A lot of people have difficulty making chicken soup from scratch. Many people rely on canned chicken broth or chicken bullion cubes in order to obtain a rich, flavorful chicken broth. This method leaves a processed taste in your mouth and is anything but real, homemade chicken soup, because the broth, simply, isn't homemade.
The secret to obtaining a rich, flavorful, homemade chicken broth without having to rely on bullion or canned chicken broth is to use UNCOOKED chicken WITHOUT pulling the chicken skin from the chicken pieces until after the soup has simmered. You want to cook the chicken (with skins) in the water you will be using for the broth, and there isn’t any other way around it.
Although many people may be under the impression that using the chicken skin to obtain a flavorful chicken broth is unhealthy, the fact of the matter is that canned chicken broth and bullion are both made from chicken fat (skin); however, there are always extra ingredients contained within these store-bought items: preservatives; yeast extract; dehydrated vegetables; sodium (glutamates).
If you use the chicken skin for chicken broth, not only are you omitting these undesirable ingredients (which is more healthy for you), but it costs less money to make the soup, and it is one less ingredient that you need to add--one that usually requires measuring.
Some people feel the need to eliminate the chicken skin entirely when making chicken soup, opting to use skinless, boneless chicken breasts and without using bullion or canned chicken broth. When people opt to use this method when making chicken soup, the result is a broth that is more like water with a slight hint of a chicken flavor, and this is anything but flavorful.
Recipe for Chicken Soup without Bullion or Canned Broth:
Must-have ingredients for homemade chicken soup:
Uncooked chicken with skins
The above ingredients are essential for a flavorful chicken broth and chicken soup. If you don’t have even one of these ingredients, don’t even bother making the soup.
Get out your large, five or six-quart sauce pot—the one with handles on each side—and don’t fill it up with water just yet.
I use five uncooked chicken thighs, and I pull off the skins from two of the thighs. Chicken thighs make for a wonderful, rich chicken broth. The more skins you leave on the chicken, the more rich your broth. My rule of thumb is that you can always add more water to the pot if you find the broth to be too thick, but you can’t add more flavor once the soup is done—the chicken skins are already in the trash, and even if you put the skins in the fridge, you will contaminate your chicken soup and/or have to re-cook the soup, which leaves you with over-cooked, mushy ingredients, especially the celery.
The onion is a must-have for its flavor, of course. I’m not too fond of onions, so I use one-chunk onion in the pot and will remove it once the soup has completed simmering. I also use two stems of green onions, sliced thinly. If you like onion, cut the chunk of onion into pieces, and you can always choose to add a stem or two of thinly-sliced green onions.
Cut up two or three cloves of garlic, very thin. Throw that into the pot.
You can use fresh tomatoes, cut up into bite-sized pieces, use a small can of whole- stewed tomatoes and squash them up with your hands, or you can use a combination of both. Put the tomatoes in the pot.
I use all of the celery leaves on a stalk of celery, plus one or two stalks, cut into bite-sized pieces. Throw that into the pot. The amount of celery that you use can vary, depending on how much celery you like in your soup; however, the celery leaves must be used.
Fill up your pot with water, about 2 inches from the top. Keep in mind that once you remove the chunk onion, and once you tear apart your chicken skins and remove the meat from the bone, you will need to add some more water. This is why you shouldn’t take off any more than two chicken skins. If you like your chicken broth rich, you may want to remove only one, perhaps even none, of the chicken skins.
Add a dash of salt and pepper, and put the pot on the stovetop. Bring it to a boil, and allow all of these ingredients to simmer for about 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
After you have simmered all of the ingredients for your chicken soup, remove the chunk onion, and throw it away. Remove the chicken, and allow it to cool; otherwise, you will end up burning your fingers.
Once the chicken has cooled, remove and discard the skins and tear up the meat into pieces. Throw the chicken pieces back into the pot. Add more water if needed, and bring the ingredients to a light simmer.
I add a handful of uncooked rice and a handful of uncooked pasta (I love stars or small elbows) once the soup begins to simmer again. If you use long pasta, like spaghetti or fettuccini, break it in half. Allow the soup to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
Now is the time when you add your vegetables, and what you use is entirely up to you. I like to use a partial bag of frozen Mexican vegetables (corn, broccoli, red peppers) and add additional fresh broccoli. Sometimes I add green or yellow squash, sometimes canned kidney beans, and sometimes raw carrots. Basically I add whatever I have on hand. Whatever you want or whatever you have, just add it. Keep an eye on your water to ingredients ratio. You don’t want to add so many ingredients that it is no longer a soup, but you want enough ingredients so that you get a mouthful of yumminess in every spoonful.
What's great about cooking chicken soup in the winter is that you can freeze it and have it for another rainy or cold day. There's really nothing better than having chicken soup when it's cold outside.
Whatever you will not eat in two days, store it away in the freezer for a later time. I usually use Tupperware of some sort and line the top of the chicken soup with cling wrap to prevent freezer burn.