Basic Guide to Chicken Soup

Older, larger birds, such as the 5-7 pound roasters, make the best soups. An older bird will have developed more of the rich, intense chickeny flavor than the younger, milder-flavored broilers or Cornish hens. I’ve made soup from broilers and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as good as it could be.

_Use roaster parts if you want to save time. They cook faster and are excellent when you need only a small amount of broth. The richest flavor, by the way, comes from the muscles that are exercised most, which happen to be the dark meat muscles. All parts will make satisfactory soup, but the legs, thighs and necks provide the fullest flavor.

_For clear, golden broth, do not add liver. It turns stock cloudy. And avoid a greenish cast by using only parsley stems and the white parts of leeks or scallions.

_As the stock cooks down, foam will float to the top. Skim it off, or strain it out through double cheesecloth when the stock is complete. Tie herbs and greens in cheesecloth as a “bouquet garni,” so you won’t inadvertently remove them during the skimming.

_Always simmer stock over low to medium heat. It’s not a good idea to boil the stock for the same reason it’s not a good idea to boil coffee; too much of the flavor would boil away into the air. _Leftover vegetables and those past their prime are good pureed in cream soups. When thickening such recipes with egg, prevent curdling by stirring a cup of hot soup first into egg, then back into soup. Also, be careful to keep the soup from boiling once you’ve added the egg.

_Most soups develop better flavor if you’ll store them, covered, in the refrigerator for a day or two. To seal in the flavor while you’re storing the soup, don’t remove the fat that’s on top. When you’re ready to serve the soup you can lift the congealed fat off as a sheet. To remove the last particles of fat, place unscented paper towel on the surface. Draw towel to one side and remove.

_When freezing stock, allow 1/2- to 1-inch head room in containers so soup can expand. Freeze some in quart-sized or larger containers for use in soups. Ladle the rest into ice cube trays or muffin cups for adding to vegetables, sauces, or gravies. Freeze and then transfer frozen stock cubes to a plastic bag or freezer container and keep frozen until ready to use.

_Soup may be stored in the refrigerator two or three days or frozen for three to four months. When reheating, make sure to bring the broth to a boil. Soups enriched with eggs are, unfortunately, not good candidates for reheating; they’re apt to curdle.

Chicken Recipes – The Perdue Chicken Cookbook

Copyright (C) by Mitzi Perdue – Used with Permission

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