I’m thinking of Chicken Soup
Why? Because it is the ultimate comfort food. Chicken noodle soup is one of Campbell soups top sellers probably because it’s a go to for eaters seeking a little coziness (or even health). And chicken broth is the basis of a lot of different soups from your basic Chicken Noodle, to various Thai and Asian soups. Plus your broth can goose up a lot of recipes that call for plain water.
But that canned version is a pale imitation of what a good grandma (or great-grandma) style chicken soup can be. It takes some work, but you’re not doing anything right now are you? And besides it really is easy. Takes time yes, but easy.
First of all, you instapot and pressure cooker owners have a valuable piece of equipment in service of soup. Because those tools help lock in flavor. But you still have work to do like the rest of us.
“Rule” no. 1 – Save your scraps, chicken bones, chicken skin, chicken carcasses, celery stems, onion skins, carrot tops. All that stuff you would ordinarily throw away (my secret…. don’t be grossed out…. I save and use chicken bones that have been eaten. Cooking them sterilizes them). If you are not going to use these right away, freeze em.
“Rule” no 2 – You will buy and use chicken parts you’ve never dreamed of. Backs, necks, gizzards, wings (some of you I’m sure dream of wings). These parts may be had at the butcher counter. Or GASP, in the frozen section of PET FOOD! (really). Two pounds (2 lbs) for each pot of broth/stock if you have scraps, 3 pounds if you don’t.
“Rule” no 3 – You will be concentrating flavors by re-cooking your chicken broth at least once over. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Stock aka Broth
Step 1: Fill your stockpot, Instapot or Pressure cooker with the chicken bones, vegetable scraps, and an additional 1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken parts as above (or 3 lbs if you have no leftover chicken scraps). Add some coarsely chopped celery, carrots and onion. For those that need measurements – 1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks. A bit of salt and pepper.
Step 2: Add water if this is your first go around making stock. 6-8 cups should do it (don’t exceed your manufacturers recommended amount – my pressure cooker has a ‘not to exceed’ line for example). Process per directions or put on the stove top and let it simmer away for a couple of hours.
Step 3: Strain. Keep the golden good stuff. Freeze it if you’re not ready for the next step. Refrigeration is fine if you’re going to use it in few days for Step 4. I find it will take you a bit of time to gather your supplies again so freezing is best.
Step 4: Repeat from Step 1 through Step 3, this time using the stock you made previously. You may need to a little bit more water. When you’re done, taste and adjust seasoning. When you are through with Step 4 you are ready to make soup.
Optional: to condense flavor even more, do this again.
For best results, use good chicken. But even Costco roast chicken makes a pretty good stock. You can also see if your butcher or grocer has chicken scraps. After all those boneless skinless breasts used to have bones.
Shortcut: If you don’t have homemade stock to begin with, you can jump start things by using a good canned chicken broth. I like Swanson salt free myself but other brands are good too. You’ll need the equivalent of 6-8 cups (so 3-5 cans of Swansons).
If your stock is too fatty or greasy, let it cool way down. The fat will congeal and you can just scrape or spoon it off and throw it away. The fat is the lighter, greasy stuff that floats to the top, it gets solid when cold.
Take all that luscious stock you’ve been making and hording. For 8 cups of stock your choice of the following veg (please adjust the veg to your taste – I like lots of vegetables)
1 onion, medium chop
2-4 ribs of celery, medium slices
2-3 carrots, medium slice
1 turnip, peeled and chopped (medium to small)
1 -2 parsnips same
1 rutabaga (not too big!), maybe ½ cup total
½ celeriac or celery root (again not too big maybe ½ cup total)
Bring to a boil and simmer til the veggies are soft. This might take a ½ hour or so keep tasting. It really depends on the size of your veg. Ad the seasonings of your choice. Salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram. If you’re not use to using herbs use a light touch to begin with. Don’t have these. Don’t worry. It will taste fine without them.
Oh, you want to add chicken to that? Well, let’s back up.
There are a couple of ways to add chicken to your soup (and potentially up the flavor). You can get a whole chicken and poach it (without the vegetables). Poaching, which involves bringing the broth up to a gentle simmer, will take about 45 min – 1 hour. Use a 4 lb chicken and 8 cups of broth. Test for done-ness (I find an instaread thermometer best for poultry). Take out the chicken, add your veg and cook as above adding the chicken you have shredded off the bone just before you are ready to eat.
You can also poach chicken pieces. Breasts are nice this way. You can either poach whole breasts with a technique similar to a whole chicken. Add the breasts to the broth, bring to a simmer and keep on a simmer for about 45 min – 1 hr depending on the size of the breasts. Or slice your breasts into strips and simmer gently for 6 minutes. Same deal, take out the chicken, add and cook the veg and then add back the chicken.
Finally you can just buy another rotisserie chicken, get the good stuff off the bones, and add it to your soup!
Just be sure to save the bones for the next go round.
Now don’t get me started on home-made noodles.