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AWFUL Vegetable Soup -- Help

Without a recipe (how hard could it be to make vegetable soup), I proceeded to try and make my grandmother's vegetable soup. She's not around to ask for help anymore, so I just did the best I could. Bought string beans, carrots, onions, lima beans, san marzano tomatoes, corn, peas, cabbage, and used two large chickens (to make the broth, not to use the meat.)

Simmered the chickens in water to cover, midway chopped them up a bit to get more of the flavor out, then strained the broth and defatted it. Sauteed one huge onion till translucent, added the veggies to the broth to cook, in order of how long they needed to cook to be soft. Added some salt and pepper to taste. UGH. No flavor. I never get enough chicken flavor for the broth, but thought with TWO chickens it would work out.

Should I just buy canned chicken broth? Use boullion cubes :( which I really don't want to use. I will never make vegetable soup again unless I figure this out first. Maybe I should have roasted the bones first? Help.

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  1. How long did you simmer the chicken? The longer, the more flavorful. Three hours wouldn't be too long really, especially with raw chicken. Maybe you just need some more salt, more than you think, a lot of times that takes care of it. Plus with veg soup, you really need some herbs: parsley, dill, sage, thyme etc. Also, no garlic? I like a decent amount of garlic cooked in with the onions, and also some grated fresh ginger.

    4 Replies
    1. re: coll

      I season my broth really well for soup, then add more garlic and thyme to the soup.
      I make my grandmother's recipe too; don't saute anything. It's always good, but it has to be well-seasoned.

      1. re: bayoucook

        I always just put all the veggies in raw too, to tell the truth.

      2. re: coll

        Forgot--yes I added three big cloves of garlic, but not more because I didn't want garlic soup, and I didn't have fresh ginger so added a little powdered (which was freshly bought) and I sauteed the ginger with the onion to bring out the flavor. I think I didn't cook the broth enough. Thanks, I think that was it. Plus I could have added some herbs, but I like the fresh vegetable taste rather than a lot of herbs, so would go light on that. I don't know if I have the courage to make the soup again. A lot of work for some greasy, watery tasting soup.

        1. re: Virginia Girl

          Next time try using a stewing hen, instead of chicken. Hens are older and more flavorful birds. You can also throw in a hunk of pork loin w/bone (e.g. pork chop) and simmer for at least three hrs. I use this combination as a basis for many soups and it always yields a nice, deep broth. You can even use the meat afterwards.

      3. Brown the chopped up veggies before adding them to the stock. Particularly the onlion - though not too dark. And add garlic and gresh herbs - a bouquet garnis if you don't want to leave the herbs in.
        Personally I'd leave out the chicken, but that's just my taste.

        1. As I was reading this I was thinking along the exact same lines as coll. Where's the garlic? And herbs are your friends, especially the ubiquitous bay leaf.

          That being said, there are several other things you could do to tweak your soup. You could add some drops of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or a squirt of anchovy paste. Sometimes a bit of vinegar is what you need. Sometimes a bit of sugar.

          1 Reply
          1. re: clamscasino

            How did I forget bay leaves! At least 2 of them.

          2. If you didn't toss the bones yet, roast them until well browned, strain off some of your soup liquid and recook, extracting as much flavor as you can. Even add the chicken back as well. Also, I always saute the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. That way they don't taste boiled and watery. I think even your cabbage could benefit from sauteeing.

            Agree with the need to season. Instead of salt, I often use Better than Bouillon or More than Gourmet soup bases (thick paste). Each is quite salty but very flavorful, and much better than bouillon cubes in an emergency.

            1. Try roasting one of those chickens and adding the carcass bones to the rest of the simmering broth ( I don't know what you plan to do with the meat but you've got a base for another meal right there anyway). I make chicken stock out of leftover rotisserie chicken bones all the time and I know one key is a long simmering time to bring out the chicken flavor. My own personal tip would be to try to break or chop some of the larger chicken bones in half to bring out the geletin in the marrow for more flavor and body. If you like using uncooked chicken in your broth, perhaps a more intensely flavored part of the chicken could be used-like the chicken thigh. Or, for that matter, chopping the chicken up so that more meat is exposed if you used whole chickens. Sometimes, I clarify the chicken stock I make, which is is basically adding ground chicken meat and egg whites to the simmering liquid until the solids float to the top in a "raft" which is removed and then the strained broth becomes so much more chickeny and so clear and beautiful, like old-fashioned chicken soup.