RECIPE: Chicken Soup -can you subsitute chicken parts?

mangomoonFebruary 25, 2008

Can one use chicken legs or thighs as long as the bone is in it, to make the broth to make chicken soup? Or must one use an entire chicken? How do you determine if you put to much water which will result in more broth? I made way too much last time using a dutch oven, and I am by myself, so I had tons of left overs. If I can use a smaller than dutch oven, creating less broth, that would be just perfect. Any tips?

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You can use any part of a chicken that you find on sale for making chicken broth. I buy packages of chicken necks & backs just for making broth. Not a whole lot of meat, but it really doesn't matter if you simmer the broth for several hours. By the time you're done, the meat has pretty much given up all its flavor.

If your goal is to make broth & use the meat for soup, I think legs, and especially thighs, are a good choice. They are more flavorful than breasts and hold up to long cooking.

As far as too much broth, you don't need to fill your dutch oven. Just make the amount of water equal to what you want to finally end up with. Or, you could make a larger amount and freeze the extra broth. However, there's absolutely no reason why you can't use a smaller saucepan with just a few pieces of chicken.

I think browning the chicken pieces either in the stock pot or in the oven adds a richer flavor to the chicken broth. I always include a chunked up carrot, onion, and celery stalk, along with a bay leaf, some whole black peppercorns, and a couple of whole allspice. The longer you simmer the broth, the deeper and fuller the flavor.

I usually strain the broth using a strainer lined with some cheesecloth & toss all the solids. However, if I have used some really meaty chicken pieces, I remove the bones & skin and set the meat aside for use later. Then I refrigerate the broth overnight & scrape off the congealed fat. If I'm making soup with the strained & de-fatted broth, I'll use fresh vegetables.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 12:15AM
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Ditto everything Shambo said plus consider straining the stock after an 1.25 to 1.5 hours, reserving the chicken for use in soup (I use it for pot pies)and then placing the strained stock back on the burner to reduce until it's reached your taste point.

Regarding how much mom taught me to just barely cover the chicken parts, which works for me.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 2:52PM
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I really like your hint about removing the chicken meat after 1-1/2 hours and then continuing the simmering of the stock, bones, skin, etc. until reaching a flavorful broth. That method would work well with meatier chicken pieces. Probably not necessary when doing up a mess of necks & backs, though. Thanks for the suggestion.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 6:22PM
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On getting rid of the fat by refrigerating the stock. I read that you should first put the pot in an ice water bath and stir til it cools before putting in refrigerator. Claimed just putting in refrigerator doesn't cool it fast enough to stop harmful bacteria from forming in the warm center. Stirring it brings the warm center next to the ice water.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 3:01PM
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If you are cooking only for yourself, I would recommend buying one of those rotisserie chickens (regular, not teriaki. BBQ, or honey-something flavored) at your grocery store or Sam's club. Usually the price ($5-6) is really right, barely more than the cost of a whole chicken and far less per lb than a package of "perdue" peices/parts.

You can make several nice meals, roast chicken one day, chicken tacos, the next, chicken salad another day, and use the carcass to make 3-5 qts of stock. (which will freeze nicely in small containers for later). BTW, I use a mirepoix ie: celery, carrot and onion when I simmer the stock. for flavor.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 10:46AM
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I made a gallon and a half of chicken stock to take to my son's family for their Passover Seder.
I bought chicken wings, because they were cheap and yield a great stock.
I put the 9 pounds of wings in my stock pot and covered it with water.....about 4 inches over the top.
Then addeda chunked up onion skins too,4 peeled carrots, chunked up. The leafy top half of a head of celery, a leek a couple of parsnips, The stems from a bunch of parsley, about a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, a halved lemon about 1 T. salt and about 2/3 or so cup of leftover pinot grigio.
Sometimes I also add a few discs of fresh ginger and a bay leaf....sometimes some all spice and sometimes some marjoram and sage.
I simmered it for 7 hours with the lid ajar....strained it through a cloth in a colunder, and put 5 contianers of stock in my freezer, each containing about 4 1/2 cups.
I feel rich having chicken stock in my freezer....with the addition of some leftover veggies and meat, a little pasta and perhaps some grated cheese, I have dinner for me for 2 days.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 6:33PM
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I normally roast a whole chicken, pluck all the meat off, and then use the leftover bits for making the broth. It tastes different from stewing a whole chicken to make broth, but it also saves the integrity and much of the flavor of the meat pieces, which I toss into the soup I'll be making (assuming that you will be using the meat in the soup). This also saves you from having tons and tons of unwanted broth.

And the bit about the bacteria in chicken broth that Lakeron brought up-- while I don't think very many people get sick from chicken broth, she's so right about proper handling of it. An ice bath works, but I find that combining it with frozen water bottles immersed into the broth work better (maybe I saw it in Cook's Illustrated or Alton Brown mentioned it or something). Another reason that one shouldn't put the broth straight into the fridge is that putting a hot or even warm container in there raises the temperature of everything else around it dangerously high, so if you cool it all down first you avoid that temperature change.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:18PM
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There is no such thing as unwanted chicken broth! PLEASE don't tell me you are throwing it away.

Put leftovers in your freezer, in plastic bags, in 1-cup and 1/2-cup amounts. You will find them very handy when you are cooking; usually I don't even have to thaw them, I just dump the frozen lump (without the bag!) into the pot -- it melts very quickly.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 8:30PM
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