will not hurt the dish in anyways. I don't mind not draining and rinsing, but that is just fine with me.

                                                  And yes, easy and yummy. I tried once adding a couple of cups of fresh arugula (or spinach) I used arugula right at the end before serving. Also very very tasty. Sorry I forgot to mention it.

                                                  And again, any of your favorite veggies, artichoke hearts would be great too. These just my favorites

                                                2. re: kchurchill5

                                                  Sounds great. As far as the beans go, sometimes I don't rinse I want a little more body in my dish.

                                                  One more question, though. As far as the unpeeled garlic goes, what happens to the skin? I've seen this in other recipes and wondered.


                                                  1. re: bear

                                                    Sorry ... after I roast I just "squish" out the garlic. It pops right out of the skin. It is a great way to make garlic. You can also toast in just a small saute pan (skin off) with olive oil too if you want. It gets toasty brown and yummy. Another easy way to make a toasted garlic, it is really good. You can also, buy jars of roasted minced garlic. I do keep it on hand but like making my own by far. But it is so small why not. Like the plastic lemon and lime. I hate to use them but for 1/2 teaspoon now and then for just me I don't mind. And easy. Roast a whole bulb (put in a piece of foil drizzle with olive oil and salt wrap and bake 45 minute at 350. Squish out the garlic and spread on toasted baguettes or fresh bread sticks as an appetizer. Amazing appetizer.

                                                    Beans, yeah, sometimes it just adds, sometimes I like a clean flavor and rinse. Either or.

                                                      1. re: bear

                                                        welcome, let us know the outcome.

                                          2. re: david kaplan

                                            i never use a whole chicken, because i don't like white meat. i use only thighs or legs for the meat component.

                                            1. re: david kaplan

                                              Ye gods! 25 people? You'll need a whole LOT of soup - and more than one very LARGE kettle, too! But I'm confused. It sounds like you wanted to make a chicken broth or consommé, rather than chicken soup. Chicken soup has meat in it. And, where most people are concerned, the more meat, the better the soup. I'd guess you'd need at LEAST five whole birds, and the bones and trimmings from five MORE birds. Plus the feet, and any necks, etc. that you mentioned. One bird should probably make good meaty chicken soup for five people, so you'd probably need five birds. Four might do fairly well, though, but no less. You could strip the skins off while still raw, chop them into small pieces and fry them very crisp, like pork rinds, in an unoiled frying pan. Pour off the fat as it accumulates, because it inhibits the crisping of the skins. Serve your soup with a BIG bowl full of these "chicken rinds" on the side, lightly salted, and watch them go in a hurry! They taste like fried chicken skins - and everybody loves those, don't they? I can promise you that just offering these, and other "toppers" will make it a memorable meal. And if the soup is particularly rich and chicken-y, you're likely to become a chicken soup legend.

                                              I'm a WEE bit late for this year's Seder dinner, but there's always next year!

                                              Boil up the number of chickens you need, disjointed (or as some suggest, roast or fry them first). Take out the chicken, debone it, chop the meat in bitesize pieces, and set them aside while you finish the broth. Bones and trimmings go in, and stay in, till your broth is rich and has extracted all the flavor it can. You can also add the aromatic veggies that are commonly used in making broth - use veggie trimmings (be sure to include some of the outer, papery, brownish skin from onions - it adds flavor and color), then throw them out along with the bones when your broth is done. Then chuck the bones and trimmings. You can strain the broth or not, but I'd recommend straining, even if you don't actually try to "clarify" the broth, because otherwise it may still hold some tiny unpleasant surprises, like a renegade sliver of bone or something. Use a fine mesh strainer. Chill it and de-fat it or not (but don't remove ALL fat). Then your broth is ready to make soup. Add the meat to the pot, along with your chosen veggies and simmer, VERY slowly, covered, for at least an hour - 2 is better. Only add seasonings about 1/2 hour before the cooking is done, or they can get flat tasting.

                                              Why not add BOTH roasted veggies and unroasted? Each offers its own unique flavor. Look for the posting where I talk about serving the soup with little bowls of "toppers" the way they do with curry dishes. The choices of veggies and seasonings are entirely up to you.

                                              What makes or breaks the chicken soup is the broth. Be sure it is the best you can make, made with MANY extra chicken bones than on the birds themselves. Good broth has a strong chicken-y flavor.

                                              One more thing. Serve every person with a wedge of lemon or lime. It is to be squeezed directly into the soup bowl. Nobody HAS to, but they're missing a real treat if they don't. I often throw the squeezed wedge into the bowl for a few minutes, to extract the volatile and aromatic oils from the skin - then fish it out and put it on a bread plate or something. And for salt-watchers, the soup would need much less salt, too.

                                              So don't salt your soup at ALL. Let people salt it to their preferences at the table. Just be sure to tell them that.

                                              I would suggest starting your soup at least a day early. Get your broth made to perfection, and chill the cut up meat. Also chill the broth. You can also pre-chop most veggies you'll put in the soup - except that onions might get less tasty if they have to sit for a day. Then, on the day of the dinner, bring your broth to a boil with the veggies. Reduce to a low simmer, add the meat, and cover. Let it simmer slowly for about 2 hours. Season it, then give it another half hour on the simmer. That's MUCH less work on the day of the dinner.

                                              With most of the arduous part of the preparation done a day ahead, you'll be less tired and better able to enjoy your OWN bowl of Seder chicken soup.

                                              You now have a year in which to practice this art. And with all the wonderful suggestions you can find on this URL, a year is enough time to perfect it.

                                            2. I add feet if I have them (I will buy a bunch, freeze them in the original meat trays, and then be occasionally very startled when I come across them in the freezer. ) I also tend to use a kosher chicken even though we're not kosher. I tend to saute lots of onions/celery/garlic/carrots first in a bit of oil, throw in a whole chicken and lots of water (more than to cover it), bring to a boil, and simmer it for about 4 hours. Feet too, if I have them. I skim if I'm in the mood. I got a tip a while ago to not add the dill to cook all the way throught, but to add it in one big bunch at the very end and cook it for only about 10 minutes. The chicken will have fallen apart. Oh, I add about 1 tablespoon white vinegar at the beginning to get the calcium out of the bones. When the soup's done, I pour it through a colander into another giant pot. When meat is cool enough to handle, I take it off the bones. I freeze the wonderful broth. I make curried chicken salad with the meat, with lots of celery and onion in that for the crunch.

                                              1. I use a whole roasted chicken from Costco with great success. Let it cool enough to tear apart into little pieces. To make a great quick soup base I simmer a yellow onion in a little evoo until it is translucent, add it to a cup or two of chicken broth in the blender. Blend it for about 30 seconds until it is free of chunks. Add this mixture to a pot of chicken stock with sliced carrots, celery, onion and your chicken chunks. Simmer for a few hours with a few bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add your choice of pasta.
                                                I really like the very small sea shells in my soup. Cook until the pasta is right.

                                                Give this one a try, the onion in the blender makes all the difference.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: imachimper

                                                  I use a Costco Rotissarie as well, but I cut off the breast meat. The breast meat is used for a different recipe. And then I add the whole chicken carcass into water, filling the pot almost to the top. To that I add, 2 whole carrots, 2 whole celery stalks, with leaves, 1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled, 1 whole large onion unpeeled, 2 bay leaves, 5 or 6 whole peppercorns and 1 tablespoon of salt. Let simmer for about an hour, let cool completely in the fridge. Skim the top, take out the chicken, strain the soup stock, toss the veggies. I then saute a couple of carrots, celery in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken stock, let simmer for 20 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Shred the chicken meat from the cooled rotisserie, add back to soup. Tast to adjust the seasoning. At the very end, I add cleaned, chopped escarole, cover and sit for 10 minutes. I cook up orzo, ladleful to thebottom of each bowl and add soup. A nice sprinkle of grated parm and it's heaven in a bowl. Well, thats what my family and friends say, lol.

                                                  1. re: imachimper

                                                    "To make a great quick soup base I simmer a yellow onion in a little evoo until it is translucent, add it to a cup or two of chicken broth in the blender." What a great trick! I can't wait to try it! Thanks.

                                                  2. I add a splash of apple juice (or cider). I got this tip from a Bon Appetit recipe I made years ago and have being doing it ever since. It adds dimension - a VERY subtle sweetness that is lovely.

                                                    I've wanted to try the chicken's feet for some time. i need to get on that.

                                                    1. I'm known for my chicken soup - it's definitely the garlic that makes it so popular

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Patrincia

                                                        i use garlic too. I like to saute fresh garlic at the start and layer in garlic powder towards the end for a more concentrated flavor.

                                                      2. Forgot to add that you should throw in parsnips!

                                                        1. One trick that I always use is to break the chicken bones in a few places. This will allow the marrow to come out into the soup and give a wonderful viscious quality to your broth. I imagine you will want to do a traditional version of the soup since it is a holiday, but if you are ever looking for a different twist here's a recipe for udon chicken soup that uses star anise, cardamom, and sichuan peppercorns to create a unique and fragrant broth.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Phoo_d

                                                            So do I. That gelatin comes from the marrow. You might as well give the water access to it.

                                                          2. A little lemon or lime juice brightens up the flavor

                                                            1. I always start with a carefully homemade concentrated clarified gelatinous stock (made with roasted bones, necks, and - very important - feet. After that its all easy: I make Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Appalachian, Mom's, Khmer, Peruvian, and Bolivian chicken soups. Clear unctuous rich stock is the key.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                You can never have too many feet in the stock, and if it makes a difference, be sure to get them from a kosher butcher.

                                                                1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                                  What's the difference between the chicken feet from a kosher butcher as opposed to the chicken feet from my local market or those from Chinatown?

                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                    For traditional religious practices, the manner of slaughter and the utensils used would matter as well as the health of the animal before it died... otherwise it's all chicken soup to me.

                                                                1. I add a little bit of curry powder to the soup. Not so much that it jumps right out at you, just enough to add warmth and depth to the broth. Please try it, just once! It's very good.

                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                  1. re: fern

                                                                    You know I hate curry ... but I hate a curry sauce. I can see where maybe just adding a little is almost like adding cumin. Same type of deep warm flavor. How much do you add for a big pot and do you alter any other seasoning.

                                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                      Hi kc,

                                                                      I wish I could tell you how much I add. I am one of those cooks that doesn't measure. I would say certainly no more than a teaspoon, probably less. You really don't want it to be in the foreground. I am anxious to hear if you try it, or the cumin as you mentioned. I do have an easy sort of Mexican chicken soup recipe that uses cumin. Probably nothing close to authentic, my purist friends. :)
                                                                      If you don't have one you use let me know and I'll post it.

                                                                      I have been enjoying reading your posts, by the way. You have more ideas than a cartoon light bulb.

                                                                      eta I've been thinking about it and believe even a tsp would be far too much. perhaps start with 1/3 tsp or so and see what you think. you can always add. i wish i measured!

                                                                      1. re: fern

                                                                        Thx, I try different things all the time. And I admit I am terrible ... I don't measure that much, but found I have to keep track. I love cumin and wish I like curry, I really do, I just don't like, but maybe in little doses. So many uses but I just can't.

                                                                        I am making the soup today. Day off because of weather so I am brining a turkey breast which I usually don't do and then smoking later today, adding a bunch of veggies in a citrus brine with peppercorns and juniper berries, also adding some shrimp (FL shrimp is cheap) so I am smoking 2 lbs. Making a smoked shrimp dip for my friends dinner I'm sort of catering or cooking for them tomorrow night. They are test subjects. Depending on what time everything is done I have a pork tenderloin and I'm brining that too, I may throw that on as well. Dinner tonight, left over turkey, left over pork roast and veggies and the rest won't last.

                                                                        But soup today, I am hoping to use a couple of the veggies in the soup, onions, tomatoes and maybe the peppers with the chicken and then a dash of cum. I will let you know tomorrow. I think it would even work without any smoked veggies, but I thought why not.

                                                                        Keep you posted. I'm actually gonna make a turkey panini with gouda, arugula and sliced apples for the sammy and a bowl of my chicken soup for dinner. And I'm sure the kitties will try some too as a treat :)

                                                                        Next time promise to try a dash of the curry.

                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                          My pork tenderloin turned out great too and I intend to make an asian inspired thick noodle soup. Not true to any recipe, but scallions, lots of flavored broth, soba noodles, some shitaki mushrooms and some of the pork. Not sure what it should be called. But a friend of mine made it and it was great although no recipe.

                                                                          Shrimp are perfect and that is for next week in a dip

                                                                          Turkey breast I brined and smoked and it was good but I still like my recipe better roasted. Not the smoking I did two, One in the oven and one smoked. Not worth the brining, but maybe just me. I do brine now and then and it is ok, but I still go back to just a plain recipe. The veggies on the smoker were great!!

                                                                          And a great addition to soup.

                                                                        2. re: fern

                                                                          Well I used my roasted chickens, used some fresh veggies, also used some smoked that I did today. Split in half. Added some curry, just a bit to the 1/2. Then cumin to the other.

                                                                          I have to admit the curry wasn't bad ... and the cumin was good too. But I started with a small amount. very small. And added a little at a time. Both I thought were very good additions. And yes, maybe I can eat curry after all, lol. Thanks for making me try it.

                                                                          I froze 6 containers, had one for dinner. Great soup and taking 2 to my friend and the rest for me. I love them for lunch or a quick dinner. But great lunches.

                                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                            Everything you made sounds great, now I have a taste for some Asian soup, too.

                                                                            I am SO glad you tried the curry powder, especially knowing that it's not a favorite flavor. Very small amts is the way to go. It's a nice way to change it up. I promise to try cumin in my regular chicken soup sometime.

                                                                            Oooh, if you DO develop a taste for curry powder, I use a honey baked chicken recipe from the More with Less Cookbook that is fantastic. Honey, melted butter, mustard, curry powder and salt blended and poured over chicken pieces and baked. Baste as often as you think of it. Let it brown up and get a little bit sticky. Serve with rice that you scoop some of the pan liquids onto and love it.

                                                                            I am not cooking today but will have to make some Asian-inspired soup soon. I get lots of food cravings but Asian food cravings never go away until I satisfy them. That's the only one that just doesn't pass eventually.

                                                                            1. re: fern

                                                                              Sounds yummy, yeah, maybe a little at a time is the way to go. I love the smell which is funny ... but most I had was always so strong, so this was much better using just a small amount. Thx

                                                                            2. re: kchurchill5

                                                                              One thing about curry powder that may have something to do with why you don't like it all that much. Don't buy the prepared stuff. "Curry" is something you make up by buying different spices and putting them together in the proportions you like.

                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                Interesting and yes, always just bought it since when I had it I wasn't fond of it I only bought one small jar once just to try on my own. Nice idea. I would love to enjoy it. Some many great dishes.

                                                                      2. A lot of the flavor of my soup comes from vegetables. I use onions, garlic, carrots, celery (sometimes celery root) and parsnips, sometimes ginger also. I throw in parsley stalks. Then I take out the vegetables and puree them with some of the broth, adding them back to the soup. It's not a clear broth; it's hearty and colorful and looks like (but tastes better) than the one my mom used to make.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                          Well first you have to have a "soup chicken" or "fowl". In NYC you can pick one up at Citarella. I think it's an older chicken because the meat is sort of firmer than regular roasters.
                                                                          They are also cheaper than roasters or broilers. If you can't get a proper chicken, about 5 pounds of wings would be a good substitute. And skim off the scum as it starts to boil. Add
                                                                          carrots, parsnips, onion, leeks, parsley and dill and cook till meat is soft. For a soup chicken this will take longer than a regular broiler (remember these are tough old hens), about 2 hours. Strain out the stock, refrigerate overnight. Remove the fat on top. Now you have soup worthy of a Jewish grandmother.

                                                                          1. re: meinNYC

                                                                            I agree with the wings, I really love the chicken broth made with wings. Full of flavor, and straining the broth, I went a little crazy last time with my stock getting it "clean" and i think it was some of the best stock I'd made,well that and because I I used a roasted carcass that I'd cooked until it was unrecognizable.

                                                                          2. re: chicgail


                                                                            I just read this trick above too, pureeing some of the veggies (shallots would be yummy, no?) with the broth and throwing back in the pot. Can't wait to try it!

                                                                          3. A few tips:

                                                                            Use one whole cut up chicken plus extra backs and necks.

                                                                            Go low and slow - do not boil!

                                                                            Lots of good veg. I use carrot, onion, celery (stalks and leaves), celery root, parsnip, one apple and a little garlic.

                                                                            Remember to utilize your herb stems - thyme, parsley, and just a little sage or dill.

                                                                            Spices like cinnamon and star anise add wonderful flavor to your stock for another occasion - you wouldn't want them for Passover.

                                                                            Please don't add some sort of evil powder or shortcut paste.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Kater

                                                                              I have always thought the same as you about "evil powder or shortcut paste." But I have recently read a couple of things:

                                                                              In the book “Sicilian Home Cooking” the authors express their surprise at finding out that bouillon cubes are scorned by serious cooks in America. They further state that they are used by all serious Italian home cooks.

                                                                              In the book “New England Soup Factory Cookbook” the author has a chicken stock recipe for 12 cups and includes 4 bouillon cubes.

                                                                              I might consider changing my mind, but when I made stock yesterday, I used no "evil powder or shortcut paste."

                                                                            2. I actually switch pots once the chicken has been simmering for a couple of hours or so. It seems to be the only way that I can get rid of the scum that sticks to the side. I simply remove the chicken, set it on a plate, and strain the broth into the pot I am going to finish the soup in. At that point I will add vegetables, but I am careful to tie parsely and only add dill for matzoh ball soup. I remove the meat from the bones of the chicken once it is cool enough to handle, and return the meat to the pot. My family prefers a soup with veggies and meat in it, not clear broth, so this works for me. If making a clear broth, I will add the veggies to the original pot, and when ready to transfer after a few hours, remove the carrots, celery, chicken etc., and then strain into the finishing pot. It is into that pot that I will add thin egg noodles and matzoh balls, if that is what I am serving.

                                                                              1. Chicken Soup

                                                                                Serves: 6
                                                                                Chicken soup may contain substances with beneficial activity including an anti-inflammatory effect that could ease the symptoms of colds and other upper respiratory infections. Because of its healing power for respiratory illnesses like the common cold chicken soup has been called "Jewish penicillin”. .

                                                                                Ingredients: Chicken Broth

                                                                                • 1 4 pound chicken, rinsed
                                                                                • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
                                                                                • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
                                                                                • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley leaves, stems reserved
                                                                                • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
                                                                                • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
                                                                                • 2 dried bay leaves
                                                                                • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, ground
                                                                                • ¼ teaspoon dried whole rosemary, ground
                                                                                • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
                                                                                • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
                                                                                • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
                                                                                • 6-8 cups water, to cover

                                                                                Ingredients: Vegetables

                                                                                • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
                                                                                • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
                                                                                • 1 cup parsnips, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
                                                                                • 1 cup celery, sliced ¼ inch thick

                                                                                Method: Method: Chicken Broth

                                                                                1. Place chicken in a large black cast iron pot breast-side down.
                                                                                celery, parsley stems, salt, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, cayenne, white and black pepper.
                                                                                3. Cover with water by at least two inches
                                                                                4. Bring the water slowly to a boil over high heat
                                                                                Note: You don’t want the stock to boil rapidly or the soup will turn out murky and cloudy. _____________________________________________________________________

                                                                                5. Adjust the heat so that a slow, lazy simmer is established.
                                                                                6. Skim any foam that rises to the top and discard.
                                                                                7. Cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 2 hours.
                                                                                8. When chicken is tender, remove the chicken and let rest until cool enough to handle.
                                                                                9. Skin and bone chicken, leaving the meat in large chunks; set aside.
                                                                                10. Discard the skin and bones.
                                                                                11. Strain the broth through a colander or chinoise.
                                                                                12. Discard the solids.
                                                                                13. Skim as much fat as possible from the surface of the broth.

                                                                                Method: Soup Vegetables

                                                                                1. Add the onions, carrots, parsnips and celery.
                                                                                2. Continue to simmer until the broth is fully flavored and the vegetables crisp tender, about 45 minutes.
                                                                                3. Remove bay leaves and parsley stems from the broth, and discard.
                                                                                4. Add reserved chicken.
                                                                                5. Heat through then ladle into a bowl.
                                                                                6. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.
                                                                                Note: For chicken noodle soup, bring soup to a gentle boil; add cooked pasta noodles. For chicken rice soup, substitute cooked long-grain rice for the noodles. Simmer until heated through.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: speyerer

                                                                                  THAT IS CHICKEN SOUP!!!!!!!
                                                                                  I make one almost exactly identical to it that was my mom's recipe. My kids call it Magic Soup, because it will cure pretty much anything.

                                                                                2. My 'secret' is simple...never pay money for chicken stock ingredients.

                                                                                  I always keep a bucket of bones in my freezer - and i make stock using those bones and veggies that might otherwise perish. I don't care if other methods make better stock - i think this is the only way to make stock that for me is keeping with its spirit.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                    As John and Karen Hess wrote in their book, The Taste of America, the joke about the Hungarian recipe that begins, "First you steal a chicken . . ."

                                                                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                      Whenever anyone in the extended family has a bird carcass leftover after a meal, my mother-in-law takes the entire skelton and puts it in a bag, then steps on it to compress it, and stashes it in her freezer for reincarnation as stock.

                                                                                    2. season it with smoked salt

                                                                                      1. I use dark meat only, but my big secret is starting with Stouffer's low salt chicken stock instead of water. It gives a nice concentrated chicken flavor to the stock when one starts with stock :)

                                                                                        1. I throw in a lot of chicken, beef, meat bones, chicken bones, and let it cook for hours. I throw an onion - whole, unpeeled - into a cheesecloth with parsley and dill - the onion skin gives the soup a really lovely color (only truly useful tip I've ever picked up from Food Network).

                                                                                          1. Smoke the bone and the flavor will be incredible

                                                                                            1. You could make a good chicken stock with bones and meat no salt. then augment the stock with Better Than Bouillon anyway then you couldn't help but have a great soup.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                I do the same sometime but use Vegata bouillon....Works great...

                                                                                                1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                  As some above have mentioned, a rely flavorful soup starts with good stock. Every month or so I make a large pot of chicken stock using bones, wings and necks that I've accumulated, or which I buy very cheaply from a local butcher. I then freeze the stock in quart jars (and a few smaller jars to use in sauces). This becomes the base for many soups, including chicken soup. I then add a large soup chicken and vegetables, using lots of root vegeatables and, especially, leeks and garlic. Using this method you only have to boil the soup (at a slow boil) for about an hour. This also leaves the chicken with some nutritional value. I break some of the chicken into small pieces and return it to the soup. The rest can be used for other stuff, like chicken salad. Another thing I do is to reserve some of the vegetables to add during the last 20 minutes or so. They have a much better consistency in the finished soup when you serve it than the vegetables you put in at the beginning. Using stock as a soup base has allowed me to avoid using soup powder or bullion to get more flavor in the soup.

                                                                                              2. Can anyone tell me where to buy the tiny chicken yolks that haven't yet developed a shell & is not fertilized.

                                                                                                50-55 years ago I used to find these, along with chicken feet added to chicken soup---I would give anything to enjoy these little delicacies once more before I die. Please contact me at the a o l server, I'm evets3000 there. THANK YOU!!