Thursday, May 13, 2021

Life & Style

Chicken Soup? Make Mine Neat

Sometimes you make something so easy, and so often, you assume everyone does so, too. That is me with chicken soup. I do buy those quart-sized cartons of chicken soup for the pantry. Sometimes it is low-sodium (which is often a little more expensive) or low-fat (even if we are not sure how low fat is really low). But my mother never bought canned soup, primarily because she only made two kinds of soup—chicken soup from scratch or cabbage soup, made with water.

The smell of the house when she made cabbage soup made be gag.

I grew up drinking chicken soup. My mother probably added salt and she did not skim up the fat. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember anyone talking about a low-salt or low-fat diets and we didn’t even know the word “cholesterol.” In our house we drank it “neat,” as if it were scotch. My father and I fought over the warm, left-over carrots. My mother made chicken sandwiches for us the next few days. It was pretty bland, since the only spices in our kitchen were salt, pepper, and paprika.

I began making chicken soup when I got married.

Like my mother, I use a fat, 3 ½-pound chicken. The ingredients are simple. I added more carrots because I love the left-over carrots, cold, still tasting like chicken soup. I add a little salt but more pepper, because I love pepper. My husband thought the leftover chicken was bland; of course it was, all the flavor was in the soup. But I like chicken sandwiches with mayonnaise, which is a bit salty. I also make chicken salad with onions, celery, dried mustard, and garlic salt. I also make enchiladas or tacos with the leftover chicken.

So, the soup is bland. It tastes like chicken soup. But here’s the thing: The soup becomes the stock or broth for all the other soups you make. Taste that home-made soup; then taste the stock from that can or carton. Isn’t that amazing?

So make this soup.

I still eat it neat.

But you can add chopped chicken, or rice, or noodles, or more fresh vegetables. The ones you cooked the chicken with are dreary; dump them out, unless your pets like it with their kibble. I put the soup through a sieve twice. Then I freeze it for all the soups, stews, braises, or for the liquid in your Instant Pot.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at

Chicken Soup and Broth

adapted from Italian Holiday Cooking by Michele Scicolone (William Morrow, New York, 2001)

Serves 6 to 8 (makes about 3 quarts of broth)



1 chicken

(about 3 ½ pounds, a big one is okay if your pot holds it))

1 pound (about) chicken legs and thighs

4 to 6 medium carrots, cut into big chunks

2 celery ribs, cut into big chunks

2 onions, peeled and quartered

6 sprigs flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

6 to 10 peppercorns

salt to taste

(I begin tasting and salting about 1 hour before the soup

is done)


1. Remove the liver and gizzards for another use. Rinse chicken and chicken parts well. Place in stock pot at least large enough to hold 6 quarts of liquid. Add 4 quarts (16 cups) cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat and cook for 30 to 60 minutes, skimming off the foam and any fat that rises to the surface.

2. Add vegetables, parsley, peppercorns and a little salt. Cook for 2 hours. (If you’ve skimmed off the foam during the first part of the cooking, you’ll hardly have to pay attention during this 2-hour period.) Let cool slightly.

3. Strain broth. Remove chicken from bones, discarding skin and bones. Pour the soup into a sieve twice. If you are serving the broth as soup, return to rinsed pot and add chicken, sliced fresh carrots, celery and onion and simmer until tender. If you only need the broth, reserve the chicken meat for another use.

4. Let soup or broth cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to proceed, scrape fat off surface if you like. I, however, don’t. Soup can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Lee White is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Lee at .

Reader Comments