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Now I am making Chicken Soup/stock and am a little confuzzled!

First thank you to everyone that responded to my cry for the best ever fried chicken recipe!

Now I am making chicken soup/stock. I started it in a huge pot that could probably hold 4 whole chickens with no problem. I have put in my collection of chicken parts, some carrots, green onions and celery as well as a bunch of smashed up garlic cloves,a lemon cut in half and lots of pepper! In fact too much pepper. I have been simmering this since 5:30 am pacific time. I have some questions...,
The pepper has made the broth rather spicey. I used the coarse ground pepper . Is there any way I can reduce the pepper taste, possibly countering it with sugar?

Also, I keep reading prior posts and they say to skim off the fat. I thought the fat added flavor so in the past I left it in. When you skim off the fat I have also read you can save it. What would you use it for? One post mentioned saving it to make biscuits so if anyone has any thoughts on that I would appreciated it.

Since I used such a huge pot, I am unsure how to reduce the stock. Do I just let it boil for a few hours or keep it on a roiling simmer or what?

I plan to keep it on the stove all day then use some for my chicken soup tonight and freeze the rest. I have read some people simmer their stock up to 24 hours so if I am doing it too long please let me know!

I have been all over the chicken soup treads and found them very helpful but did not find the answers to my question so I would love to hear from all you experienced cooks on how I can remedy my soup/stock!

p.s. I just ot an email from a friend who started a hen house and just found his first ever egg! The email came with a portrait of the little one. I feel so guilty now making this soup! Here is a pic of the little bugger!

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  1. You could try adding some more water to dilute the pepper-y taste. I typically don't like to season the stock much as I'm usually using it for another end product where I can adjust the seasoning as needed.

    Once you've brought it to a boil, you should simmer for some time to reduce.

    I don't know what to use the skimmed fat for as I've always thrown it out.

    Best of luck.

    1. Remember that when you reduce your stock the flavors intensify, so you may want to add more water. I usually use whole peppercorns when making stock so that I can adjust seasoning in the final product.

      1. You've put in a lot more flavorings then I generally use, but let's go from where you are. First, you might want to sieve the stock now and see if you can pull out that pepper--maybe that will keep the stock from getting any spicier. Second, I would say your stock is done, I think 7 hours is enough. At this point, you might want to let it cool slightly and skim off some of the fat. If you trimmed the chicken of fat before cooking there won't be that much, otherwise if you don't skim it now it could taste greasy rather than just rich. For the future, my suggestion would be to season the broth less at the start and add flavorings when you make dishes--that gives you more versatility.

        1. I generally don't add aromatics since that leaves me with a neutral product that I can then modify further. But exactly how much pepper did you toss in there? Most of the time, we're talking 12 or so whole grains for 12-16 quarts of liquid.

          You're supposed to skim off the scum once you get the pot to a simmer to ensure that you get as clear a broth as possible (no rolling boils or else everything is cloudy).

          If you elect to collect the fat, either by skimming, fat separator or doing the "let's chill the pot and let the fat congeal" method, you can use it in a variety of things, including matzoh balls and dumplings, pot pie crusts, or as the fat element when doing sous-vide chicken. You've already got a biscuit idea. I made a chicken fat mayonnaise once which was interesting to say the least.

          To reduce the stock after you've removed all the solids *and* the fat: transfer to a clean pot and gently simmer until you get to the concentration you're looking for.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wattacetti

            Re: the chicken fat - you can also use it plus stock to cook rice. That's basically how Hainanese chicken rice is made. :-)

          2. Forgot - the egg looks great. Especially if poached and with a little hollandaise.

            1 Reply
            1. wattacetti seems to know something about stock..
              In the future, use whole peppercorns that can be strained out. I would not dilute the stock & remove any cooked chicken before reducing ( you could strip the meat off and put the bones back in.) You may find that once strained and cooled, the pepper may have calmed down a bit.

              and...no sugar.

              1. Interesting that your recipe calls for lemon in chicken stock. That's not unheard of, but is atypical.

                For the pepper, I suggest adding more lemon juice and a little sugar to rebalance the flavors.

                Do you plan on using the chicken from your broth (or did you only use chicken parts?)

                I don't see the benefit from simmering 24 hours or reducing. Simmering the stock for 4 to 6 hours should be sufficient to extract the flavors from the bones and allow for some natural reduction.

                Personally, I would skim the fat since that won't blend into the soup. If you don't, you'll end up with greasy soup. The fat can be used for frying.

                4 Replies
                1. re: dave_c

                  I don't understand adding sugar to the stock. As to the chicken fat, some people use it, some people don't. Mine goes right in the trash--my frig is already too full.

                  1. re: dave_c

                    Interesting that your recipe calls for lemon in chicken stock. That's not unheard of, but is atypical.

                    Many people add a touch of acid -- either lemon or vinegar -- to their stock so to help dissolve the collagen in the bones.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      i add acid, but the pith from a cut lemon may add bitterness to the broth.

                    2. re: dave_c

                      No, acid in stock is very typical.

                    3. Thank you all! I am going to skim out what I can then let it congeal and remove some of the fat. I think I will refridgerate the fat and try and find a use for it. How long will it stay good in the fridge?. I stuck a whole chicjen in there earlier and poached it to 165 ° in the breast and it is cooling. As for various chicken parts I used about 5 pounds and also a carcess from a roast chicken I made. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the skimming will reduce the pepper. I froze water bottles to chill the soup down.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Axlsgoddess

                        wattacetti above has already listed some uses for chicken fat besides the biscuits you know about. Chicken rice is another one. acgold7 below makes some comments about the fat too. :-)

                        Or; render it and make it into schmaltz. Look it up. :-)

                        1. re: huiray

                          mmmm...schmaltz! That's what I use my chicken fat for when I make stock. It's why my potato kugel is so good!

                          1. re: huiray

                            potatoes sauteed or roasted in chicken fat are krazee good.

                        2. Oh my. That's a lot of stuff. And what a big pot.

                          Here's the thing. Stock is not soup, and it sounds like you're confusing the two.

                          Stock is an ingredient, not an entree. It is the base for any number of things (including soup).

                          The point is, stock should be a concentrated, neutral ingredient which you can then dilute and season into soup, or into any number of other applications.

                          A well made chicken stock needs little embellishment. All you need is chicken, water and salt. The MOST important part is the ratio of chicken to water, NOT the flavorings. The reason is because making stock is science, whereas the aromatics are the art. If you don't get the science right, you'll end up with flavorless chicken water.

                          The essence of good stock is in the bones. Essentially, bones are made of dust. The material that holds bones together (and keeps them from crumbling apart) is called collagen. When you cook collagen, it dissolves into gelatin. And it is a high concentration of natural gelatin that gives your chicken stock a beautiful, silky texture. When you put it in the refrigerator overnight, it turns into chicken flavored jello. That's exactly what you want.

                          That's why the ratio of chicken to water is so important. If you use too much water (or too little chicken), the stock will be thin and watery. That's why supermarket chicken stock will never turn into jello in your fridge-- it would be too expensive for them to use enough chicken to make it the right way.

                          So my advice to you is this. Chalk up your crazy carrot/celery/garlic/lemon/pepper/sugar concoction to a loss. Make a simple, neutral stock and turn that into any number of bowls of soup seasoned to your liking. Feel free to experiment.... simmer one with lemon, pepper in another, hell throw in some cantaloupe if you feel like it. Go crazy. It's your soup.

                          My favorite recipe for chicken stock, from Cooks Illustrated. When you're done, freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen, pop the chicken stock cubes into a ziploc freezer bag, and you'll have fresh stock any time you want it.


                          1 tablespoon vegetable oil
                          4 pounds whole chicken legs, or backs and wing tips, cut into 2-inch pieces
                          1 chunk unpeeled ginger (about 1 inch), sliced thin and lightly smashed
                          2 medium scallions, halved lengthwise and lightly smashed
                          2 quarts boiling water
                          2 teaspoons salt


                          1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot; sauté until both sides are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl. Sauté the remaining chicken pieces. Return the first batch of chicken pieces to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

                          2. Stir in the ginger and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high and add the boiling water and salt. Return to a simmer, then cover and barely simmer until the stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.

                          3. Strain the stock; discard the solids. Before using, defat the stock. The stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days or frozen for several months.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. Since others have expanded with details, I make mine in a 22L (qt) stock pot, which is large enough to fit around 70 chicken carcasses and some additional feet (for chicken jello). The only other ingredient is water. Roasting or not roasting the bones ahead of time is up to you (I've done both).

                            European methods will modify this by adding mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery, optionally leeks) and a bouquet garni.

                            Asian methods will modify this by adding ginger, green onions, perhaps star anise, garlic, cinnamon, clove and/or other aromatics. I have seen sugar, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves go into pots but it was as a preparatory step for a specific dish.

                            Adding actual meat will enhance the resulting liquid and you also get a nice poached chicken to make a sandwich with (assuming you don't boil the h*ll out of it).

                            Adding no aromatics will allow you to do whatever it is you want with it.

                            After making and finishing the batch, you can if you have an adequate quantity of bones do a remouillage and make a second smaller batch which will be cloudier than the first. Not an issue if you're using for applications that don't require clarity or if you do syneresis.

                            1. Lots of advice so far, some great, some not so great. Adding more water at this point is useless, because you'll dilute all the other flavors as well, and reducing to intensify the chicken flavors will only get you back to where you started. But there's good news: the flavor oils in black pepper are fairly volatile and tend to dissipate fairly quickly, so the stock won't be so spicy after prolonged cooking.

                              If you're lucky enough to have several sized stockpots, strain everything now into a smaller stock pot and thoroughly wash the big one, rinsing with very cold water when you're done. Fill it with ice and set the smaller stockpot containing the stock into it. Carefully fill the larger stockpot with cold water. Hopefully the smaller pot with the stock will float or be supported by the handles. Stir the stock every thirty seconds for the first five or ten minutes. Within thirty minutes or so the stock should be about body temp and you should have a nice thick puck of fat on the top. Do not disturb this puck; it is a perfect hermetic seal that keeps your stock sanitary and germ-free. Refrigerate overnight or until you are ready to freeze or otherwise use or preserve (canning, etc.) the stock. If you don't disturb the puck it will keep for weeks -- this two-day nonsense is just that.

                              When you are ready to freeze or use, carefully remove the puck -- it's okay if it breaks up -- and scrape off and discard the impurities that are clinging to the bottom of it. Melt the fat down in a bowl or microwave-safe Pyrex measuring cup or on the stovetop in a pot and put into a mason jar. Any remaining impurities will sink to the bottom. It will keep for years like this in the fridge. Use for anything you'd use oil for (except maybe salad dressing). Fry onions or potatoes, saute, rub on chickens before roasting, etc. Throwing away this fat should be punishable by death.

                              As for the stock, now's the time to bring to a simmer and adjust the seasonings. If it's just bland, reduce. Don't add salt yet because you don't know what you're going to do with it. You might need to reduce it to a sauce later and if you add salt now it might be too salty later.

                              I use a mix of raw and roasted bones I save up in Ziploc bags from prior weeks' cookings, sorted by type. Also all trimmings from carrots, onions, scallions, shallots, celery. I would never, ever, use ginger; it's too strong and distinct and wouldn't, I think, leave the stock neutral enough to use in everything. The only bones I don't use are those from the grill; the acrid flavor of "char" makes the stock unsuitable for other uses. But I do use bones from the smoker to use for stocks that will end up in gumbo, jambalaya, ham and bean soup, etc. I make stock a couple of times a month and can what I don't use right away. I have about ten flavors of stock in my pantry and about five different labeled Ziplocs in my freezer right now.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: acgold7

                                In defense of ginger, the amount used in my recipe has never interfered with my enjoyment of it in other complex cooked applications (like stews or sauces, where the mild ginger notes are covered up by significantly more savory ingredients). Having said that, I most often use this recipe to make my own wonton soup (NY style, with chopped green onions and julienned bbq pork) and it is spectacular.

                                But really, the most important thing to take away from my sample recipe is as I said originally, the ratio of chicken to water (and salt). Season the rest as you like. I especially like the flavor that fond brings to the stock. It's a way to boost the flavor of the soup and extract the precious gelatin with only about an hour of cooking time.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  No, I'm sure you're right and this is one of those things that's just a matter of personal taste. It's probably great in Asian stuff but even there I'm not a huge ginger fan so I usually just leave it out so I can add it later. I generally like CI's recipes but to my taste they go a little ginger-crazy in everything. But that's just me.

                                  I'm also weird in that I don't add salt to the stockpot. I never know how much I'm going to be reducing the end product so I wait. I've never found it makes any difference in how much flavor gets extracted, only in the perceived flavor because salt points up flavor on our tongues. In other words, no difference, in this case, whether the salt gets added in the beginning or end. But I do always brine my chickens before cooking so much of that salt is likely going into the stock so I think I'm covered when I use the bones from chickens I've cooked (or from roasted birds from the store, which are even saltier).

                                  1. re: acgold7

                                    You're not weird, or at least not THAT weird. Most of the cooks I know, home cooks and professionals, do not salt their stock until they need to use it.

                              2. I use whole peppercorns in my stock. Not sure how to reduce the flavor of them without adding more water which will dilute your stock flavor also.

                                chicken fat, I leave it in unless I want the schmaltz for cooking. Used a lot of Jewish kosher cooking, I use it in kreplach but you can use it anywhere a savory fat is fine.

                                I don't reduce my stock, I just start with less water to begin with. I use one smoked chicken carcass left over from dinner and then the aromatics and fill to the 6 quarts line if I'm doing a small pot.

                                I've don't mine overnight many times.

                                1. I use my huge crockpot and just bones (usu roasted) and water. I definitely let this go for 24 hours to get stock that cools into chicken jelly with a layer of fat on top. It extracts all of the collagen and the bones crumble when I strain them out.

                                  Agree that seasoning should wait until you are using the stock in your future recipe. You never know what you'll be using it for.

                                  1. Why did you add any pepper to begin with? That's an odd thing to do.

                                    Only way to reduce the pepper flavor is to add more water.

                                    Adding sugar will only give sweet and pungent/spicy stock.

                                    1. Hi Axlsgoddess,

                                      You've got a lot of advice here that I'm sure will yield you an excellent stock. I'll add some of my personal tweaks to what's been said.

                                      1. Let's start with the pepper. I'm making some assumptions about the size of your pot based on your description, but I would say a two finger pinch of whole peppercorns just barely cracked would be plenty. If you don't crack the pepper just ever so slightly then you aren't getting much flavor out of it at all.

                                      2. I would personally avoid salt altogether. Some say it helps to pull flavor out of your meaty bones, but I'm not a fan. If you end up using the stock in a pan sauce and therefore concentrating it a great deal then you lose control of the seasoning of your sauce. You can always add salt later.

                                      3. Never, ever, boil the stock. It can cause the albumin proteins and fats to emulsify into your stock. It will affect clarity (probably not a big deal) but it can also make a stock taste greasy (a really big deal).

                                      4. I wouldn't do chicken stock for more than 8 hours. I find when I've let chicken stock go much longer than that it tastes . . . dead . . . if that makes sense.

                                      5. Consider a large pressure cooker. I've moved to this. Very clear stock. Very fast. NO SKIMMING. It works. I swear it.

                                      6. If you aren't into the large pressure cooker idea, consider making your stock overnight in your oven. Get it to a simmer and do your skimming of the crud that rises to the top. Then pop the whole pot into your oven at about 210 F. When you wake up, strain and store.

                                      7. If you are adding aromatics (and I do), wait until the last hour of simmering. Over-extracted leek, pepper, celery, etc. can make your stock overly vegetal or even bitter. The veggies also absorb some of the fluid of the stock which decreases your yield.

                                      8. Lastly, figure out how to make the process as easy as possible. Homemade stock is incredible, but you don't need to make 60 L of it at a time. You can make stock from tonight's vegetable trim and the left over carcass. So what if it yields just 2 quarts. That's perfect for tomorrow's risotto and the smaller batch is incredibly easy to manage and make.

                                      Have fun and good luck!

                                      1. This may be an over simplification but why not reserve it for recipes that call for pepper to be added later on. Most savory dishes using chicken stock (that I can think of off the top of my head) usually call for salt and pepper somewhere in the formula. Just don't add the pepper until tasting. Make sense?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: SonyBob

                                          Good point, Sony Bob. If this stock is going to be used in other applications--for me risotto comes to mind--then the extra pepper could be just fine. Good thinking!

                                        2. Update! I strained the stock after cooking it approximately 10 hours to let the pepper dissapate as advised. It worked! The strong pepper flavor did dissapate! It had a very pleasant ultra chickeny flavor and thankfully did not have too much salt. I made the chicken soup tonight using both egg noodles and home made dumplings (Emeril's recipe). I got a lot of yum yums and curiously enough I was asked why I did not use any pepper and it needed more salt! Anyways I am now excited to us my stock in other soups, risotto which I have never made and all the other suggestions you all gave me. Thank you all again for all your suggestions. I finally feel like I am becoming a member of the Chowhound community!

                                          P.S. Still feel guilty about that egg. Sort of how you feel when you order Sushi and there is a huge aquarium in in the restaurant!

                                          1. You can make chicken stock a LOT more easily than you have done. Use a slow cooker (crock pot).In it put four leg-thigh combinations, one large onion cut in half, and two or three ribs of celery. Fill with water as full as you can. Cook ovenight. Put a big mixing bowl in the sink and put a colander in the mixing bowl then pour the contents of the slow cooker into the colander. What remains in the colander, throw out. What goes through the colander is chicken stock. Forget all the fancy stuff. Get fancy in the finished dish---let your plain, strong chicken stock be a building block for other recipes. As for the fat, yes, it does add flavor, but then you can get rid of it. If you refrigerate the stock in quart glass jars the fat will rise to the top and get hard---just lift it off and toss it, otherwise it ends up in your arteries.

                                            1. Glad your soup came out well.

                                              You asked about leaving the fat in and I didn't see anyone address this. The fat may be flavorful, but it won't emulsify into the stock. If you chill the stock, the fat rises to the top and forms a block of chicken butter. If you keep the stock hot and fatty, when you make soup from it the fat will rise to the top of each bowl and form a little oil slick. It's more about texture and appearance than flavor.

                                              1. Axisgoddess,

                                                Just found your thread as I am making a batch of chicken stock today and I was hunting around for new ideas and to make sure my usual method is right on (it seems to be, yay). I wondered if you have made additional batches of stock since that first one in August? Do you still add the lemon?

                                                My method is simple -- I roast chicken necks & backs with onion, celery, carrot (drizzle with a little olive oil, roast at 450 for about 45 minutes). After roasting necks, backs, veggies, then I add all of that to my stockpot and cover with about an inch of water. I add a little water to the roasting pan and scrape out all of the goodies on the bottom and throw that into my stockpot too. Skim for a while, then add my aromatics (bay leaves, whole peppercorns, a few sprigs fresh parsley). I do not add any salt. I've been making stock this way since my first batch (in 2007) and I agree with you that it is very exciting to add homemade coziness to risottos, soups, sauces, braises. :)

                                                I notice that some people add wine to stock. Hmmm. I haven't done that. I always like wine added to anything, LOL, but I agree with other posters here on keeping the flavors neutral in the stock, so I've never done that. Anyone here add wine to stock and notice a significant improvement?

                                                Honestly, one of the more interesting parts is finding a place to sell me the backs and necks! I do not care for the bland flavor of meat cooked in the stock, so I go with the necks/backs, and many seem to agree that this is the ticket to great flavor/texture. I haven't ventured to feet, yet.

                                                What a great way to start off a new year -- with oodles of homemade long-simmered chicken stock!

                                                1. A few comments. Celery tends to make stocks bitter. Adding wine to stocks tends to makes the stock bitter. Carrots and onions and other vegetables are "flavor sponges" so don't throw them away. Boiling any stock will turn it cloudy and you'll never be able to clarify it. These observations come right out of the 'French Laundry' cookbook. I tend to lean towards and follow pretty well whatever Thomas Keller and Co. advise. I've tried a lot of their recipes and 'haven't had a bad one yet". I usually put the entire stock pot in the bottom of the fridge over night. Next day I carefully lift off the hardened chicken fat. This fat is 'most precious'. I use it sparingly when ever I sauté anything. Did you know that at one time in China only the 'Royal' family could legally consume rendered use duck fat? If you were caught with said duck fat you could be executed.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                    i do not use celery in stock or soup anymore because of keller. :) am much happier with my results. carrots, onions or scallions and some garlic. occasionally ginger.

                                                    no wine, ever.

                                                    i never add salt until the end when the product is sufficiently reduced. i use crushed peppercorns, not ground pepper.

                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                      Why is it important to have a clear stock? And what is wrong with boiling the bones? The richest, most wonderful tonkotsu ramen, for example, is always cloudy.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        It's not "important" to have a clear stock. But if you want to have clear stock there are techniques requires for same. I prefer clear stocks others don't care either way. Each to their own right?

                                                    2. I mean this in the most positive way so please don't take it wrong. Throw it all down the drain. You've made so many mistakes your stock is irreparable. If you want to make really superlative chicken stock I suggest you buy Kellers book 'The French Laundry'. Follow the chicken stock recipe to the letter. I'm not being 'nasty' for 'nasty' sake, I'm only telling you the truth. I've screwed up so many times in the kitchen I can't begin to count them all. Every single time I've screwed up is because I was sure 'I knew better' than to follow a recipe by a so-called expert. Believe me, if Thomas Keller tells you to add three grams of something to a recipe don't add four. Best of luck with your next stock. I mean that sincerely.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                        Since the original post was from 2011, chances are, they have had some soup, enjoyed it, and then moved on.

                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                          No need to throw it away, and what a criminal waste of food! Yes, mistakes were made, but it's not unsalvageable. A halved potato, tossed in, will absorb some of the pepper, and a small t. of sugar might indeed address the issue. For home use, perfect isn't necessary, and if it doesn't make great chicken soup proper, the stock can still be used for lentil soup, onion soup (both of which take very well to extra pepper),many other soups (veg? minestrone? potato?) gravies, or braising liquid.

                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                            I think we have radically different approaches to cooking: I see recipes as suggestions or points of departure, and never make things the same way twice. Soups are rather hard to totally screw up, especially if you taste periodically while cooking.

                                                            My chicken stock is very simple: when I buy whole chickens I freeze the wing tips, backs, necks and gizzards together. When I have enough parts - 2 to 3 birds' worth - I put them, a coarsely chopped onion, carrot, celery, about a dozen peppercorns and a bay leaf or two in my stockpot with water to cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for the better part of a day. If I happen to be nearby when I think about it, I skim the scum and fat off the top. When done, I strain the stock - by this time any meat has been cooked so long that even the cats won't touch it - and can it. I don't salt until the final dish.

                                                            That's the way my grandmother did it (except she used stewing hens which aren't as easy to find here) so it must be right :-)