Simple Chicken Broth Recipe

Simple Chicken Broth Recipe

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  1. I used to make special trips to three or four markets to get all the ingredients for my “special” chicken stock; this market had the best garlic, this one had fresh sage but not the oregano I needed…  It was always a trial and in the end, I could barely taste all of the ingredients I wasted so much time gathering. It was about this time that I adopted my “simpler is better” philosophy to cooking. Now it tastes just as good and the process involves far less swearing.

    For those who want to make a full-fledged chicken soup, you can save a step by making this broth first, then adding whatever vegetables you want and boiling them in the stock until tender. If you then add pre-cooked chicken at the end, it will have plenty of flavor as opposed to the pieces of chicken you find in most chicken soup.


    For this, you will need:

    • 6 chickens
    • 6 heads fresh garlic
    • Bottled lemon juice (to taste)
    • Salt (to taste)


    The procedure:

    1. First, I recommend beginning this process in the late afternoon/early evening, when the day cools. Thoroughly clean all chickens, inside and out. If you want to fit more birds per pot, quarter them. While cleaning, remove the kidneys with your thumbs (they are set into bony pockets near the base of the spine, on either side, near the tail—or “pope’s nose”) and rinse cavities. Reserve the livers and use them however you wish (my wife makes me keep them; I’d rather make little gifts of them for my much-hated neighbor by stuffing them through the cracks in his windows and let them trickle down behind his couch where they will go undiscovered for weeks, but she won’t let me). You may want to remove the skins, but do so only if you plan to use them for chicken skin cracklings. If you worry about the fat content of the skin and think that removing it will make the soup healthier, save your brain and stop thinking: we will remove the fat later.
    2. Throw the pieces into as many pots as are required (do not overfill it; leave room for the water). If you have a large kettle, all six birds may fit; otherwise you will need at least three large pots. Add the necks, hearts and gizzards as well, and then fill the pots with enough filtered water to cover the pieces by at least an inch. Place over high heat, cover and bring to boil. If you have any reserved wingtips in your freezer, throw them in the pot.
    3. Once boiling, lower the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cover and cook for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Check and stir on occasion; make sure to maintain the water level.
    4. The next morning… You need only peel the outermost, papery layers off the garlic heads and inspect the cloves; remove any that are discolored, too soft or in any other way funky. Add all the garlic to one pot, cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes to an hour.
    5. Using a spoon, crush the garlic cloves against the inside of the pot, and then stir it into the broth. The stock with be very aromatic at this point (try not to drool into the soup). Cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
    6. Turn off burners. Use a strainer to remove every scrap of meat, bone and garlic peel from the pot, and then pass the cloudy soup back through the strainer (after rinsing the strainer, of course) into a clean container. Once the broth has no bits in it, pour it all into one large pot and return to high heat. Cover and bring to boil.
    7. Remove lid; do not reduce heat, but allow broth to boil down until about 2/3 the original volume (1-2 hours).
    8. Add lemon juice and salt, starting with ½ cup lemon and 2 Tbs. salt, then adjust both until it tastes the way you like it. Add both sparingly and taste the broth after each addition until it makes you smile. *NOTE: the measurements given above are for a recipe with six whole chickens: Do Not Use This Much Lemon or Salt If You Are Cooking Only One Bird! If making a smaller recipe, start with a Tbs. lemon juice and a tsp. salt and work up from there. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but even I occasionally misread or misinterpret recipes, especially when scaling them down, and I am neither stupid nor inexperienced… at least my mom tells me I’m not. It’s easy to screw up when dealing with chemical formulas; and let’s face it, cooking is more chemistry than art.
    9. To cool the broth quickly, place the pot in a sink partially filled with cold water; stir both the soup and the sink water for about five minutes, then drain the sink and do it again. The broth will be cool enough to store in 10 minutes or less.


    Pour the broth into glass containers with tight lids, or large mason jars; fill them to the top unless you plan to freeze it. If the jars are going in the freezer, fill each to within two inches of the top and place them in freezer uncovered until the fat hardens; the fat solidifying on top expands dramatically in the freezer and will blow the lid off if you cover it. If storing the broth in the refrigerator, fill the jars to the top and cover tightly. A thick layer of fat will harden on top. Remove this fat only when you’re ready to spoon the soup out of the jar, as it helps to preserve the broth.

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