Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Homemade Chicken Soup

My toddler's favorite bowl of chicken soup:
with added frozen green beans and brown rice
Chicken soup is my toddler's favorite meal.  He could eat it everyday and he usually does.  I switch up the grains, pasta and veggies accordingly.  I probably make on average 2 pots of stock/broth every week.  I either make it on the stove-top (this post reflects that version) or I make it in my Thermomix (that version will come in a later post).  

I like that we always have chicken broth as a flavor base for more other soups and meals. Nothing for dinner one night?  No worries, just add some buckwheat noodles to the broth, add your chicken back in, throw in whatever veggies you have in the fridge, and you have a nutritious meal in no time.  In the winter, I like to add some fresh ginger and garlic, while the broth is simmering,   My husband and I then add some cayenne pepper, black pepper and fresh lemon juice to our own bowls.  

stock simmering while starting a pot of Bolognese 
I like to make a batch of broth or stock on the weekends at the same time as I make sauce or a braised meat dish. That way, I just ladle the fresh broth/stock when needed. Having homemade chicken broth/stock in the refrigerator or freezer cuts out having to read the ingredient labels of the store-bought variety in the grocery store.  And if you make the broth by poaching whole pieces of chicken (just ask butcher to cut whole chicken up for you!)  you have meat to use in different dishes throughout the week.  Visit: http://searchwarp.com/swa218164.htm 
to learn more about the difference between stock and broth. 

It is so easy to make a batch of stock or broth and then freeze for later use. I learned how to make chicken soup from my mother.  Since I do not have my own set of instructions, here is my adapted version of how I make stock from marthastewart.com.  You can go to her website and enter both "chicken broth" and "chicken stock" to better understand the difference.

What you need (quantity varies depending on how much you want to make):
Whole pieces of chicken, bone-in and skin on.  My mom calls whole cut-up bird a "pullet"
Carrots cut in 1 inch pieces.  I like to cut on the diagonal
Celery cut in 1 inch pieces.  I like to cut on the diagonal 
1-2 bay leaves
Bunch of dill
1 Garlic clove
You can add peppercorns and chunks of onion for additional flavor

What to do:
Combine all ingredients in a stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches.

Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook chicken until no longer pink in center and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat (avoiding bone) registers 160 degrees.  If adding rice, add towards the end.

Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet; arrange in a single layer, and let cool. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve (lined with a damp paper towel). 

Once cooled, refrigerate for up to 2 days (I have heard that up to a week is ok, not sure!), or freeze for up to 3 months.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones. Shred with forks (see above) or chop chicken, as desired. 

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Poached Chicken Breasts and Chicken Broth - Martha Stewart Recipes Read more at Marthastewart.com: Basic Chicken Stock - Martha Stewart Recipes 

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