How do you make chicken soup?
I do have a soft spot for canned chicken noodle soup from Campbell’s, but Jon Shook, a Los Angeles-based chef who will be here for the Austin Food & Wine Festival, recently convinced me that I’ve been making homemade chicken noodle soup wrong my whole life.
Despite reading over and over that you aren’t supposed to boil chickens over high heat to make broth, I’ve always cranked up the heat when I have leftover chicken carcasses. I rarely started with a whole bird and almost never took the time to simmer it slowly.
After chatting with Jon and his chef partner Vinny Dotolo for today’s lead story about why chicken doesn’t have to be boring, I made the most divine chicken soup according to his directions, following the most important rule: Do not boil the bird.
Yes, you need to simmer the chicken in order to draw out all those yummy flavors, but as soon as the bubbles start to come to the surface, reduce the heat so that the liquid doesn’t come to a hard boil. Why? A violent boil causes the skin, fat and collagen to disintegrate into the liquid, which can make a cloudy, greasy stock.
If you cook the bird over low heat, not all of the fat in the chicken skin will render out, so you’ll pull it off the bird after the meat has cooked. Also, keep a strainer nearby so you can skim any foam or scum that gathers at the top.
Jon’s Chicken Soup
1 (3-4 lb.) whole chicken (giblets and innards removed)
2 to 3 large brown or yellow onions, peeled and divided
8 to 10 carrots (roughly equal to quantity of celery), peeled and divided
1 head of celery, divided
1 bay leaf
1 bunch flat loose-leaf parsley
1 bag wide egg noodles
Kosher salt to taste
Place whole chicken in a 12 quart pot. Cover the chicken with an inch of cold water. Chop half of the onions, carrots and celery into 1-inch chunks. Add vegetables to the pot, as well as the bay leaf and about a dozen sprigs of parsley. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat so that the liquid is just simmering. Cook for roughly 1 hour or until chicken is falling off the bone. Strain and toss the cooked vegetables.
Let the chicken cool enough until you can handle it and then pick the meat off the chicken. Put broth back in a clean pot over medium heat. Cut the other half of the onion, carrots and celery into pieces that are about 1/4 inch or smaller. Chop remaining parsley leaves for garnish.
Add the onions, carrots and celery to the broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pulled chicken and simmer for another 20 minutes. In a separate pot, cook noodles following the directions on the bag. When done, run the noodles under cold water but keep the noodles separate from the soup. Once the vegetables are tender, add salt to taste. Serve soup in bowls, adding the noodles to each bowl. Serves 6 to 8.
— From Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo