Aunt Renee's Chicken Soup

May  8, 2017
0 Ratings
Photo by Gentl & Hyers
  • Serves 6
What You'll Need
  • one 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, (2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 thighs, and 2 legs), backbone reserved
  • one pound chicken wings
  • 2 large yellow onions, unpeeled, roughly chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic, halved horizontally so that the cloves are exposed
  • 1 handful fresh Italian parsley sprigs, stems reserved and leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • Josher salt
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 handful roughly chopped fresh dill
  1. In the largest pot you have, combine the chicken pieces, chicken wings, onions, celery, garlic, parsley stems, peppercorns, and 1 Tbsp salt. Add half of the carrots to the pot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the top, until the chicken breasts are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.
  2. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the pot and set them aside in a bowl. Continue simmering the stock, stirring it every so often and skimming any foam that rises to the top, until everything in the pot has given up all of its structural integrity (the vegetables should be totally soft and the chicken should look well past its prime—this is all great, it means these things have given all of their flavor to the water) and the stock is a rich golden color, about 3 hours.
  3. While the stock is simmering, let the chicken breasts cool to room temperature, and then discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones (discard the bones), and shred the meat. Set the meat aside.
  4. Ladle the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot (or, if you don’t have another large pot, ladle it into a bowl, clean the pot you started with, and return the stock to the pot). Discard the contents of the sieve (everything in it will have given all it can by this point).
  5. Bring the stock back to a boil and season to taste with salt (be bold, it will need quite a bit!). Add the remaining carrots and the parsnips, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the reserved chicken breast meat to the soup and let it warm up for a minute or two. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each with some of the chopped parsley and dill. Serve immediately.
  7. Note: This soup is even better the next day. Do not discard the hardened fat that will have formed on top after the soup has been refrigerated. The rich pools of chicken fat on top of your soup are essential (at least in my book, but no hard feelings if you would rather discard the fat).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nancy
  • The Principal Cook
    The Principal Cook
  • Julia Turshen
    Julia Turshen
  • lilroseglow

5 Reviews

Nancy May 17, 2017
And yep I wondered that too. Throw all that away?!? Great idea from lilroseglow, thanks for sharing!
Julia T. May 17, 2017
Yes I agree with her (see below!)
The P. May 15, 2017
Maybe I missed it in the recipe, but do you not use the meat from the legs and thighs in the finished soup? Only the breasts?
lilroseglow May 16, 2017
Yeah, seems like a pretty wasteful recipe for what is usually a pretty frugal meal. I've made chicken soup almost exactly like this for years, except I pull out the legs and thighs, strip the meat, and then add the bones and skin back into the pot to continue simmering and adding their goodness to the stock. Stretches that chicken a lot futher, especially helpful since I feed 3 teenagers.
Julia T. May 17, 2017
Hey! I definitely love this idea to take the dark meat off sooner rather than later and finish the stock with just the bones and skin...I wrote the recipe *exactly* the way my aunt made it, sort-of an homage to her and her memory...but I couldn't agree more with your method...I'm all for more meat + more economic cooking! Thanks for paying such close attention.