Chicken in a Pot with Soy Broth

Chinese-style chicken soup, deconstructed.
TIME 1½ hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 4 servings
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
6 to 8 cups water or chicken stock
¼ cup soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
2 cloves
3 carrots, cut into thick coins
3 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 Put the chicken in a stockpot with enough water or stock to cover by at least 1 inch. Add the soy sauce, bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down so the liquid bubbles gently. Cover and cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

2 Add the carrots, celery, and scallions to the pot. Return the lid and cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 20 minutes longer. The meat is done when a quick-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of one of the thighs reads 155–165°F.

3 When the chicken is ready, use tongs to carefully transfer it to a large bowl. Fish the vegetables out of the stock with a slotted spoon and put them on a large serving platter. Raise the heat under the pot to high and let the broth bubble vigorously until it has thickened slightly and partially evaporated—the volume of broth should decrease by about 25 percent—10 to 15 minutes.

4 After the chicken has cooled enough to handle, separate the meat from the skin and bones and put it on the platter with the vegetables. Pour the broth through a strainer into a large bowl or ceramic pitcher; taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, or more soy sauce. To serve, put some chicken and vegetables in soup bowls and pour a splash of the broth over all.

  • More Traditional Chicken in a Pot: Skip the soy sauce and cloves. In Step 1, add 2 pounds small waxy red or white potatoes to the pot along with the chicken. After reducing the broth in Step 3, stir in ½ cup cream if you like and add 1 cup peas.

  • Water works quite well here since the chicken and vegetables create a broth all by themselves. But using stock ratchets up the flavor dramatically.
  • If your stockpot is so large that 6 to 8 cups liquid doesn’t cover your chicken, you have two choices: Don’t submerge the chicken, but turn it a couple times during cooking. Or add more liquid and then allow extra time to reduce the broth.
  • Be patient: Reducing the broth takes some time, and you want to intensify the flavors as much as possible. Keep tasting; you’ll know when it’s ready.
  • This dish is good with simply boiled Chinese egg noodles or plain white or brown rice.

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