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Home Style Chicken Soup
By Charlie Burke

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I cannot recall the last time we have bought canned or prepared soup. We
usually have the makings for chicken soup in our refrigerator or freezer because
we roast one or two chickens most weeks. We have one meal of roast chicken
and then use the remaining meat for sandwiches, chicken salad or in soup. The
carcass is always broken up and made into a rich stock, which is used for sauces
and, most often, soups. Our freezer always has bags of chicken stock which can
be the base for many different recipes and soups.

We have done recipes for
roast chicken in this column, and making stock from
the bones is easy and yields stock much superior to any one can buy. The term
“stock” indicates that it is made from cooked bones, while “broth” is made from
raw meat boiled in water, as in our recipe for
poached chicken. Either makes
excellent soup, but stock is usually more intense than broth.

This week, we will give an easy recipe for stock, along with one for a rich home
style chicken soup. Both are easy and economical, typical of frugal New
England cooking, and offer flavor unequaled by commercial preparations. The
stock is made with bones, aromatic vegetables, herbs and seasoning. Soups
vary, using vegetables of the season, and thus offer many variations, depending
upon what is fresh in the market and the cook’s preferences. I like to roast
carrots with the chicken and use those not served with the roasted chicken
dinner in the soup. Usually, a starch, such as rice or pasta is added, but many
times we add only a mix of vegetables. I prefer to cook the pasta or rice in water
or extra stock ahead of time so that the soup’s stock is not absorbed in the
cooking. For the same reason, I do not store soup with the starch which absorbs
the liquid and loses its texture.

Use these recipes as guides to make your own variations, and serve your family
and guests these fresh and healthy soups which are full of flavor. Add
uncooked scallions, a dab of tomato paste or a tablespoon of soy sauce for a
different taste.

Stock:

Bones from a roasted chicken which have been stripped of meat.*
1 medium carrot, washed and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, including skin, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 sprigs parsley, stems and leaves chopped
1 teaspoon pepper corns
2 bay leaves
2-3 whole cloves
Water to cover bones by 2 inches (approximately 2 quarts)
*If using bones from 2 chickens, double ingredients and add water to cover by 2
inches.

Place bones into a stock pot, along with all other ingredients. Cover with water.

Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and lower to a simmer, cooking for 3
hours or more. Skin the foam from the pot from time to time (I often leave the
pot on a low simmer over night).

Strain the liquid, cool and refrigerate. Remove the congealed fat from the stock
and refrigerate or freeze. If you need the stock before it has been cooled, skim
the fat from the surface with a large spoon or use a large ladle lowered below
the surface fat and lifted straight up. The surface fat will run off the full ladle,
leaving little or no fat in the ladle.

Soup, 4 servings:

4-6 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped into ½ - 1 inch pieces
2 cups cooked vegetables, such as roasted or boiled carrots, sautéed spinach or
chicory or whatever is available fresh. (Raw vegetables can also be cooked in
the boiling stock before adding other ingredients.)
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or sage (optional)
1 ½ cups cooked white rice, small pasta, brown rice or wild rice
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Cook the rice or pasta according to directions or use precooked. Bring stock to a
boil and add vegetables. Add herbs and reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken
and starch, stirring until heated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use a slotted
spoon to divide chicken, vegetables and the starch among soup bowls and pour
liquid into the bowls.

Homemade soups have rich flavor, are a great way to get your kids to eat
vegetables, and have less sodium than the usually unhealthy levels in canned
soups. So don’t throw away the bones from your roasted chicken -– make stock
and give your family great tasting soups which are healthy and inexpensive.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Chicken Soup, Home Style
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