HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


what's your secret to chicken soup?

i just made chicken soup. first made a mirepoix in olive oil, added the chicken pieces and sauteed some more then added water, salt, and herbs (thyme, parsley and rosemary) it came out fine. nothing spectacular. any recommendations on improving the soup?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You don't mention the type of chicken parts you used, but I like to use the carcass, leg quarters, wings and chicken feet. .......I find using the latter two produce a more intensely flavored and rich broth.

    Last......simmer very gently and slowly for a clear soup....and never store cooked pasta in the soup, it can turn sour.

    1. If I'm using a whole chicken ( rather than a carcass from a roasted bird), I'll boil it just till the meat falls off, take out the bird and remove all the meat (watch for burnt fingers!), put the bones back in and boil that for another couple hours. The meat doesn't get all its' flavor leached out, and cooking the bones longer adds much more body and flavor to the broth.
      Usually I throw in some dried dill weed and a bay leaf or two rather than rosemary.
      As far as the vegetables, I'll use 2 stalks of celery, a couple carrots, and a whole onion to make the broth, and throw those out with the bones. Then add the veggies (celery, carrots) that I want in the soup just in the last 15 minutes or so.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jmcarthur8

        This is how I do it. Cook the chicken to death and use large chunks of vegetables. Add fresher veggies later if you want the bulk.

        Usually I'll put the chicken in cold water, bring to a boil and boil lightly for about 10 min while skimming the scum that comes to the top. Then turn to simmer and for one 4 lb bird I'll usually add 1-2 onions (depending on how big they are, I love it with big sweet onions), 2-3 stalks celery, 2-3 carrots, and an entire head of peeled garlic if I feel like having it with garlic. Small bunch of fresh parsley, small bunch of fresh dill if available. Bay leaves, peppercorns, sometimes whole coriander seeds, a little salt.

        I usually only save a portion of the meat and not all of it, and a few carrots. Everything else I'll boil to death and strain out using a fine strainer because I prefer a brothy soup.

      2. If you do exactly what you did as you described but substitute homemade chicken stock for the water you'll have a decent soup.

        When I make a soup like this I sometimes, not always, cook some noodles separately and put some in the individual bowls and then ladle in the soup. I never put noodles in the kettle of soup in case we wish to freeze any leftovers. The noodles can turn to mush upon thawing.

          1. Agreeing with those above. Chicken soup is generally a two-stage project for me. First, make the stock, using the chicken parts, some onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and maybe some peppercorns. After that, strain the broth and start over, picking the chicken, and adding whatever other flavors you might like. Veggies have to be re-cut, since you've already sucked the flavor out of the last ones, but it seems to make the difference for us.

            1. one more vote for starting with excellent stock -- i do mine with carrots, onion, celery, fennel, garlic head, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, salt, and a lemon, with the old carcass. then move onto the new bird. as another poster suggested, we always used to cook our noodles separately and add the lokshen to each bowl as needed/desired.

              1. I make the stock with a carcass and leg meat from a rotisserie chicken (Costco). I add a couple of carrots, halved, lots of leafy celery, whole head of garlic, and onion sliced in half. Let simmer for a couple of hours, partially covered. Then strain and shred chicken. Discard veggies and carcass. I then sautee my miraprox (lots of onion, carrots and celery, chopped, add the stock, shredded chicken pieces into the soup pot, a couple of bay leaves and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Chop a head of broccoli rabe into small pieces, add to soup. When ready to serve, adjust salt and pepper, and ladle in some cooked, tiny pasta (orzo). Serve with parmasean cheese. Yum, it gets raves.

                1. start with a good stock and then add onion parnspip potato carrot, and chicken legs.

                  1. It's really up to trial and error, in my experience. And personal taste, of course. I just made a soup this weekend for this week's lunches, and I did none of what was mentioned so far in this thread. But it was the best damn chicken soup I've made to date (for my tastes) because I used fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme) and dried bay leaves this time around, which I did to see if it'd make a difference in my previous soups. The flavor was just kicked up ten notches from when I used dried herbs the previous times. Not in-your-face-overpowering, but noticeable in a good way.

                    I also used chicken boullion, which I've never used before (was just straight up stock, store-bought and homemade, previously). Not sure if that made a huge difference.

                    Didn't even use bone-in chicken as I was just trying to use up a bunch of frozen chicken. Threw in about 1.5 lbs total of (frozen) boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts. Still came out great, chicken was tender, no having to deal with bones (which is a plus when you're pressed for time and space).

                    I say the first place to start is to play around with the herbs and use some sort of stock/boullion instead of just water. Those made the biggest differences, in my experience. Could be different for you, depending on what you're looking for.