Chicken Soup: Liquid Gold

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While colds are on the mind, someone over on our new reader blogs has asked for a chicken soup recipe. The best chicken soup starts with amazing chicken stock, and I adore the recipe from Lauren Groveman of Larchmont. She’s even got instructional videos on her web site.

This really is the best recipe. For chicken soup, just poach some breast and shred them, and add egg noodles and the vegetables of your choosing. It’s all about the broth:

Lauren Groveman’s Liquid Gold
Special Equipment:
16-quart tall stockpot
Skimmer
Large sturdy colander, preferably stainless steel
2-cup ladle
8-quart mixing bowl
Fine-mesh sieve
Assorted sizes of heavy-duty freezer containers with tight-fitting lids

For the stock:
4 to 6 pounds assorted bony chicken parts with skin left intact (backs, necks wing tips, feet etc.) and, if available, a broken-up cooked chicken or turkey carcass with meat removed
Salt as needed
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 cups boiling water
Cold water to cover
1 large stewing hen (optional) with neck and gizzard (no liver), well rinsed
4 large carrots, scrubbed and sliced
4 stalks celery, cleaned and cut up with leaves
3 large leeks, trimmed, cleaned and coarsely cut up
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
A few sprigs parsley
Generous pinch crumbled dried thyme (optional)

To roast chicken parts: Preheat the oven to 450. Sprinkle dry chicken parts lightly with salt and toss with 2 onions. Scatter chicken (skin side up) and onions on 2 shallow baking sheets. Roast in the hot oven until both onions and chicken are deeply golden and caramelized, about 30 minutes. (If you’re roasting on two racks, position the racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and switch the baking sheets after half of the prescribed baking time.)

To prepare stock: Remove baking sheets from oven and scrape all the browned ingredients into a 16-quart stockpot. Place baking sheet directly on the stove burner and pour in some boiling water to release any caramelized bits of chicken and onions from the bottom of the sheet. If necessary, bring the water to a simmer over low heat while you scrape the bottom with the flat edge of a wooden spatula. Pour this liquid into stockpot. Add remaining ingredients with enough cold water to generously cover solids by at least 2 inches and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with the cover ajar for 2 hours, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Carefully remove the hen (if using) and, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat for another use. Return the skin and bones of hen to the simmering broth. Continue to simmer with the cover ajar for 1 hour. Uncover and continue to simmer for another 1 to 3 hours to reduce and concentrate the flavors. During this time, occasionally press down on the solids to extract any remaining goodness.

To cool and strain stock: Remove pot from heat and allow stock to cool with the solids. Place a large sturdy colander over an 8-quart bowl and strain stock into the bowl while you discard the solids from the colander. Clean stockpot and strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve back into the pot to remove any small particles of solids. Pour strained stock back into the cleaned bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate stock for 24 to 48 hours to allow the fat to solidify and rise to the top of the bowl.

To defat and store stock: Scoop off the thick yellow layer of congealed fat on top of the chilled gelatinous stock. At this point you can either use the pure stock for a given recipe, reduce it further to concentrate the flavors (see next step) or divide it among labeled heavy freezer containers to store in the freezer for future use. Chicken stock will freeze perfectly for at least 6 months in a freezer with little temperature fluctuation. The stock can also be refrigerated for 2 days before using. Always bring thawed stock to a rolling boil before eating.

Yield: about 7 quarts.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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