The reasons I dislike commercial chicken soup: high salt, high fat, sugar, unpronounceable additives. So I’m going to give you my secret recipe for a good chicken broth, inherited from my mother, who got it from her mother. For those with a limited spice collection, the spices are whole, so they will store for a few years without losing flavor… but mine don’t last because I use them up!
chicken – Ideally, raw chicken backs, wings, and bones, especially from stewing hens. Failing that, leftover BBQ chicken bones and bits; double the chicken-to-water ratio to get better flavor.
water – For every 1/2 kg (one pound) of chicken bit, 1 litre (1 quart) of cold water.
Spices, per litre of water…
6 points of a star anise
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
10 whole black peppercorns
1/2 t parsley (dried; if I have fresh, I add a handful half-way through cooking because I love parsley)
You may want to put all the spices into a large tea-ball or spice egg to make them easier to retrieve; since I strain everything afterwards, I no longer bother with that. If this is your first time and you suspect the spices will be too strong for you, use something that allows you to retrieve the spices.
Everything goes into a 2-3 quart saucepan for the amounts suggested above. Bring it up to a hard boil, and then turn it down to a slow bubble of a simmer; some people demand a clear broth, so skim now if you like. Let it simmer for about two hours. Near the end of that, taste it, and perhaps add a little salt.
Use a wire sieve (something heat-proof) to strain the broth into another pot or heatproof bowl.
Chicken broth has a remarkable amount of protein in it, so there should be less than two hours between steaming hot and chilled. I aim for one hour! I put the soup pot into a sink of cold water to help chill it, and, when it reaches a cool enough temperature, ladle it into smaller containers for the freezer. Use frozen broth within six months.
Clean everything well afterwards, again because of the high protein levels.
Measure the cooled broth into freezer bags so you can have the frozen broth available when you need it; a cupful is good for making sauces or for single-person soups.
Other vegetables can be added to the broth; especially nice is Hamburg-rooted parsley, cut into chunks.
Other spices can be added; for instance, fresh gingerroot will give a further Asian feel to the flavor.
For noodle soup, cook some plain egg noodles in hot water according to directions, drain, ladle hot broth over top, and eat!
If you have a crockpot, put all ingredients into the crockpot, and start it at “high” until it bubbles; then turn it to the “low” setting and let cook as long as you like. (My crockpot has only the two settings.) I’ll sometimes let it go 24 hours. Then strain and cool… unless it’s going straight over noodles!