Really, what else do you put in a hot water soup?! :)
Occasionally, I make a hot water soup too, although my hot water soup has a little bit more than just hot water, and it is my husband's favorite soup to have in the winter: the colder it gets, more often he asks for it! Often times just plain chicken broth (a.k.a. hot water soup) and a toast is all he wants.
Sometimes I get "creative" and add a potato and a carrot with some herbs to it. But whether you add "extras" to it or not, the good chicken broth is a meal on it's own.
It takes some time to make a good stock, but it is just time, not a work as you let it slowly cook for several hours (6-8, even 10-12), then leave overnight in the refrigerator. The next day you'll be praised with flavor of the most delicious chicken broth.
Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, a good stock starts with good ingredients, in this case a good natural chicken.
A few years back we did experiment with a few chickens: one store bought natural (#1), another one was organic (#2), and a third was from a local farmer (#3), who was selling his free range chickens (for this one I had to be on a waiting list!).
I made three stocks, using the same ingredients (except chickens), same cooking time. And can you guess which stock was the most popular and was gone before it even cooled down? If you picked #3, you were absolutely right. The color and rich flavor of the stock was amazing. The runner up was #1, made from natural store bought chicken (from Whole Foods): it's flavor was milder, yet it had good body.
Chicken stock made of organic chicken was too plain to our tastes even with all the vegetables and herbs used, however it was still much better than the one you get from a box or a can. Waaay better, and worth all the effort.
Chicken Broth (Stock)
- 3-4 chicken carcasses or 1 good quality whole chicken
- 2 carrots, pilled
- 1 medium or large onion (peel and cut it in half or leave it whole)
- 2 celery ribs
- 2 parsley roots, peeled (if you can't find it, use one celery root, peeled and quartered)
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut in half
- 1/2 fennel bulb (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 peppercorns
- 2-3 clove garlic (optional)
- 4-5 parsley stems (no leaves)
- 2-3 dry dill "hay" (dry whole dill plant, that is usually used for pickling); dry dill seeds can be used instead
- 4-5 dry lovage leaves (optional)
- 6-7 liters (1,5 gallon) cold water
Place chicken carcasses in a big stock pot, add water and bring it to a simmer (do not let it boil!), skim all the foam (scum) from the top (it will take you about 40-60 minutes, be patient). You do not have to stand there, just attend to it every 15-20 minutes, skim the scum, and come back to it in another 15-20 minutes. Then add all other ingredients, except bay leaf and simmer for 6-7 hours. Once again, simmer, do not bring it to a rapid boil (rapid boil will result in a grey cloudy stock!). Walk by the simmering stock every couple of hours to skim (if necessary) and add some water, if needed, although I rarely do it as I want my stock to have more gelatinous body and reach flavor.
|Dill "hey" (left), dill seeds (center), dry lovage (right)|
After 6-7 hours of simmering the deep fragrant smell will invite you to check it out, and now you can add a bay leaf. The reason I add it in the end is because bay leaf can make your stock bitter in a very short time. Hence, add it in the end of cooking for 20-30 minutes and then discard it.
Strain stock into another large pot, and refrigerate overnight. Next day remove solidified fat and store it in refrigerator for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to three months. Once again, I prefer to freeze it in a wide mouth glass jars. I tried different containers: BPA-free plastic, Ziploc bags, etc, and I can taste and smell plastic in my broth after de-frosting.
Now you can do with your broth/stock whatever you want: reduce it to make a velvety sauce, make a soup, cook some risotto, or just drink it plain with some fresh herbs and a little salt.
You don't have to use all listed ingredients. It is my preference and I usually have it all. But when I run out of fennel or can't find parsley root, I still make a tasty chicken stock. My mother, for example, uses only five ingredients: chicken, onion, bay leaf, dill "hay", and parsley root. And her stock is the most flavorful I have ever had (I am being subjective here, I know). :)
The secret to any good stock is to cook it long and cook it slow.
|Hot water soup, my way! :)|
Add a dash of Love to it, and you would have a cup full of healing power and health benefits.