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Aug 27, 2013 04:37 PM

Question about chicken broth

I'm making a large batch of chicken tortilla soup for some monks (for tomorrow) and decided to boil the chicken with carrot, celery, onion. I actually have a bad cold and so left my husband in charge. Waking up 5 hours later, the chicken is all off the bone, and there are 4 large bowls of the broth sitting on the counter. I have NO sense of taste or smell so it seems a bit watery to me (husband isn't sure if it's good or not). The color is a nice yellow but I don't know whether I should use this as my broth for the soup or use the boxed cartons I had already purchased. There's way too much of it, though, and I'm struggling to figure out what to do with it now. Can I put it all back in a stock pot and reduce it down a bit?

My head's not functioning very well, so I need some guidance. Thanks!

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  1. Reduce it if it's too weak, especially if you have too much. I'd put the bones back in, too. I don't think 5 hours is long enough to make a good stock (though I know some people think it is.) If you left the chicken in for that long I'd consider it cat food, though.

    5 Replies
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      Yes, I don't think I'd consider this a "stock" as much as a thin broth. And unfortunately, the bones have already been discarded. Would you toss it all and start fresh? I had purchased both chicken stock and chicken broth in cartons.

      1. re: Thanks4Food

        No, definitely don't waste it! You can try reducing it first. If that doesn't work you could get another chicken and use that broth as the liquid in a new batch of stock. Or you could reduce it and then add your store bought stock and further reduce if you needed to.

        1. re: weezieduzzit

          Okay, thanks, I'll start reducing it now. Hopefully my taste buds will be functioning tomorrow.

          1. re: Thanks4Food

            It sounds like the monks aren't the only ones that could use a bowl of chicken soup!

          2. re: weezieduzzit

            this -- it there's too much and it's too thin, reducing is almost your only option....and tossing in some chicken necks and wings will give you good collagen (for a silky-textured broth) as well as nice extra flavor.

      2. I'm probably a day late and a dollar short (so to speak) but if you can neither taste nor smell, why don't you use your cartons for the monks while you reduce the broth you made? That way you'll be assured with your soup but still have the homemade broth. You can add chick necks, wings, backs, etc. and let it boil for more intense flavor and reduce if necessary. Good luck, feel better and, BTW, monks are pretty flexible. . .


        1 Reply
        1. re: caiatransplant

          Actually, I let the broth reduce down to almost half and my husband says it tastes a lot better now. I think as a base for chicken tortilla soup it will be okay, esp. once I add the puree I make from dry chilis, etc. But you've got a good point: I'll see how it tastes tomorrow (hoping taste buds will be functioning) and then decide whether to use it or just keep it for us--as weezieduzzit points out, I could use a batch of this soup myself!

        2. As someone with lots of experience cooking Mexican food in Mexico and in the US, typically--almost always, Mexicans don't use concentrated broths for soups or other dishes. That's the French style.

          6 Replies
          1. re: hankstramm

            So you mean the thinner broth is okay?

            As it is/was, the soup turned out great--at least they tell me so. I never tasted it but my husband had 3 bowls and one of the monks emailed to say it was great.

            I wanted to have some myself, but in cutting corners because of my head cold, I used Frontera Grill enchilada sauce instead of the usual pureed chilis--and discovered that it contained red bell pepper which upsets my stomach.

            1. re: Thanks4Food

              I am very-much enjoying your cooking-for-monks questions and successes!

              Glad the soup came out great. You'll probably want to write up detailed notes for their regular cook (or yourself) since there were so many detours from your usual recipe. That monk who e-mailed (or your husband) may be looking forward to a repeat sometime.

              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                Thanks. :-) I haven't been able to figure out whether their regular cook is not so hot or whether he's on a very strict budget.

                When I made the chili, one of the younger monks said, "Yay, no one got sick!" My first reaction was, "Huh?" but he explained that their cook seems to use 75/25% fatty meat and then doesn't drain it very well. Esp. when things have been refrigerated, they see all this fat on top. Oh yeah, and tonight they're having our meatloaf (I let my husband make that one--from a Bobby Flay Throwdown recipe)--and apparently meatloaf is another thing that often makes them sick.

                I was worried about pleasing them but had no idea that just not making them sick would be considered an achievement. :-)

                This has to make me wonder if they're too nice to tell their cook that he needs to change a few things.

                1. re: Thanks4Food

                  Your post made me laugh but it really does sound like you're doing a great job. Glad to hear you saved the soup! Hope you're feeling better.

            2. re: hankstramm

              I'm not entirely sure what you mean by concentrated broth.

              Traditionally Mexican cooking would have used the cooking liquid from an old bird. In fact sauce's like mole are thick pastes thinned with stock, and served over the bird.

              But now young chickens are as common in Mexico as in the USA. And bouillon powders (Knorr, Magi brands) are as common, if not more so. They haven't picked up our fear of MSG. I like to use the Knor Tomato-chicken version.

              The OP has already used the broth, but my advise would have been: "adjust for salt and other seasonings, and use it".

              Another aspect to a good broth/stock is gelatin, which gives body. I suspect Mexican cooks are as adept as the French (and Chinese) in using the parts that give a lot gelatin. Posole (pork and hominy soup) traditionally is made with the head. Menudo (trip soup) needs cows feet.

              1. re: paulj

                Mexican cooks, like you mentioned, will poach a bird in water, and that becomes the stock for the mole.

                Just to be entirely clear on what concentrated broth means, typically, the French will use up to 3-4 kilos of bones (or more depending on the type of stock) and various aromatic veggies and herbs for what eventually produces on 3-4 litres of stock. They'll simmer it for 5+ hours (my classic French veal stock takes 10-12 hours).

                Typically (and I know there are all different types of chefs in Mexico) Mexican home cooks might poach a chicken 30-45 mins in water, and use that as their "stock". Comes out fine. When making soup, most Mexican chefs (home and restaurant) never ever ever, would concentrate their stocks like the French (or Japanese for things like Ramen soups). What I've encountered is more like 1 hour or so. Especially in Mexico City and other high elevation places where the pressure cooker is typically used.

            3. I keep a jar of the low sodium "better than boullion" chicken base on hand for this. I usually end up nuking some water and diluting a bit in it then adding to my home made broth to taste after it is drained. I believe that this trick was taught to me by an authentic Jewish Grandmother years ago when I was struggling to teach myself the basics of cooking. In those days it was a bit of actual "boullion" cubes. This product is much better! Good luck!

              1. I would go with the boxed stocks, and a few cheap cooked rotisserie chickens shredded into the soup. Then do the rest of the soup with homemade fresh ingredients. What's going to stand out are the bright fresh veggies, and the fresh chicken.