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Author Notes: This is my mother's classic Italian chicken soup (brodo) that I grew up with and have made for many years for my famiglia every fall to winter season. Perfect for dinner and I freeze the extra broth for later use. - cucina di mammina
Makes a stockpot of soup (brodo)
- 1 whole fresh organic or farm-raised chicken (additional chicken parts like wings, feet and neck)
- available extra chicken parts like wings, feet and neck and backbone (skin and cartilage addtons of flavor)
- 3-4 oxtail meat bones
- 2-3 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 large white or yellow onion (peeled & cut into chunks)
- 3-4 ribs celery and celery leaves
- 3-4 carrots (peeled and cut in large chunks)
- 1-2 large very ripe beefsteak tomatoes (cut in half)
- 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
- 1 bunch fresh escarole
- sea salt
- grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 1-1/2 cups cooked small pasta (farfalle, acini di pepe or pastina)
- Wash your whole chicken thoroughly and let drain. Cut the chicken into pieces separating the leg and thigh, the wings and the breast from the backbone. Save or freeze the breasts for cooking another dish as these add very little flavor when it comes to soup.
- Using a very large and deep soup stockpot, add in the cut up chicken parts (and any additional parts as noted above) along with the oxtail meat bones and fill with cold water to just below the top of the pot. Set on stove to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. When the water begins to foam at the top, let this continue to simmer for about 10-15 minutes and remove from stove.
- Discard the water and remove the meat and chicken pieces and place in a large bowl. Wash the stock pot and refill with clean, fresh water to begin the soup cooking process (this first step is crucial as it removes all the blood and foam from the chicken and meat which would discolor and change the flavor of your finished soup stock.)
- Place the pot back on the stove and bring back to a medium-high heat to began to boil. At this point add in the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and tomatoes. Allow the water to come to a soft rolling boil (you can place the cover on the pot (semi-covered to allow the steam to escape a bit.)
- Season with some salt at this point; careful not to over-season as the water evaporates and the soup condenses, the salt becomes more concentrated as well.
- Clean and wash the escarole leaves and break into bite-size pieces; this ingredient will be needed later in the cooking process.
- Allow the soup to simmer at a slow boil for about 2 to 3 hours or so (add a bit water if needed as it cooks.) About half way through this process, check for seasoning/taste and add a bit if needed.
- One the soup has cooked for the full amount of time, you can remove the meat bones and chicken segments and place in a large bowl. Keep the soup at a slow simmer; add in the prepared escarole and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
- While the escarole cooks, remove the meat in small pieces from the oxtail bones and reserve some of the chicken meat from the legs and thighs; place in a sealed container and refrigerate.
- Remove the stockpot from the heat and set aside, covered. Reheat the soup when ready to eat; freeze the remaining soup in sealed containers for later use.
- To serve the soup, pour the hot broth into each bowl and add some cooked pastina or pasta, the reserved meat if you wish, and sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and enjoy!
- NOTE: Another favorite variation for this chicken soup is the traditional Italian soup called Stracciatella (translated means “little rags”.)
- This simple meatless version uses the soup broth and vegetables heated to slow simmer and you take an egg or two beaten well with some grated parmigiano cheese and you slowly swirl the egg mixture into the simmering soup using a fork to form the strips or “little rags” and the heat of the broth cooks the egg mixture in seconds.
- Pull off the heat and enjoy this light version with a nice salty kick from the grated cheese and a bit of protein as a great late-night dinner or midday snack.