Broth is the base ingredient in soup. The next recipe is for homemade chicken broth. You can also buy canned broth as long as it doesn’t have additives other than salt. The richness of homemade broth depends on the proportion of meat and bones to the water in which they are cooked and on the number of hours the broth is simmered. If you’ve cooked the bones, skin, giblets, and a little meat from a 4-pound chicken in 2 quarts of water for 3 hours, you will probably have broth that is jelly-like when cooled. This may be diluted with equal parts of water and still be heavy.
Cooked or raw chicken or turkey giblets, skin, bones, and meat that clings to the bones
1 carrot, cut into small pieces
1 celery stalk, with or without leaves, cut into small pieces
3 whole cloves, stuck into a large whole onion
1 teaspoon salt
2 quarts or more water
Place all ingredients in a large pot and cover completely with water. Cover with a lid. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to low. Skim off dark foam as it develops, and simmer at least 2 hours (3 is better). Add water as it evaporates.
Let mixture cool for 20 minutes, then pour into a large sieve or colander set over a large bowl. When broth has completely drained into bowl, discard what remains in colander. Refrigerate broth in bowl or smaller containers. Skim off fat that rises to the top and hardens. Tip: Broth freezes well, so you can freeze small portions in freezer-safe containers.
Follow recipe for chicken broth, but substitute beef or veal bones for chicken or turkey bones. For a browner, richer broth, begin by roasting cooked or raw bones in a 425° oven for 30 minutes.
You can also include bits of cooked beef from steak or beef bones.
Do not use pork or lamb meat or bones. Marrow bones make a particularly rich broth. Be sure to allow plenty of time for fat to rise and harden on top of cooked broth; overnight is best.
Makes 1 large serving.
2 cups meat broth (preceding page)
1 cup diced vegetables, in any combination: onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, turnips, parsnips, spinach
½ cup uncooked rice
Herbs: rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, or others
½ cup cooked meat (optional)
Leftover cooked vegetables and cooking liquid (optional) Bring broth to boil. Add diced vegetables, rice, and seasonings to taste. Add water as broth evaporates. When vegetables and rice are tender, add meat and leftover cooked vegetables. This recipe makes one large or two small servings, but you can easily increase the amounts to make more servings. You can also change the proportions, but be sure that you have at least four times as much liquid as raw rice. If you use brown rice, simmer it about 20 minutes before you add the raw vegetables.
The following are some soup variations that may appeal to you:
Use chicken broth, carrots, celery, spinach, and white rice seasoned with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add pieces of cooked chicken.
Use chicken broth, rice, onion, and a few strands of saffron or ½ teaspoon cumin. Add cooked chicken.
Winter Vegetable Soup
Use all-purpose broth, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and zucchini seasoned with a bay leaf, rosemary, or thyme. Discard bay leaf before serving. Sprinkle with parsley. Meat pieces are optional.
Peel and slice or dice 1 cup carrots. Simmer in 1 cup rich chicken broth. Add salt, pepper, and a dash of ginger and/or nutmeg. Cool slightly and puree in blender or food processor. Reheat, adding more broth if mixture is too thick, more seasoning if it is too bland.
Winter Squash or Pumpkin Soup
Substitute peeled and diced squash or pumpkin for carrots in carrot soup, above.
Simmer 1 chopped onion or leek, 1 chopped potato, salt to taste, and pepper to flavor in just enough broth to cover. (Your own rich chicken broth may overwhelm the potato flavor, so you might want to dilute it with water or use canned broth.)When vegetables are tender, cool slightly. Mash, blend, or process until mixture is smooth, adding more broth until soup is the consistency of thick cream.
You can also add other vegetables, such as carrots (season with ginger or nutmeg), winter squash or pumpkin (season with cinnamon and cloves), zucchini (season with basil, thyme, or oregano), or spinach (season with nutmeg).