Setting sails for soup

Joined Dec 7, 2009
My enthusiasm is intoxicating, is it not!

My next venture is a simple chicken soup from the whole bird using recipe with a 3 lb bird,carrots, celery onion, and bouillion granules.

I heard you should pull the meat of after a couple hours so it does not get too soft, I will admit it was Mom that told me that, just dont call me a Nancy Boy.

I heard from my brother, the chef, you should crack the bones to let out the marrow into the soup. I will do that when I take off the meat.

I heard, from reliable sources, you could cook the soup all night long. Given the choice of 20 hours, 12 hours, or 6 hours which would yield the best results.

Any information leading to the successful execution of this recipe would be greatly appreciated.:thumb:
Joined May 26, 2001
Skip the granules -- all they'll add is chemicals and salt. If you've got a good chicken, you'll get the flavor you need. Besides, if you add salt too soon, by the time the soup is done, it might be too salty. But you might want to add a few whole peppercorns.

Listen to your Mom. :lol: In fact, you should pull out the bird as soon as it's cooked through, usually in less than an hour even at a simmer. Take everything off the bones, store the meat in the fridge, and throw the rest back into the pot, skin, bones, and all. Yes, cracking the bones is nice, but not necessary. (It's more important for a meat stock.) What you really want to get into the soup is the cartilage at the ends of the bones. This will give your soup body.

I hope that all this time you've been cooking it at a simmer, not a boil. And skimming off the gunk that rises to the surface. That way you'll have a nice, clear broth when it's done.

Six hours for chicken soup? :eek: Twelve? :eek: :eek: Twenty? :eek: :eek: :eek: Three is usually sufficient. Then you can strain out and discard all the solids (bones, skin, and vegs), skim off the fat (easiest if you chill the liquid; the fat rises to the top and you can scoop it off. It won't be solid, but it will be removable.), and return the liquid to the stove to gently boil and reduce until it tastes right to you. Then you can add salt as needed.

BTW: years ago we had quite a vigorous, um, debate about this. :p If you look for posts by Scott123, you should be able to find it. Scott's a great guy (I've since met him), but frankly, I still think he was just plain wrong! :lol:

And yes, your enthusiasm is GREAT!!! Keep it up, and you'll both learn and have lots of fun. Not to mention be able to feed yourself and your friends and family really well for not much money. :D
Joined Dec 7, 2009
Thank you so much Suzanne, I appreciate your help.

I just got back with an antibiotic free chicken so that should help, usually I go for the cheapest but it may not be worth the couple bucks you save.

I will heed your advice.

I also have going now Salmon bisque and Quinoa and black beans for projects.

This group is both informative and inspirational.

Merry Christmas
Joined Nov 1, 2009
Mmmm, chicken soup. I do a pretty good chicken matzoball soup. I might have to do that this weekend. Suzanne, you are the bomb when it comes to cooking advice. :thumb:When I do my soup again, I will definitely incorporate your suggestions.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Suzanne has pretty well covered it, Kevin.

The thing to understand is that chicken soup, in any of its configurations, is a two stage process. First you make the stock. Then you use the stock, with other ingredients, to make the final soup.

I'd be interested in what makes your "cook it overnight" sources reliable, cuz it doesn't sound like they are. Long cooking like that is usually done to break down a protein with lots of connective tissue. For instance, you could braise oxtails that long, at very low heat. But it's not necessary for most things (even braises). And certainly not for a chicken soup.

When using whole chickens I usually break them down first, because they're easier to handle that way. Then pretty much proceed as Suzanne outlines. I pull the pieces after about 40 minutes simmering, remove the meat, and return everything else to the pot. Total cooking time is about 2 1/2 hours. A little longer certainly doesn't hurt. But no need to get excessive.

Once you've got your stock, you're ready to make soup. If you'll be using vegetables, you cook them separately, rather than using the ones that gave their all making the stock. Ditto any grain additions, such as rice or pasta. And, of course, you'll return what is essentially poached chicken to the pot. Heat everything through, adjust the seasonings, and you're good to go.

One thing that seems to confuse people. When chicken stock cools down, it turns gelatinous. It's supposed to be that way! So don't think you've done something wrong when that happens.
Joined May 29, 2006
The reliable source that told you cook all night long is not that reliable. You are making a soup not nursing a stockpot.
Cracking the bones in chicken does not do that much, as chicken bones are small and soft. Beef shin bones or large bones of any kind yes, cracking helps derive more flavor, faster. As far as pulling meat, when you pull out the chicken,let it cool slightly pull the meat and throw bones and mirepoix in. How about herbs and spices?
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Chicken soup from scratch is best made from scratch chicken stock; and chicken stock is best made with wings, backs, carcasses, etc., rather than a whole chicken.

What you're talking about is using the reserved poaching liquid from (wait for it) poaching a chicken, along with the reserved carcass to make a stock -- and from that stock (which is not rich as a purpose made stock would be), make a soup.

Don't take all those caveats as criticisms -- they aren't really. It's just the way it is. What you're doing is a quick soup that can still be very good; and for lack of a better description we might as well call it Chinese style chicken soup because it's a very common way of making chicken soup in Chinese-American homes. The thing of it is, no meal is a meal without tong (soup), so let's smile and go forth bravely, heads high.

There are two keys to making chicken soup. Start with the idea that a chicken is a nearly, but not quite, perfect thing. One key to making soup is to get rid of all the undesirable stuff. The other key is to not do anything to mess it up.

You can break your 3# chicken into serving pieces if you like, or leave it whole. Remove any visible pieces of fat and reserve for another purpose or discard.

Submerge the chicken in a kettle in about two quarts of water. No salt, no vegetables, no nothing. Just chicken and water.

And heat. Turn the flame to high, and bring the water to a hot simmer. If it happens to boil for a minute, no problem. But that's the only time you can get away with it. Turn the heat to medium-low so that the water is it a simmer.

Scum will rise to the surface after a couple of minutes. Skim the scum and discard it. After a few minutes more, more scum will rise. Skim and discard again. Allow a few more minutes, and if more scum appears get rid of it.

Once the chicken goes five minutes without producing scum, add your "aromatics." Those are one onion, one stalk of celery (with leaves), and one carrot -- roughly chopped. If you like, you can roast the aromatics in a hot oven or saute until they get a little color. The precooking will make everything taste better, but isn't absolutely necessary.

Also add a dozen peppercorns and 1/2 a bay leaf.

Simmer until the chicken is poached -- about thirty minutes after it first hit the simmer. Leave the aromatics, bay leaf and peppercorn in the pot, while you remove the chicken. Take the meat from the bones. Return all the bones and the skin to the kettle, and continue to simmer for another hour.

Taste a piece of carrot. It will have all of the flavor cooked out of it, just like the rest of the aromatics and the bones. Since they have nothing left to offer, strain the aromatics from the liquid and allow it to cool slightly. Meanwhile, clean the kettle.

When the liquid is cool enough to handle, and the fat has had enough time to float to the top, partially defat it (leave just a little) by skmming or using a "fat separator." No matter how good you are at skimming, you're guaranteed to leave enough fat, so just do your best. If you're using a separator, go for about 90% clean.

Congratulations! You've got yourself a stock.

Return the strained, defatted stock to the clean kettle and simmer uncovered in order to reduce and intensify the flavor. You may use a bouquet garni if you like.

When the soup tastes good, add whatever fresh vegetables you like, and a little salt. (To my mind, it's the salt which turns it from a stock to a soup.) Simmer until the aromatics are crisp-tender. Remove the bouquet garni and adjust the salt so the soup is properly seasoned.

Return as much of the poached chicken to the soup as you like; you may also add some cooked rice, noodles and/or dumplings. Simmer another minute or two until all is heated through.

Joined Dec 7, 2009
That last one was really interesting. I wish I could write something in return for all the time you have taken to answer my post.

I really should get a loose leaf binder and print these out to keep for reference.

I am really having a fun time with this new hobby and you fine folks are at the heart of it.


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