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best way to cook a whole chicken for soup?

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Hi everyone. I'm making chicken soup and bought a whole chicken because it was on sale. What is the best/easiest way to cook the chicken, realizing I'm just shredding the meat and putting it in the soup? Many thanks!

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  1. Put it in a pot with cut up carrots, celery & onions, a few bay leaves and a few peppercorns. Cover with cold water and simmer for a couple hours. Strain and keep the stock water to make your soup with. Discard the vegs and pull the meat

    1. If you want pure chicken-y goodness, simmer as ctfoodguy recommends. If you want roast-y goodness, pat it dry, season w/ S&P, and put it in the oven at 450F for about 45 minutes (assuming a 4.5 lb chicken - adjust time as necessary). Allow to cool to handling temperature, and shred shred shred.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ricepad

        Agree with CTfoodguy--but if you bought this already cut-up, do it one more step Chinese-style by hacking whole raw pieces into smaller parts, using a cleaver. Adds tons of flavor.

      2. Ok. I'm going for chicken-y goodness -- the chicken is in the pot, covered in water, and the heat is on. I'm cutting the veggies now and tossing those in. Once more question: It seems the chicken had 'parts' in a bag inside the cavity. I took them out. Should I slash the bag and throw in all the parts?

        3 Replies
        1. re: lafarrell

          Those are the innards in that bag. Gizzards, liver etc Save the liver if you want for something else Don't put that stuff in the stock

          1. re: ctfoodguy

            ctfoodguy: you got me in the nick of time. Thank you!!!!!!

          2. re: lafarrell

            I always put the neck, heart , gizzard into the soup. Never the liver. (Saute that and spread it on toast, Tuscan style.)

          3. Put it w/ water, carrots, onions, celery, salt, whole peppercorns, bay leaf on stove to low simmer. Leave until chicken is cooked (depends on chicken size). Remove chicken. When it's cooled enough to touch, remove the meat and save on the side. Put the rest of the carcass back in and simmer at a higher temp for 2-4 hours, watch carefully that you don't lose too much liquid (I do it slightly covered). When it tastes right, strain and keep stock. Add chicken meat back in if you want chicken soup. Don't get rid of the stock you simmered the chicken in--it's the best part of it all, imo.

            1. I would break down the chicken into wings, legs, breast and back.

              Make a stock as described by CTFoodGuy, but I would take the chicken breast out after 30 minutes of simmering. Take the meat off the bone and set aside for the later. Add the keel bones and skin back into the stock pot. Chicken legs can handle the longer cooking without drying out.

              1. Keep in mind how much water you're adding to the pot. CI recommends 2 quarts of water per 4 lbs. of chicken. Whenever I've exceeded that ratio, I end up having to boil it down. I do it the roasting parts, deglaze the pan, then toss everything into a stockpot way.

                Just did one last night. I pulled the breasts off a 5-1/3 lb. chicken, leaving me with just a little over 4 lbs. of chicken to work with. The water more than covered the chicken since I'd hacked at the bones with a cleaver after they came out of the roasting pan. Still, I made sure I didn't exceed 2 quarts, by measuring the water that went into the roasting pan to deglaze.

                1. Thanks to everyone! The stock came out great. (I'd never made a stock before.) I agree with Chowser -- the stock is the best part. I'll definitely cook chicken this way again. Thanks!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lafarrell

                    There was an episode of America's Test Kitchen in which she browned and then discarded a package of ground chicken for extra flavor.