Old Fashioned Chicken Soup

12 Servings
6 hr 15 min

Chicken Soup is a recipe that’s near and dear to my heart. I grew up watching my grandmother make chicken soup every week but sadly I didn’t attempt to make it myself until long after she was gone. What I wouldn’t give now to ask her a few questions about all her ‘recipes’! The fact is though, my grandmother never wrote down a recipe; she cooked by intuition; a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Just thinking about her soup brings back the best childhood memories 🙂.

Chicken Soup for the Soul


Chicken soup isn’t just a winter favourite; we enjoy it year round by freezing big batches. Nothing could be better than a steaming bowl of soup with matzo balls; chicken soup for the soul, as they say! I'll have the recipe for my twist on my grandmother's matzoh ball recipe next month. Mine are gluten free and just as delicious.

Chicken Broth


Start cooking early in the morning; the soup takes 4 – 6 hours to develop flavour.We use 3 packages of chicken bones (ours weighed almost 3.4 pounds) and one breast or leg (another pound) for our soup.

Buy organic vegetables where possible. I like to prep the veggies first before handling the chicken to avoid cross contamination (and also to have them ready to go).


Tip


At our grocery store, both bones and chicken often go on sale the day before their best before date; when that happens we buy as much as we can and store it in the freezer until we’re ready to use it. Using chicken bones is an economical way to make the broth. The chicken and bones for our soup cost us just over $4 – which works out to less than .25 a bowl and worth every penny! The bones retain a lot of the actual meat and you’ll find the outcome is just as flavourful as spending a ton of money on chicken pieces!Cut all the veggies and gather your seasonings.

Place the bones in the pot. Pour cold water into the pot until it’s just covering everything (I usually use about 18 – 20 cups for the size of the pot and ingredients I’m using).

Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Skim the soup into a fresh bowl of water.

If you don’t remove the scum, it will not affect the flavour in the least however, it does affect the look of the broth.

As you can see below, on the left is a beautiful clear broth while on the right the stock is cloudy. Which would you prefer to eat? I’d rather take the extra time to end up with a professional looking broth!

Once the liquid is clear, the aromatics go into the pot along with the seasonings. Adjust the water if necessary so everything is still covered.

Cover the pot with a lid, but leave it slightly open. After two hours, take out the chicken breast, or leg, and remove the meat from the bones. Put the bones back into the soup.


Once the chicken has cooled, you can cut it into pieces or shred it to put back into the soup the next day (or use in a salad). You can store the meat in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.

Simmer the soup for a total of 4 – 6 hours; I find that the longer and slower it cooks, the more collagen-rich the broth gets. As I mentioned before, if you notice the liquid over-reducing during that time you can add a few cups of water back in.

Strain the liquid through a fine meshed strainer into the empty pot.

Allow the broth and solids to cool down to room temperature and then discard the solids in the green bin. We sometimes put the pot into an ice bath in the sink to cool the liquid faster if we’re short on time.

Cover and cool in the fridge overnight.

Reserve the fat on top the next morning. Be sure to save it for matzoh balls.

Divvy up the chicken stock. You can freeze it for later like we do using Ziploc screw top containers. It’s the perfect amount for the two.


A note about freezing the broth: don’t be tempted to add in cooked chicken pieces or veggies or even matzo balls; it can all tend to go mushy and cloud the broth if you freeze it together with the soup.Below you can see the towering results; well worth the effort for liquid gold!

If you keep the freezer well ‘stocked’ (pun intended) you can enjoy chicken soup whenever you have a hankering for some good ‘ol comfort food. Just add some fresh veggies and embellish with matzo balls (recipe to come)!

Recipe details

  • 12  Servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 6 Hours Total time: 6 hr 15 min
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Ingredients

Old Fashioned Chicken Soup

  • Three packages of chicken bones (totalling about 3+ pounds)
  • 1 breast or leg with skin (about a pound)
  • Two small onions, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
  • 3 sprigs rosemary or two cubes of frozen from the garden (optional)
  • 2 celery stocks, cut in pieces
  • 3 carrots, cut in pieces
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and cut in half (or a piece of a large one)
  • Small parsnip, cut in pieces
  • 1 large bay leaf (or 2 small ones)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper – or you can use whole black peppercorns (easily removed when strained). If you use ground black pepper, just be aware that it will leave black specs in the soup.
  • Bowl of cold water with large spoon
  • Approximately 18 – 20 cups of water (enough to cover all the ingredients in the pot)

Instructions


Cut all the veggies.
Place the bones in the pot.
My grandmother always removed the skin from the breast or leg first but still added it to the pot. I think she did that to make it easier to remove and cut up the chicken after the first two hours of cooking.
Pour cold water into the pot until it’s just covering everything (I usually use about 18 – 20 cups for the size of the pot and ingredients I’m using).
Bring the water to a boil over high heat and move onto the next step to skim the soup.
Turn the heat down to a rolling simmer and then skim off the solids and foam that floats on the surface using a spoon dipped in water.
Keep a bowl of water on the side to transfer all the particulates to. It takes about 20 minutes or so of skimming before the soup is clear and the rest of the ingredients can be added.
Once the liquid is clear, the aromatics go into the pot along with the seasonings. Adjust the water if necessary so everything is still covered.
Cover the pot with a lid, but leave it slightly open.
Make sure at this point that the bubbles are just barely breaking at the surface; turn the heat down further if necessary and check the soup every once in a while to make sure it’s not cooking too rapidly or over-evaporating. After two hours, take out the chicken breast, or leg, and remove the meat from the bones. Put the bones back into the soup. Once the chicken has cooled, you can cut it into pieces or shred it to put back into the soup the next day (or use in a salad). You can store the meat in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.
Simmer the soup for a total of 4 – 6 hours; I find that the longer and slower it cooks, the more collagen-rich the broth gets. If you notice the liquid over-reducing during that time you can add a few cups of water back in.
Strain the liquid through a fine meshed strainer into an empty pot. Allow the broth and solids to cool down to room temperature and then discard the solids in the green bin. We sometimes put the pot into an ice bath in the sink to cool the liquid faster if we’re short on time.
Leave it in the fridge overnight so the fat solidifies on the surface. The next morning, take the soup out of the fridge and remove the solidified chicken fat from the top. Reserve this fat to make Matzo balls (recipe to follow next month).

Tips

  • Note that at any time during the cooking, if the liquid evaporates too much you can add a cup or two of water back in, which my grandmother often did (but don’t overdo it or you’ll dilute the flavour!)

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