Making chicken broth doesn’t have to be an arduous process. It does take a little more time than opening up a can of store-bought broth. But, I look at it as a gift I’m giving my friends and family. A homemade chicken broth is the cornerstone of any great homemade soup.
The time it takes to make the broth is only to bring out the wonderful essence and wholesome flavor that’s characteristic of a great broth. Below are my favorite 12 soup cooking tips for making that happen.
- Start with choosing an older bird (a roaster – about 5-7 lbs.) An older bird has had time to develop that rich and intense chicken flavor – more so than a younger bird – like the milder tasting Cornish hens. A broiler chicken would work, but really, the roasters are the best for making chicken broth.
- To save time, use the roaster parts of the chicken. They cook much faster and if you only need a small amount of broth, this is an excellent way to do it.
- In making chicken broth, I’ve found that the richest flavor from chicken comes from the muscles that are used the most. This happens to be found in the dark meat. You can use all parts of the chicken to make a satisfactory broth, but for the fullest and richest flavor, use the legs, necks, and thighs.
- If you want a clear golden colored broth, then do not use the liver. The liver will turn the stock to a mucky, cloudy color. And if you want to keep that golden color, another tip is to use only the stems of parsley and the white part of leeks and scallions. This helps you to avoid a greenish color in your broth.
- As the stock cooks down, a foamy substance will float to the top. You simply skim it off or strain it using a doubled over piece of cheesecloth.
- If you are using herbs and greens in making chicken broth to flavor it, make sure you tie up the herbs first, in a little cheesecloth bag. This will help you when you are skimming off the foam not to lose your flavoring inadvertently. Tying the herbs up this way is called a “bouquet garni”.
- When simmering stock or broth, make sure you always use a low heat. If you end up boiling your broth, it will boil away too much of the flavor.
- If you are making a cream soup, using leftover vegetables that are slightly past their prime is an excellent way to thicken your stock. Simply puree the vegetables and add them in to the stock slowly until blended.
- If you are using eggs to thicken your soup, you can avoid curdling the egg by first stirring a cup of the hot stock or broth into the egg and then pour it all into the soup. And PLEASE make sure you don’t boil the soup once the egg has been added. You will have a soupy casserole on your hand if don’t watch out.
- Soups with the most flavor are a result of storing them covered, in the refrigerator for a day or two. To seal in the flavor, while storing, leave the layer of fat on top. When you are ready to use the soup, you can simply remove the layer of fat – by that time it has congealed and is easy to remove. If any particles of fat remain, just take a paper towel (unscented) and lay it on the surface of the soup. Draw the towel to one side and it will pick up the leftover particles.
- When freezing broth, make sure you have 1/2- to 1-inch room in the container since soup when it is frozen, will expand. Freeze your stock in quart size containers to use in soups later on.
- Another tip for freezing broth and stocks is you can also freeze a bit of it in ice cube trays. Then you can use the ice cubes when you are making sauces or gravies.
Keep these tips in mind, and you won’t go wrong in making the best tasting homemade broth ever. Plus it’s great to have on hand when you want to use it for your favorite sauces, dips, gravies, and soups.
Sara Gray is an avid lover of appetizers (and anything really to do with food!) and has created a couple of fun and informative websites. Easy Appetizer Recipes is where you can find delicious ideas for all kinds of hot and cold appetizers, raclette grilling, tapas small plates, snacks, chips and dip ideas, and holiday appetizers. And Soup Hoopla! has everything you ever wanted to know about soup and fabulous recipes too.
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