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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:

          Stock:
          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.