Chicken Stock and Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Stock and Chicken Noodle Soup

Yes, from scratch. Yes, you can do it. Yes, it will be worth the work.
TIME 1½ to 2½ hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 4 servings (plus extra chicken)
One 3 to 4-pound chicken, whole or in parts
1 large onion (don’t bother to peel), cut in half
4 large garlic cloves (don’t bother to peel)
3 large carrots, 1 whole, 2 chopped
3 large celery stalks, 1 whole, 2 chopped; leaves reserved for garnish
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh parsley, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pound small pasta like shells, orzo, or broken angel hair

1 Combine the chicken, onion, garlic, whole carrot, whole celery stalk, bay leaves, and parsley if you’re using it in a stockpot. Add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid bubbles gently but steadily.

2 Cover and cook, stirring gently every 15 minutes or so, until the chicken is fully cooked, 30 to 40 minutes for parts, 50 to 60 minutes for a whole one. If necessary, add water to keep the chicken submerged. To check for doneness, use a slotted spoon or tongs to carefully lift out some chicken and pierce it with a thin-bladed knife. You should meet no resistance, and the meat should be white all the way to the bone and maybe starting to fall off in places.

3 Carefully transfer the chicken from the pot to a shallow bowl with tongs. When it’s cool enough to handle, pull off and discard the skin; pull the meat off the bones and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Reserve 2 cups for the soup and refrigerate the rest for another use. If you have time, return the bones to the pot and let the stock simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes.

4 Put a strainer or colander over a large pot and carefully pour in the stock; press down on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard them. Skim the fat off the top. You should have about 7 cups; if not, add some water. Sprinkle the stock with a little salt and pepper. (If you just want to make chicken stock, stop here.)

5 Put the pot over medium-high heat. Bring it just to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid bubbles steadily. Add the chopped carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are as crisp or tender as you like them, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

6 Stir in the pasta and the reserved 2 cups chicken; adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily and keep cooking until the pasta is tender but not mushy, another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with the reserved celery leaves, and serve.

  • More Flavorful Chicken Stock: Put all the vegetables into the pot with the chicken (don’t bother to chop the extra celery and carrot) and let it cook for 90 minutes in Step 2. Strain and skim the fat off the top as described in Step 4. (The chicken that’s left won’t be very flavorful chicken, but you can still remove the meat from the bones as in Step 3 and use it elsewhere if you like.)

  • Making a big batch of stock is only marginally more difficult than making a small one: Double the recipe—or make as much as you can, in the largest pot you have —then divide the stock among small containers to keep in the freezer.
  • If you have leftover cooked pasta, noodles, rice, or even more vegetables, you can stir them into the soup in Step 6 and cook the soup just long enough for them to heat through (a minute or two) and serve right away.

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