Good Ol' Fashioned Chicken Soup

I've developed this recipe over many years of my family getting sick and needing a good chicken soup for recovery.  Now, the broth from this soup has become a staple stock that I use in every aspect of day-to-day cooking.  As it is now flu and cold season, and I have already seen those around me “go down,” Cleo suggested I post this prior to a festive holiday recipe. This makes a whole big pot!

Shopping list: 3-4lb whole chicken 1 large white onion, cleaned with the skin on 2-3 carrots (2 large or 3 medium) 2-3 celery ribs 1-2 parsnips (1 large or 2 small) 1-2 turnips (1 large or 2 small) 3-4 mushrooms 1 garlic clove, cleaned with the skin on 10 whole peppercorns 5 whole juniper berries Very generous pinch (or 2) of kosher salt Water Cheesecloth

What & how to do it: Using a large, heavy bottomed stockpot…

Step #1: Wash all of your veggies and peel any that need peeling.  Cut them into big chunks- it’s ok to leave some whole- and drop them into your large stockpot.  For the onion and garlic, don’t even bother peeling, just drop them into your large stockpot too.  Of course you will want to peel the dirty skin layer off the onion, and rinse away any dirt, but you can leave the rest of the clean skin on; this help to keep the onion intact.  If this grosses you out, peel it, but leave the root end on so the onion stays together.

Step #2: After dropping the layer of veggies into your pot, rinse your chicken inside and out, and sit it on top of the veggie layer. If your chicken comes with the extra giblets, you can add those to the soup for extra flavor as well. (I sometimes stuff the onion and carrots into the chicken cavity if there isn’t enough room to add in water once all of the veggies and chicken are in the pot.)

Step #3: Add the peppercorns, juniper berries and salt.

Step #4: Cover all the ingredients in your pot with water to ½” below the top rim.  Cook on medium-low for 1 hour, and then turn the heat down to low for as long as 4 hours!  You will likely need to adjust the lid off to the side to let steam escape or it will hiss and make a mess as the soup boils.  The longer it cooks, the deeper the broth becomes.  You may even need to add more water if the broth evaporates too much.  If I want a super duper rich stock, I’ll add a previous stock to the soup instead of using water.

Step #5: Once your soup is done, let it cool a bit (so you don’t get burned!) and remove the chicken and the veggies and process*. Then cover the very top layer of the broth with a double sheet of cheesecloth, cut to fit over the soup but let it hang over the edge of your pot so you have something to grab the next day.  Put the lid back on and refrigerate over night.  The next day when you take off the lid, you will see the chicken fat solidified onto the cloth, and all you have to do is lift it off and perhaps spoon away any residual fat laying on the surface.

*Processing is simply de-boning the chicken meat and shredding or chopping it as you like for adding back into the broth with the veggies.  At this point, you are ready to add any ingredients back into the broth. You can re-season with salt and pepper after re-heating and tasting, and then get creative!  For a classic take, there’s always little pasta stars or rice. For a fun Mexican take, you can add in a pinch of cumin, a handful of chopped cilantro, chunks of avocado and tomato, and of course, don’t forget the chicken!

I hope you don’t get sick!  But if you do, I promise this will help!!

Happy Winter!

Jane