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Poll: How do you make chicken soup?

We all know how to make chicken soup.

What I want to know is how YOU make your chicken soup.

As I see it, there are essentially two basic, fundamental approaches:

1. The "Chicken Stock" method: Start with chicken stock, then add the other ingredients such as additional water, seasonings, vegetables, chicken meat, noodles, etc.

2. The "Whole Chicken" method. Start with a whole raw chicken, and cook it with the other ingredients such as water, seasonings, vegetables, noodles, etc.

Of course there are countless variations on each of the above two mentioned methods, but I think those are the two basic, fundamental approaches to making homemade chicken soup, right?

So, that being said, which method do you use and why?

Me, personally, I favor Method 2, or the "Whole Chicken" method.

Why? To me, cooking the raw chicken (with bones and meat all together) along with everything else, including the seasonings -- usu. for me it's salt, pepper, ginger, green onions, red dates, tangerine peel, gingseng, lady bell root, etc. -- allows for the chicken meat and bones to soak up the seasonings during the cooking process. The flavors all meld together to create a unique taste, and in many ways a different "chicken taste" if there's such a thing.

Using chicken stock as your starting point, on the other hand, creates sort of a flat taste. The chicken stock's taste is already set, no doubt from hours and hours at a low long simmer in your stockpot. Sure, you can add seasonings, but they just tend to -- for lack of a better word -- add to the chicken stock's original flavor. Nothing new is created.

I am not trying to stir up a debate as to the best method for making chicken soup, and I am by no means an expert on the subject -- although I do know what I like and how to make what I like.

I am just curious as to how you do it, and why.

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  1. Whole chicken with big pieces of celery (including leaves), carrots, an onion halved, two or three cloves, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, fresh parsley and thyme. Start everything in cold water, bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, skim off scum, then cook for a long time.

    Remove chicken and veggies, then strain. The vegetables have no flavor left, so if I want to serve some with the soup, I cut up new ones and cook in the broth or separately.

    That's the how; the why is this is similar to the way my mother makes it, except that she does not put in cloves, parsley or thyme, does not strain the broth and serves the used up veggies.

    2 Replies
    1. re: susans

      I start much as everyone else with cut up chicken and large pieces of onion carrot and celery cut from the whole stalk so that I get leaves and heart.. I allow this to simmer just untl the meat will pull from the bones. I remove the meat and debone it and return the bones to the pot to continue simmering and set the meat aside. Next I dice onions,carrots, celery, some green pepper and several mushrooms to total about 6 cups.
      SinceI cook for just two I plan to can must of this in pint jars. I cut the meat into spoon size and wilt the veggies with some of the stock, Just a couple of ladles. I skim the fat with my ladle and save that for making biscuits. I fill my jars will about a half to two thirds cup veggies and as much chicken and then fill the jars with stock leaving a generous inch of head space. The jars get process in a pressure cooker according to approved practice.
      The balance of the meat and veggies get combined with some of the stock and a generous handful of noodles is added. Seasoning as we like for that meal. Salt and black pepper of course sometimes rice instead of noodles sometimes diced sweet potato. I call it chicken soup starter.

      1. re: ssor

        OH, WAIT!! Splain about that chicken fat in the biscuits. Also, do you use it to make dumplings for the chicken soup?

    2. I do it the second method.

      4-5 chicken legs with back, a carrot, roughly chopped, bunch of celery with leaves, an onion, halved, two bay leaves, a couple slices of ginger, and a splash of shaoxing wine.

      Cook on med for 8-10 hours, adding water continuously.

      Then strain everything, toss it out, reserving liquid.

      Reduce to 1/3 volume

      1. Brown onions, leeks, garlic, and shallot in the soup pot in some olive oil. Hope you didn't add too much garlic.
        Consider adding a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Reconsider, then add just a little.
        Add a cut up whole chicken( a stewing hen is best, you can also add a few extra chicken wings), then cover with cold water.
        Bring to a boil, turn down heat, skim scum, simmer for at least 3 hours, or until the cartilage becomes loose from the bones (an alternative is to put the pot in the oven at 200 degrees overnight which works well, but requires a few nervous moments in the morning when you wake up and realize your oven has been on all night and you have no idea what the soup will look like inside).
        Remove chicken.
        Add celery, parsnip, carrot, a very small piece of ginger, whole peppercorns, bay leaf, sage, thyme, and parsley. Taste a few dozen times to make sure you can't pick out the ginger flavor. Get scared that there is too much ginger and attempt to fish it out of the pot. Burn your left thumb (you are left-handed). Decide there isn't too much ginger and leave it in the pot.
        Cook for another hour or two. 45 min or so before finishing, add the rind from a piece of Parmesan (adding it any earlier can make the broth overly salty). Taste a few more dozen times to make sure the broth isn't too salty. Put a ladle-full in a mug and enjoy while waiting for the broth to be "finished."
        Strain. Skim off fat and save for other uses or leave it congealed in a glass in the back of your refrigerator until you move out of your apartment and have to clean out the kitchen.
        Sift through the soup detritus for the parmesan rind and eat while still soft and spongy. Feel slightly odd about eating the rind, but reassure yourself it probably won't kill you.
        Add back the now cut up chicken meat and carrots. If you are serving the soup to company, consider adding fresh carrots and cooking a fresh chicken breast in the stock so it looks pretty.
        Add noodles or matzo balls.
        Serve with freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh parsley, and grated parm.

        This is not at all how my mom does it - she has much more confidence with her soup-making skills. This is a mish-mosh of many different recipes learned over the years. I know its good if it wiggles like a bowl of jell-o after i refrigerate it. I never start with any liquid but water. To use anything else would be cheating, right?

        1 Reply
        1. I prefer #1 method to #2.
          Using the whole chicken the meat may absorb the flavors and seasoning, but the meat itself has been exhausted of it's flavor which has gone into the soup. You bite into a piece of that chicken and you get the flavorings of the soup, but the original flavor of the chicken has been lost.
          I'd like to say I can almost tell when a home made chicken soup has been made using method #2.

          #1 (my method)
          I wouldn't normally use a whole fresh chicken to make chicken soup. Usually the chicken is leftover from something like a roasted chicken. Strip the chicken of the meat, then make the stock with the carcass and bones. Dice up the leftover cooked chicken meat and add it to the finished stock to just heat it up.

          #1 Method=You bite into a piece of chicken(w/no soup), it's going to taste like a piece of chicken and the flavor of the stock.

          #2 Method=You bite into just a piece of chicken and it tastes like nothing except for the flavor of the soup.

          24 Replies
          1. re: monku

            I never eat the chicken meat when I make chicken soup ... I think it must be more of a Chinese (or Chinese mom) thing, than anything else.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              You didn't mention Chinese style. Then maybe I'd considerethod #2.
              I was figuring chicken noodle soup or matzo ball soup.

              1. re: monku

                Do you think there really is a difference between eastern and western versions of how chicken soup is made? If there is, I wonder why ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Yeah, I think so. The Chinese soups I make (I'm Chinese) focuses more on the soup liquid itself, and less on what's in the soup. In the soups I've made elsewhere, it's a lot about what's in the soup, as well as the broth.

                  e.g Chicken and tender veggies in chicken noodle soup, freshly roasted garlic in cream of garlic, etc...

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I'm making chicken soup to use say for won ton soup, I'm only going to use chicken, water and soy sauce. If I were going to make chicken soup for say kreplach soup(Jewish won ton soup), then I'd use the standard mirapoix and salt and pepper.
                    Maybe eastern tastes don't want a complexity of flavors or those western ingredient weren't readily available, so their taste for chicken soup remained the same.

                    1. re: monku

                      But you can use the chicken meat as a filling for any kind of stuffed pasta or dumpling such as wonton, ravioli, or tortollini. Also it can be used to make chicken meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup.

                      1. re: yayadave

                        If you're talking about using the chicken meat that's been simmering to make stock, it doesn't taste like anything...it's been exhausted of all flavor and fat. It's like eating cardboard.

                        1. re: monku

                          I've heard people say this before, but never understand it - maybe we're making stock differently. In fact, probably we're making stock differently, because I just throw a whole chicken into my slow cooker for anywhere from 8-10 hours, whichever is more convenient. At that point, the meat is still fine for any application where it doesn't have to stand on its own: chicken salad, casserole, chicken pot pie, etc. Better than roasting a chicken specifically for that purpose? Probably not, but less wasteful.

                          In response to the OP: I use the first method, because I usually have homemade stock on hand, and using stock and adding whatever is faster than starting from scratch. Normally if I'm making chicken soup, it's because somebody is sick, which means I'm operating under a pretty severe energy deficit. (I have learned to take the time to cook the noodles separately, though.)

                          1. re: darklyglimmer

                            I think some people might just have different tolerances for boiled chicken meat.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Yeah, that's why I poach my chicken and then remove it. Stringy is never good when it comes to chicken.

                              1. re: chowser

                                How can it not be stringy and tasteless of you boil it to death?

                                1. re: monku

                                  Who me? I said I poach it because I'm picky and don't like it stringy.

                                  I poach my chicken (thighs usually) about 25 minutes, at most, until they're just barely cooked through. I remove the meat, toss the bones, plus any frozen treasures I have, or chicken neck, wings, roasted veggies back into the poaching liquid and finish making stock. At that point, if I want chicken soup, I add the chicken back in. If not, I have great poached chicken.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I'm agreeing with you.
                                    Poach the chicken....then bones, carcass etc. to make stock.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      >How can it not be stringy and tasteless of you boil it to death?

                                      Don't know about you, Monku, but my chicken is dead when I start. Less splashing that way. ;)

                                      Maybe it's the method. The slow cooker doesn't exactly boil the meat, just brings it to a very gentle simmer over a long period of time - even at the the end, I only see small bubbles breaking the surface eventually. But hey, maybe Ipse is right: different strokes, different folks.

                                      1. re: darklyglimmer

                                        I often make slow cooker chicken or turkey stock, usually over night when I want to cool and store in the fridge to collect the top layer of fat when making soup or a sauce for dinner. The result is perfect.

                                        My latest stock was made after roasting chicken or turkey pieces in the oven a la Michael Ruhlman's method for making gravy.


                                        1. re: Gio

                                          AFter you mentioned this on another thread, I bought some turkey legs and wings for just this purpose. Sitting in the freezer til after the new year.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Turkey necks work great, too, and are much cheaper but harder to find.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Thanks. I've been having great luck at a Latino market since they seem to mostly start with the whole animal(s). Will check it out. Once the freezer isn't quite so full :)

                                          2. re: Gio

                                            That's how I made the stock for my Thanksgiving gravy, only I roasted the vegetables, too, and scraped everything into the pot to simmer.

                                            For the gravy, I make it, very close to that, only left it on the thin side. When the turkey came out of the oven, I scraped the pan w/ dripping into a saucier, added flour and the thin gravy, cooked until thickened. It was so easy and great w/ all the scrapings. The scrapings are where the flavor is.

                                          3. re: darklyglimmer

                                            Cooking in a slow cooker isn't the same as making stock in a stock pot with several quarts of water which will over a couple hours "exhaust" the meat of the chicken of all flavor and fat. Try it.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      I use the chicken meat to make my husband's beloved chicken croquets.

                      1. re: silkenpaw

                        You must put ALOT of seasonings and things in them to make up for the lack of chicken taste.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          "... make up for the lack of chicken taste."

                          Is that to suggest that there is "chicken taste" to begin with? :-)

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            There must be because everything taste like it.;-)

                  2. It depends on what I have but if I wanted chicken soup, I'd:

                    1) poach thighs in seasoned water
                    2) remove thighs, debone, put bones back into water
                    3) add neck, wings, whatever parts I might have w/ collagen into water, and any additional seasoning/vegetables/spices and make stock
                    4) Add chicken from step 2 back in and whatever else I want in soup

                    I start w/ thighs because they're easier/faster to poach than whole chicken and the dark meats works best for repeated reheatings which I do.

                    1. I cook the veggies in a tiny bit of oil first, then add the stock/boullion, then chicken and herbs/seasoning before bringing to boil.simmer. Not sure why I do it this way... I honestly don't remember using a recipe the first time I made it, but it was probably just an amalgamation of all the various chicken soup recipes I've read/seen on TV at that point, and I just stuck with it because it worked for me.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: yfunk3

                        I do chicken soup the way I do it simply because that's how mom made it.

                        I seriously think that may be true for alot of us who don't follow a "recipe".

                        1. re: yfunk3

                          I do it that way, and I know why. I cannot stand the taste of onion that has simply been cooked in liquid without being sweated in oil first. It doesn't matter how long the onion cooks in the broth. If it hasn't been cooked in a little oil or butter first, I can taste it and it really unbalances the soup for me.

                          1. re: Isolda

                            You do have a point. I think it's the same thing for the celery. It can overpower the other flavors, unless you boil your soup for so long that the vegetables (and everything else) are super mushy and the flavor has gone out of everything.

                        2. Rough chop onion, celery, carrot, and parsnip. Put them in the pressure cooker. It might be better if I softened them in oil, but I don't. Add a chicken, some peppercorns, bay leaf, and water.
                          Cook under pressure for a half hour.
                          Release the pressure. Take out the chicken and get all of the meat off and put it aside. (1) Then put everything that is not chicken meat back in the pressure cooker and cook under pressure for another half hour. (2) Let the pressure drop by itself.
                          Strain the broth, clean the pot, and put the broth back in the pot. Cover and put it on the back porch overnight or until the fat comes to the top and solidifies.
                          When it’s time for soup, bring it in and pick/spoon off that white/yellow fat, and NOT that layer of wonderful gelatin just under the fat.
                          Add fresh diced onion, celery, and carrot to the pot of broth and cook till they soften. Add salt to taste. I don’t use much salt.
                          Cook the noodles separately. (3)
                          Chop the reserved chicken meat into what you think are soup-sized pieces.
                          When it’s time for soup, we put the broth, noodles, and chicken together. I like to store them in the ‘fridge separately, too. (4)

                          (1) The meat is cooked. I don’t want it to turn into rubber.
                          (2) On the other hand, may as well get all the good out of the carcass and veggies.
                          (3) If I cook them in the broth, the noodles absorb all the broth and I end up with chicken stew in stead of chicken soup.
                          (4) Store the noodles separately for the same reason.

                          I'm not saying this is the best way or the only way, It's just what I do. Oh, yeah, my wife does it some other way. We eat that, too.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yayadave

                            The pressure cooker softens vegetables like onions quite effectively. So the sweating in fat is not as necessary as when just simmering.

                          2. I am a combination of methods.

                            for one, anytime i make a whole chicken, I either butterfly it and reserve the back for stock, or i keep the roasted carcass for stock. in any case, i make stock, and stick it in the freezer.

                            the stock will always involve parts of the carcass, an onion, a couple of carrots, a handful of garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt. i'll also add in veggie trimmings from whatever has been prepped: potato skins, mushroom stalks, gignger peels, parsley stalks, lemon peel, etc.

                            for the actual soup, i usually have some leftover chicken that i want to use up, and that's the chicken that goes in. i usually sautee my veggies a bit first, and sautee the noodles too if they're going in (to keep them from bloating from here to kingdom come), then add the stock and adjust the seasoning. i usually finish off chicken soup with a bit of fresh lemon juice, as my grandmother always did.

                            another think i like to reserve specifically for chicken soup is fresh pasta cuttings. especially the big misshapen floppy cuttings from lasagna. there's something about those fleshy noodle pieces....

                            1. Well, in recent years, I've moved away from the whole raw chicken in water w/aromatics and veggies, b/c for two people, it's just too much of a hassle.

                              The few times I make it (albeit chicken noodle soup), it's usually b/c one of us has a cold, and my cheating ways are as follows:

                              chicken broth
                              chicken thighs
                              carrots, celeriac, leeks, onion, bay leaf, s&p

                              Cook the thighs in the broth at a low simmer along with the veggies. Toss out celeriac, b/c I hate it. Take meat off of thighs when done, throw back in soup.

                              Serve over extra broad egg noodles. Yep, lots of shortcuts, but always delicious. And the thighs (bone-in, of course) add some extra flavor to the broth without drying out. Close 'nuff to the real thing for me.

                              1. My chicken soup is my mother's method, basically similar to the second method you describe: raw whole chicken, water, chopped carrot, celery, onion, S & P. Simmered till chicken is cooked. Stock and veggies removed from pot, cooled then refrigerated. Meat taken off the bones, cooled, then into the fridge.
                                Next day fat is removed (al la yayadave) meat is added back as are the veggies, taste for seasoning, bring to simmer. Meanwhile steam long grained rice. When rice is cooked it too is added to the soup. Sometimes freshly grated Pecorino Romano is added to each serving. Sometimes freshly baked Scali is along side.
                                (A tossed salad completes the meal.)

                                1. What's the difference if you add seasonings to a pot of water with a whole chicken in it or if you add seasonings to a pot of chicken parts? Both of them are flavored water. I don't see a big difference except that in the first method more flavor will be added to the water because there are extra steps to the process and the chicken meat added to the final product hasn't had most of the flavor leached out of it.

                                  1. #2 all the way.

                                    Chicken in cold water. Heat water. Cook for about an hour (depends on size), skimming all the way. Add vegetables and dry herbs. Cook until tender. Add fresh herbs, if any. If pasta or grain is being used, make separately. Serve with sea salt, parmesan and olive oil.

                                    1. I have to make my stock before I can make my soup. For me, it's a seperate process.
                                      Once I have stock (generally chicken) I will dice onions and/or leeks, and cut up my other aromatics and veg. I start by sauteeing the onion/carrot/celery base, add a couple arbol chiles, a bay leaf, some s&p, maybe a little garlic after a few minutes, but not always. Maybe thyme.
                                      Then I start adding in my other veg, and saute these a bit as well. I typically like to add cabbage or chopped kale, maybe a parsnip or celery root and definitely a cheese rind if I have one laying around.
                                      Once things get a bit of heat on them I pour in my stock, bring to an almost boil and re-season.
                                      If I'm using things like green beans or peas, I add these now so they'll keep their color (at least for my first bowl).
                                      Anything starchy gets cooked seperately and added now as well. Farro, brown rice, acini di pepi all make frequent qppearances in my soup.
                                      I don't usually save the meat from my stock making for the soup. If I remember to rescue the chicken breasts before they get overcooked they are usually made into chicken salad. If I want meat in my soup I will roast a couple of boneless, skin-on thighs, then cube these up and pitch into the pot last thing.
                                      I eat a lot of soup, and got a chest freezer so I could store stock to my hearts content.
                                      I think I'll go make some now.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: rabaja

                                        I'm with you, the stock is a whole different process. The reason why is because from that stock I can make, chicken soup, Matzo Ball Soup, WonTon soup, Albondigas, and the list goes on and on. Pretty much I can make any soup concoction that suits me. Make a good chicken stock and you'll be delighted with your soups.

                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                          Exactly. I'm glad to see someone(s) finally mention this.

                                        2. re: rabaja

                                          We have an upright freezer and right now it has at least 30 to 40 liters of stock of various kinds waiting to be made into soup, sauces, etc. From Thanksgiving we made about 10 liters of turkey stock (two large turkey carcasses) 5 liters of ham stock. The stock is frozen in .5 liters water bottles upright and then after frozen stacked on their side on a shelf in the freezer. It's best to keep track of how much of what kind is in there so it's easier to find what your looking for. To thaw the stock we just put however many bottles we'll need into an ice cream bucket and fill it with hot tap water. Change the water a few times and it's thawed in a couple hours (or less).

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            Now that is a lot of stock. I'm happy when I have four or five quarts waiting for me!
                                            I store mine in ziploc quart containers (not bags), but lately have been wanting smaller portions available for sauces or mini-meals, so I'll be doing that in the near future too.
                                            Do you ever worry about the chemicals that leach out of the water bottles?
                                            I know you're not supposed to re-use water bottles too many times, and I think running hot water over them might exacerbate the problem.
                                            Just a question, not trying to stir the pot...
                                            When I want to freeze larger amounts, I use plastic containers I get from my local restaurant supply store. The plastic is heavier and the lids are nice and tight.
                                            It's grey and rainy today, good day for a stock project.

                                              1. re: rabaja

                                                The Snopes listing above explains the fallacy about plastic bottles. We don't microwave the bottles and hot tap water won't cause any plastic to leach. The cold temperatures actually has the opposite effect. The recommendation about not reusing plastic water bottles is really about refilling them with water and drinking from them over and over. That practice does cause bacteria to grow but it's not really about the plastic.

                                                Using the empty bottles in the manner that we do really does not pose any health hazard. Especially when one considers that the stock will be simmered long enough to kill any possible bacteria.

                                            1. re: rabaja

                                              me too. i like my stock actually just made with chicken carcass that has been roasted. no veggies in the stock itself. then it tastes like pure chicken to me, not like celery or onion. if i want those flavors in my finished product, then i add those to the finished stock.

                                            2. I make mine like mum does and grandma did. A whole chicken cut up, 2 whole onions peeled left whole, about 3 carrots peeled and cut big, same for a turnip and a parsnip, 4 celery stalks cleaned and cut big, gizzards whole. Bring to boil, skim, simmer for 3 hours when chicken should be mostly falling off the bone, lots of salt (hey I'm Jewish) pepper. Pinch of tumeric for colour.

                                              Remove onions and discard when done, refridgerate and remove fat next day. Noodles or matzah balls can be cooked in some of the soup separately and never left in the soup or they absorb all the liquid.
                                              I personally love warm chicken from the soup and we have always served our soup with vegetable chunks and chicken.

                                              1. I use method #1, mainly because I can't bring myself to toss all the spent meat from a whole chicken (and eating stringy spent meat is less than appealing). I save the backbones and wing tips from whole chickens in the freezer. When I have enough, I toss them in the crockpot and let them simmer overnight. If I want to make stock but don't have enough backs/tips saved up, I'll buy some chicken feet and maybe a couple thighs to make stock with. I save the stock in the freezer and usually make the soup at a later date. This way I have stock to use for other dishes also. I only use chicken in my stock - nothing else. I add aromatics and seasonings when I make the soup. To me (and our tight budget), soup is this amazing food you can make from otherwise undesirable leftover parts of the chicken and even veggies. I often finely chop celery leaves and beet greens (when I don't have enough to serve them as a side dish) and serve them in the soup. Parsley/herb stems add flavor to the broth while allowing you to save the desirable leaves for more "visible" uses. Same for onion peels, inner celery stalks, ugly carrots, little garlic cloves that are too difficult to chop, etc. I guess I'd rather roast a whole chicken or cut it up into parts to use in other dishes.

                                                1. I do it a different way than #1 or #2.

                                                  I buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco and take off the breast (freeze, use for dinner, salad, etc). Put the carcass in a heavy duty stock pot and put in 8 cups of water. Add 1 large onion cut in half, 2 celery stalks cut in half, two carrots, cut in half, a whole clove of garlic, cut in half, so cloves are eposed. Add 2 bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours, let cool and strain. Either set stock aside in a bowl or freeze for later use. Shred meat from carcass and set aside or freeze.

                                                  In a dutch oven, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, 3 chopped carrots, 2 stalks chopped celerly and one large onion, chopped. Heat oil, add miraproux and saute until soft. Add stock and shredded chicken, bring to a simmer. Add a head of chopped up escarole, sliced thinly, cover and shut heat off. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Taste, adjust for salt and pepper.
                                                  Cook up some tiny pasta (orzo), and put a ladle full of pasta. Fill bowl with soup, serve with lots of parmesan cheese and bread. Yum.

                                                  1. At home, I would not make Chicken Soup with a whole chicken, roasted or raw. I generally only make meat and poultry soups from scraps.....I appreciate the rustic nature of the beginnings.

                                                    Let's say I make a trip to Costco and I'm in the mood for Roasted Chicken. I'll purchase two chickens and remove the meat from the bones, then I would take all the bones and cartilage and reserve them for stock.

                                                    With regards to raw chicken, I almost always purchase them whole and bone them out myself. I remove the wings, breast meat, legs and thighs. The carcass and neck are reserved for stock. If I am boning out the meat from the dark meat, I would also reserve the bones from the legs and thighs. Sometimes I'm in a market that sell leg quarters(legs & thighs) for .59 -.69 cents in ten pound bags. If I purchase them, then I bone out the backs and reserve them for stock as well.

                                                    Another thing I do is keep a bag of scraps from vegetables peeling. This would be the standard onion core tops and bottoms, carrots and celery.....in addition to any vegetables I purchase at any given time seasonally. these could include scraps from asparagus, broccoli, squashes, tomatoes, cabbage, string bean tips......you get the idea....basically anything that won't darken the stock or make it bitter. When the bag becomes full, I make a vegetable stock.

                                                    When making chicken soup, I would then start off with water to boil the bones and remove the scum. Next, I would add the vegetable stock to finish off the soup stock and simmer 2-3 hours. This is the basic method I follow, so the soup is always a bit different. Any meats or vegetables are added towards the end of the simmer.

                                                    If I wanted to make a straight Chicken Soup with Noodles or Matzo Balls, I would make straight chicken stock with only onion, carrots, celery and bay leaves.... and add fresh chopped vegetables and meat at the end to the finished soup stock.

                                                    1. Number two method for me, sometimes supplemented with chicken stock from a carton if it needs more flavor.

                                                      1. I make the stock first. Freeze it and can make soup easily when I want. I can make a quick soup with leftovers or a more involved soup with fresh chicken cooked in the broth. Having the broth allows me to make a variety of soup flavors.

                                                        1. Here's a separate question for those who make the stock first. When you want chicken soup, do you add raw chicken into the stock and cook it that way, or cook the chicken separately and then add it to the stock?

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Cooked chicken.....not separately, but most likely from leftovers. If you added any raw chicken with bones, you would have to deal with scum and skimming all over.....however, I would have no problem adding boned white or dark meat myself.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Chicken and turkey soup is usually made with leftover cooked meat. In fact, a lot of the soup we make starts out with a leftover protein. There are exceptions, such as for shrimp bisque.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                I often make meatball soup out of it which means making little meatballs out of ground chicken which then get simmered in the stock. If I make some other kind of soup - avgolemono is popular in our house - then I'll either use meat picked off leftover roast chicken, or buy pieces to poach, pick, and add to the soup. Sometimes I leave the meat out all together. It's all about the broth for me.

                                                                1. re: Jen76

                                                                  Do you put the meatballs raw into the soup? That's how I do tomato bases sauces sometimes but it never occurred to me to to it w/ soup.

                                                                  I've always used cooked chicken/meats in stock for soup but wondered why I didn't just add raw meat and cook it. Anyone do that? It seems like it would flavor the meat more.

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    Yup! Just gently place them in the soup raw and barely simmer it while they cook. Makes the soup very chickeny.

                                                                    1. re: Jen76

                                                                      Can't wait to give this a try, maybe even in the crockpot so we can come home to some good home made meatball soup. Thanks!!

                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        That's a great idea! I always make my stock in the crock pot, but I guess I finish the soup on the stove. I will have to try the crockpot for the meatball phase next!

                                                                        1. re: Jen76

                                                                          I do my tomato sauce that way--add the raw meatballs into the sauce in the crockpot and let them simmer all day. It's a great use of the crockpot.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            Would you share your sauce recipe?

                                                                            1. re: Jen76

                                                                              Oooh, do I have one? I use whatever I have in the house. In the summer, it could be oven roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic w/ olive oil salt, whatever oregano, basil etc, pureed. In the winter, canned tomatoes, usually San Marzano--I saute the aromatics, add meat (if I use meat), deglaze w/ red wine, add tomatoes (cutting w/ scissors), bring to simmer, then transfer to crockpot to continue simmer. Or, if I'm busy, I'll do the quick Marcella Hazan one w/ canned tomatoes, cut onion, butter right into the crockpot. If the sauce is liquidy, I fold a kitchen towel under the lid.

                                                                              But, those are kind of general and if I use whatever vegetables I have in the house, and spices. I just make meatballs starting w/ a pomade and again, meat, onions, cheese, salt, pepper, whatever catches my eye. Make meatballs whatever size I want (my son loves them really large) and gently add to sauce. Usually I have more meatballs leftover and bake those and then add the scrapings from the pan back into the sauce. Sorry it's not more specific.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                No worries. Just wondering...I do similar with whatever I have, too. It's just that, for some reason, my tomato sauce is sometimes to acidy. I hate adding sugar. It never tastes right that way to me. I usually add shredded carrots for their sweetness, but sometimes that doesn't work either.

                                                              2. I did the whole chicken method but I liked America's Test Kitchen's method of making chicken stock from ground chicken and then after the flavor is extracted, throwing it out.

                                                                1. Chicken, chicken bones, chicken necks, short ribs (on the bone), turkey. veggies, onions, dill, parsley - and i let it all cook for a really - really - long time. remove the herbs and some of the veggies, strain out the small little broken off bones -

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: brooklynkoshereater

                                                                    My mother loves to put dill in her soup. She swears that the dill and a few parsnips make her soup extra delicious.

                                                                  2. Alas...I open up a carton of store bought chicken stock, add my veggies and seasonings, shred the breast meat from a purchased rotisserie chicken, throw in some store bought refridgerated cheese tortellini, and viola! Homemade chicken soup a la LA Buckeye Fan.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                                      Oh my gosh, I've made that exact same recipe! Very tasty. :)

                                                                      (Also nice with some browned chicken sausage instead of the rotisserie chicken, btw -- you know, the precooked ones that come four to a package . . .)

                                                                      1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                        Thanks for the tip! But I do enjoy eating the skin from the rotisserie chicken while I"m waiting for my soup to be ready. :)

                                                                    2. This is the way my Jewish mother-in-law taught her Baptist daughter-in-law to make chicken soup: 1 whole chicken under 5 lbs. Put in soup pot and cover with cold water. Slice 1 onion, 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, 3 parsnips and add. Chop 3 cloves garlic and add. Add a large pinch of sugar (for love). Toss in a handful of parsley and/or dill. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook for about 2 hours. Add additional water as needed. Skim off the fat (and save). Never has failed and I wish she were still with me to share a bowl.

                                                                      1. Method #2, always. I sometimes buy just drumsticks, but I prefer putting a whole chicken in to a pot with cold water, turning on the heat to medium-low. I check the pot from time to time to be sure it doesn't ever boil. When it begins to simmer, the heat gets turned down realllly low and the chicken poaches for hours. i have found this way that the meat stays very tasty, moist and tender. I add whatever veggies are on hand, serve with egg noodles or broken spaghetti. If I'm lucky we've got some little meatballs on hand to throw in as well!

                                                                        If I have a craving for pho, then I just add the appropriate spices, and switch the noodles.

                                                                        1. Both methods work. Method #1 is more of a "reinforced" chicken stock. Depending one how rich (salt aside) the stock is in the first place will dictate the flavor of the soup. By adding more vegs, seasonings, meat, etc, you have fresher ingredients and adds more flavor. Of course if you start with a canned chicken stock, your soup will only be as good as that canned stock.

                                                                          Method #2 is a "from stratch" approach in which you can add more aromatics and ensure a more flavorful stock. I prefer this as well.


                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: LatinLovinEG

                                                                            I don't agree. Method #2 starts with water. Starting with homemade stock is always best.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              What did you make the stock from? another chicken? or last week's chicken carcass?

                                                                              How about this challenge - make the best chicken soup from just one chicken? My approach is to cook the chicken till tender (whole or major parts), removed and separate the meat, put the bones, skin, and bony parts back on the pot for another hour or two. Strain the stock. Next day, saute vegetables, add the stock, seasonings, chicken, and starch (noodles, rice, dumplings, etc).

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                Then you are basically doing the 'stock' method. I do the same thing but dnt always start with a whole chicken but mostly backs, wings and feet. The way some people have been describing ge way they make soup the stock sounds a little weak. No insult is intended I just don't see how the whole ckicken method is any better and can be not as good.

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  If you use "mostly backs, wings and feet" you get chicken stock. If you use a whole chicken you get chicken stock and chicken for chicken soup, not just stock to use in another kind of soup, such as squash soup.

                                                                                  1. re: yayadave

                                                                                    Yea, so what? When it's time to make chicken soup you use some chicken. I guess I disagree with the whole premis of the OP that using stock results in a 'flat' taste.

                                                                          2. Chinese secret to the tastiest broth: use chicken feet.

                                                                            It sounds weird, I know, but you wind up with absolutely superior chicken flavor.

                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                            1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                              I want to try this in my large all-clad slow cooker. How many lbs of chicken feet? Should I add a whole chicken, too? Chicken wings? Ginger? Someone said they start it on high and then go to low. Any advice for me?

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Earlier, I'd spent about an hour looking for this thread...I'd remembered it but could not find it. Thanks for the link, I've saved it this time.

                                                                                  I'd like to do it in the crock pot over night. How many lbs of feet and chicken parts should I get? Do you add any vinegar?

                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                    Unlike in SF where you can buy such things by the #, I have to buy by the package. I had two packs of feet and one of backs. I estimated 3# and 2#, respectively, but that's more a guesstimate. If you, I'd buy enough to fill the CP around 3/4? I only use water but the sky seems to be the limit as to what others use. I actually kinda like that vinegar idea. Would add a nice note, wouldn't it?

                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                      I wouldn't add vinegar at the beginning. If you want that flavor add it at the end or whenyoumake the soup. (I think it could make the stock sour in long cooking but not in a good way). I'd hate to see you go to the effort and not like the result.

                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        Good point. I got that advice a long time ago here when I had put some lemon segments in my stock liquid. Was advised it could make it bitter.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          Isn't the idea with the vinegar that if you add just a very small amount - not enough to taste - it leaches more calcium, and possibly also more flavor, from the bones as the stock simmers? It seems to me that I read that elsewhere on CH, but I've never tried it.

                                                                                  2. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                    Must be something with the feet, because my secret to my Italian Sunday Spaghetti sauce/gravy is to add pigs feet. :)

                                                                                    1. re: mcel215

                                                                                      Feet, bird or mammal have a lot of skin and tendons, both good sources for gelatin.

                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        So true. I made menudo yesterday. In addition to tripe, I used a whole cow's foot. This morning it is completely solid. Lovin' it.

                                                                                  3. Both methods are traditional ways of making chicken soup, but we no longer are blessed with traditional chickens. We get these tender, young birds that are great as meat, but the old tough fowl or superanuated rooster is no longer easily obtained. This means less flavor and less gelatin is available. This means we need to add more meat and bones, and some sort of tougher bird parts.

                                                                                    My method is #2, but I use as much reserved carcass parts, necks, bones, etc. as I have saved in the freezer, jam as much solid as possible into the pot, and make sure there are a few garlic cloves and whole cloves in the pot also. I also like to include a few turkey wings, for flavor and gelatin that no longer come from our young chickens. I don't peel the onions, as the brown skin colors the soup a nice yellow. I strain the solids out, return a few nice pieces of vegs and meat , add dill and parsley ,and serve as soon as they turn bright green.

                                                                                    1. I do a variation on the whole chicken method. I save up trimmings--backs, wings, and even roasted bones when I'm thrifty, then bring them a simmer along with a whole chicken. I've also lately added bought feet and/or backs to the trimmings, when I can find them. The chicken simmers along with everything else, plus some salt and bay leaf until it's cooked through. I remove the chicken and let it cool enough to debone, which is easier done if I've hacked it up a bit before it went in the pot. (Remove backbone, wings in pieces cut through bone, leg tips.) After removing the meat, I hack the carcass and return it to the pot, saving the meat for the soup. If I have time, I'll simmer the broth in a low oven overnight. If not, I develop the flavor on the stovetop, immediately adding vegetables and herbs. (After the overnight, it gets the same vegetable/herb treatment on the stovetop for about an hour.) Drain and defat, then proceed to the soup, which is often a simple carrot/celery/scallion/ginger recipe, but can go other ways from this method. If I have extra broth, I freeze it.