If anyone in your family is feeling under the weather, chicken soup is the ultimate pick-me-up. It’s cheap too, because this recipe uses the chicken carcasses your butcher usually throws away. The key is to use homemade stock, which adds a depth and complexity (and richness, thanks to the gelatin that the chicken bones impart) that no stock cube can hope to match.
It freezes well too, so you can make a large batch, scaling up from this recipe as necessary. Just pour into clean takeaway containers straight from the saucepan or let it cool a little before ladling into freezer bags.
How to make the chicken stock
1. Put the carcasses in a roasting tin and roast in a hot oven until they start to brown.
2. Take them out of the oven and put them in a large saucepan, breaking them into pieces if you need to.
3. Rinse the roasting tin out with boiling water, pouring the pan juices and water into the saucepan with the chicken.
4. Add the roughly chopped carrots, celery, onion, peppercorns and bay leaves.
5. Cover and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for at least two hours.
6. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Sieve the stock into a large bowl or jug and leave to cool in the fridge. Pull all the chicken from the carcasses and store in a covered bowl or Tupperware container until needed.
How to make chicken soup
1. Take a couple of litres of the chicken stock and boil in a saucepan until it has reduced by half.
2. Add the shredded chicken meat and heat through for a couple of minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and add the cream. Stir well, season to taste and serve immediately.
You can boil the stock down to make the most delicious chicken gravy in the world, although you do need about six litres to make a decent gravy boat’s worth! You don’t add anything else; just boil it down until it is as thick and tasty as you like it.
You can freeze both the stock and the meat at stage 6. It can then be defrosted and used to make a chicken risotto or casserole instead of soup.
Visit our soup section for more delicious recipes for soups and stews, including recipes for Vietnamese chicken noodle pho, chicken and rice soup and Greek lemon and chicken soup (avgolemono).