October 5, 2011

the secret to amazing soup

The secret to amazing soup is amazing broth.  And the secret to amazing broth is to make your own.

This is on my mind right now because I have a beautiful pot of amazing soup on the stove as I type.  It is so tastebud-defyingly delicious that I would feel guilty not telling you how to do it yourself.  Tonight's particular soup is potato soup, but this will be true of any soup you make using your amazing broth.  It's so simple you will kick yourself for not having known it before - but don't!  Save that energy and make some soup!!  Okay, here goes (and don't be deceived by the length of this post - it really is simple; I just get wordy when I'm excited!):

Buy a roasting chicken.  The brand does not matter, although of course if we are being all idealistic, it will be one that was raised in the sunshine under fruit trees, eating its pick of weeds, seeds, bugs and select kitchen garbage, happily husbanded by a fine rooster, the way ours are here.  But let's be real:  there aren't enough of those, and it's not much fun to butcher anyway.  So go ahead and get the Shurfine chicken at your favorite grocery store (I can actually vouch for that brand being a good one!).

Roast it.  Just follow the directions on the back of the bag.  (Only, if you want really succulent white meat, turn that chicken breast-side-down.  I know it says breast-side-up.  They're wrong.)  Or, if you actually got a pastured chicken somewhere, set your oven for 350 degrees and pop that hen right in - two and a half hours for a 6-8lb bird.  Use a meat thermometer if you like precision in the kitchen; otherwise just wait till the meat starts to sag off the bones in submission.  Baste (that is, as juices cook out of the bird, pour them right back over it to keep it moist) frequently after the first hour.

(By the way, I like roast chicken so much that I never do anything to it seasoning-wise.  It just gets in the way - kind of like almonds in chocolate.)

Eat the chicken, picking all the meat off of the bones.  Save the skin if you can resist eating it - this is where all the flavor is (as is usually true of fats!) and will take your broth to untold heights.

Now.  Here is where the good part comes in.  Instead of throwing all those bones (& skin, remember?) into the trashcan .....

..... dump it all in your crockpot, cover with water, set on low, and forget about it for a day or so.  If you want to get fancy, plop an onion in, too.  But trust me, if your chicken was at all tasty (and especially if threw the skin in like I told you to), that broth is going to have you calling your friends and spreading the news.

At your leisure, when the liquid in your crockpot is nice and dark, turn it off and let it cool a smidge.  Get your largest bowl (mine holds four quarts), line it with fine cheesecloth or clean woven cotton, and ladle all that rich yumminess into the bowl.

Bring the four corners of the cloth together (gingerly, if it's still steaming), and then throw all that away (or if you have carnivorous pets, give it to them for a treat).  Look at your bowl.  Lean in close and take a whiff.  Good, huh?  Box that up in plastic boxes in your freezer and you've got liquid gold on hand for your next soup.  Or if you can't wait that long, go ahead - make some right away!!

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