Because geeks need comfort food too.
There are few things I find more comforting than a good hearty, homemade chicken soup. Be it during a cold snowy day (yes I’ve woken up to those, but not in the Bay Area) in the middle of a childhood cold, or simply because I’ve wanted something hot, warm, and savory, chicken soup has been the epitome of comfort food.
Followed closely by rice congee. But that’s another post.
Chicken soup is truly elevated when it is made with a truly rich homemade stock. To be fair, most soups are elevated when they’re made from homemade stock.
Thankfully I had this bag of frozen turkey bones, rich with meat that has been in the freezer for a couple of weeks so I was ready to go with getting started on making the base of the soup. After thawing for a day, it was time to get going.
For this application, I will be turning again to Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, a fantastic source for almost anything basic (and several things elaborate) that you would want to make.
I apologize, frozen and thawed roasted turkey bones aren’t the most attractive thing to look at. This is just over 40 ounces of bones and meat. The stock ratio is described as 3 parts water for every two parts of bones.
And this is what 40 ounces of meaty bones looks like when it is covered with 60 ounces of water. This is placed on low heat for at least two hours or up to six. We aren’t bringing it to a boil because the meat is already cooked and safe. If we were using raw chicken bones, that would be another story.
While waiting, it’s time to pull together what other ingredients you’d like to flavor your stock. I have a red onion, some basil flowers I just plucked off my basil to keep them from going to seed, a bay leave, some cloves of garlic and a few stems of thyme. I would definitely have added some carrots if I had them available. After the initial few hours of simmering, these are added in (I peeled the onion and chopped it into quarters) and the lot is simmered for another hour.
Yeah, it’s not the prettiest sight I’ll admit. Full of goodness though.
It’s markedly improved once strained however. This is a very interesting cloudy color I don’t usually get from stock, I am assuming it is because of all the meat I used.
You can’t have chicken soup without chicken
I also set up the veggies I would add to the soup: broccoli, cabbage, celery.
Add the chicken to the stock and bring to a boil.
As this cooks, skim the surface of the stock. Raw chicken does funky stuff to water.
Once the chicken is mostly cooked, lower to a simmer then season to taste.
Add the broccoli, then take your time adding the other vegetables. You want to cook this a bit longer than other items.
Cabbage is a bit more durable than celery so I added that next.
And when that begins to soften, add the celery, then continue to simmer until the celery is softened (but not disintegrated.)
Adjust seasoning if you need to, then serve piping hot. Goes great with some fresh baked (or oven reheated) bread.
Roasted Turkey Stock (adapted and modified from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio)
- Bones from a roasted turkey
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- Various Aromatics (bay leaf, fresh or dry herbs, peppercorns, garlic cloves, tomato paste, etc.)
- Salt, to taste (You might not need it)
- Place turkey bones in a large stock pot. If you have a scale, weigh the bones.
- Cover the bones with cold water. If you have a scale, add three parts water for every two parts of bones
- Set over low heat to bring the water to a simmer for at least two hours, up to six. Move the pot to the side if the water threatens to come to a boil.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and continue simmering for an hour, then strain.
- If storing for later, chill until ready to you. Once chilled, it is a great time to skim off the fat.
Chicken and vegetable soup
- Batch of turkey stock, roughly a quart (see above)
- 2-3 thighs of chicken, cut into strips
- 1/2 cup of cabbage
- 1/2 cup of broccoli
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into coins
- 2 stalks celery, sliced into quarter inch pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
- Add the chicken to the stock, then bring to a boil, cooking for 10 minutes until mostly cooked, removing a piece and cutting it open to check doneness. Skim the soup on occasion through this process. Lower hear to a simmer.
- Season stock with salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne if using.
- Add broccoli and carrots, and cook for a 1-2 minutes.
- Add cabbage and cook for a fe1-2 more minutes more.
- Add the celery and cook until it is softened to your liking.
- Adjust seasoning if necessary
- Serve hot with bread.