This is as much a method as it is a recipe. In the old days, chickens had more flavor so you could make a good stock with just a chicken. These days, you need some help, although local free range chickens do have a much richer taste. I recommend using one–you’ll taste the difference. Using cold water and a slow heat gives a better broth. If your goal is boiled chicken, add it to boiling water. Either way, you’ll have leftover cooked chicken. My advice is to tear into bite sized shreds and mix it with fresh grapes sliced in half lengthwise, toasted almond slices, chopped celery, curry powder and mayonnaise for chicken salad. I like to pull chicken into largish shreds and cut them crosswise rather than dice the cooked chicken because I think it eats better that way.
Parsnips make the broth a little sweeter. The serving carrots can be roll-cut or cut into thick coins. To roll cut a carrot: Cut the tip off at a diagonal. Roll the carrot ¼ turn and cut at an angle. Keep rolling and cutting, with the goal of similar bite-sized roughly triangular shapes. Way more interesting to serve and eat and they don’t overcook as fast. Cooking the noodles separately keeps them from absorbing all the broth you have lovingly created and keeps the soup clearer. You don’t have to make read-the-date-on-a-dime-at-the-bottom-of-the-pot clear consommé, but clear chicken soup is nicer. Don’t store the cooked noodles with the soup or you’ll end up with fat noodles and no broth.
Use fresh dill. If you are going to all this trouble, you should go all the way.
1 3lb chicken
2 large carrots (or 1 large carrot & 1 medium parsnip)
1 stalk celery, plus an inner stalk with leaves
1 bay leaf
1 large sprig of fresh dill
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
12 or so peppercorns
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
2 cups Chicken stock or 2 TBSP chicken base
Package of chicken backs or giblets (about 1 lb)
Noodles / Matzoh balls / Oyster crackers / Saltines / Matzoh farfel*
Remove giblets and rinse chicken. Place in large pot and cover with cold water. For richer flavor, use half chicken stock and half cold water. Or rinse and add the additional chicken backs or giblets. Or add some good-quality chicken base. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Using cold water and a slow heat gives a better broth. If your goal is boiled chicken, add it to boiling water. Add all giblets except for the liver.
Peel the carrots (and/or parsnip) and wash the celery. Cut carrots in half and add to the pot. Add the celery, bay leaf, peppercorns, and dill. Add the salt if you are not using chicken stock or base.
Simmer uncovered over low heat for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the chicken is well-cooked and the broth has a pleasing yellow color and has cooked down somewhat. Remove the chicken and let cool. Strain the broth. Eat the carrots if you like—they will be pretty overdone, but you will be hungry. Ditto for the giblets. Toss the rest. You can leave the broth in the fridge overnight to make it easier to skim the fat. Save the fat for matzoh balls or chopped liver if your dietician is not in the room. Remove the chicken from the bones and pull into largish shreds and reserve.
To serve: re-heat the soup. Add the additional carrots and simmer until the carrots are done, about 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed. It will need salt. Cook noodles separately, if you are using them. Add as many chicken pieces as you want to serve and add them in the last five minutes to let them re heat. Place the hot noodles in each soup bowl if you are using them, add chicken and carrots to each bowl and top with broth. Snip dill fronds over each bowl for a sprinkling of fresh dill flavor.
*Matzoh farfel looks like small pieces of undercooked matzoh. You add it to soup at the table for a little crunch. A quick search will give you lots of ideas as to what to do with the rest of the box.