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I want to try my hand at making a chicken/veggie/potato soup some time next week, and I've looked up some recipes online that I think will be good, but I'm really not sure what I'm looking for. I've never even attempted to make soup before besides the stuff that comes out of a can.

Any advice/suggestions for someone starting out with soup? Any good recipes that are a good basis for (hopefully!) a successful soup batch? FYI - both myself and my BF prefer spicy soups that are NOT cream based.

Thanks for the help!

Cali_Ali

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Any advice/suggestions for someone starting out with soup?

Heavens, I have advice for the second coming.

Forget recipes and think flavors. Unless you have access to non-factory farm chickens, your flavor is going to come from what you put into the pot when you're cooking the chicken. Decide what flavors you want and add them.

Recipes are good for method. If you want dark stock, brown your meat and whatever before putting it into the water. For a lighter stock, start with cold everything. Don't skip the scum skimming; it will make a difference.

After you get your pot up to a boil, lower the heat and simmer. When the meat's cooked, get it out of the pot. Chicken skin is easiest removed while the chicken is hot. When the meat's cool enough, shred and reserve.

Meanwhile, taste your stock. If it's weak, boil it down. (You can boil once the meat's been removed.) When the broth tastes the way I want it, I strain it and refrigerate overnight. The fat is then easy to remove. (If you ever want to make chicken and dumplings, reserve the chicken fat for the dumplings. Yum city)

To make your soup, get the stock boiling and add the vegetables in the order in cooking time order--longest to shortest. Toss the meat back in at the end to warm, get out the salad and crusty bread, and sit back and collect raves.

Phil
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your flavor is going to come from what you put into the pot when you're cooking the chicken. Decide what flavors you want and add them.

For starters, consider carrots, celery (including the leaves), onion, rutabaga, parsnip - standard "soup greens" - also mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., if you'd like - as well as a load of dill and parsley and some oregano, thyme, pepper and salt. (Some folks add cloves, I don't like that taste.)

All of these are added for taste and get thrown away when you strain the broth.

Once you're ready to make the soup, add some diced carrots and other veggies of choice - mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. - if you'd like (as Phil says, in order of cooking time) and cook them in the broth.

Some folks prefer thin or fine noodles with their soup, some like rice, I sometimes use orzo or tubertinni. Your choice.

Another hint: you need to use some "bony" parts for a good stock - wings, necks, backs, etc. - provide little meat but a lot of taste.

Make a big pot of stock and freeze it in several containers for future use. I love knowing that there's always a couple of containers in the freezer for nights I either don't feel like "cooking" or feel like having soup.

You can also freeze some of the stock in ice cube trays and use the individual cubes for flavor in other recipes.

Experiment - and enjoy!

Christina



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Wow ... Based on the two responses I got, I realize that I've got a lot of work to do. I've never made a stock before, so I guess I'll do some more internet searching on it before I attempt it.

This may be against everything that this whole board is about, but is there a way to take some baby steps and maybe buy a stock for my first soup to get the hang of it, and then maybe next time try to make my own? I'm a little nervous about this, but I really want to learn how to make soup because I really enjoy it.

Also, you both mention that I should add the vegetables in some sort of order, but I have to admit I really don't know what you mean by that. Can someone give me a link or give me an explanation of what that means? I know that some veggies cook faster than others, and I'm assuming that's what you're talking about, but I really don't know the details.

So by now, I'm sure that you all can tell that I'm an extreme newbie at this whole soup thing .... I've only really embraced cooking in the past year, so I've still got a lot to learn.

Thanks for the suggestions, and if you guys have any others, please pass them on!

Best,
Cali_Ali
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is there a way to take some baby steps and maybe buy a stock for my first soup to get the hang of it,

Hell yeah! This is what DW does and she makes some of the finest, real deal, Jewish mom's chicken soup.
BIG pot is needed. Some water of course, add the cleaned chicken, carrots, lots of celery (for me) a couple of onions skin and all, a package of soup greens available in the produce aisle. The greens contain some dill but she adds a bit more. Top up the pot with water and lets it simmer, for hours. The longer the better but after two plus you have the makings of a really good soup. Of course salt and pepper as you go. DW removes the chicken and let's the soup simmer while the chicken is taken off the bone. Make some noodle, (any noodles are fine with me) and maybe some matzoh balls too. Get as big a bowl as you can find, add chicken, noodles, soup and veggies and enjoy.

For some reason, a cold Pepsi goes down really well with it. But that goes back to being a kid at grandma's.

bigpix
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Here's my favorite chicken noodle soup recipe. It's super easy and is ready in less than an hour. Might be the cheater's way, but I like it and it gets rave reviews.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 med. garlic clove, finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth or stock (I make it from boullion granules)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 med. bay leaf
1 cup medium egg noodles (heaping if you like lots of noodles)
2 cups bite-sized pieces of cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large pot (dutch oven or so size), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring frequenly, for 5 to 7 minutes until veggies are tender.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes with juice, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the noodles and cook for 7 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook until chicken is heated through. Remove bay leaf before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

I also will sometimes add a good dollop of green chile or a dash of crushed red pepper if I want to kick it up a notch. I keep leftover cooked chicken in the freezer so making this soup can be done pretty much on the spur of the moment.

Hope you enjoy it!
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Wow ... Based on the two responses I got, I realize that I've got a lot of work to do. I've never made a stock before, so I guess I'll do some more internet searching on it before I attempt it.

I thought it would be a lot of work at first, but it's really not. First I'll give some tips on the long way, then I'll give you some short cut tips.

What I do is buy a whole chicken when they're on sale for $0.59-$0.79 a pound. I can get about 3 meals out of this one chicken for me and DF. First I roast it and throw some root veggies in the pan, meal one. After dinner I take the meat off the bones and throw all the bones into my biggest pot. I throw in a few ribs of celery and a handful of baby carrots. I cut an onion into quarters skins and all and throw that in too. Add a little pepper and some fresh herbs and you're in business. Throw this on the stove and let it simmer until you go to bed. I let it sit overnight, strain in the morning before work. Toss the solids. Refrigerate until I get home from work. Skim the fat and freeze.

I've found that my stock is much better than store bought. It ends up being much mroe gelatinous and has a richer texture in my soup.

For the soup....

Take the stock, homemade or bought. Taste it. Add salt to taste. If it doesn't taste chickeny enough, add some "Better than Boullion" brand chicken stock concentrate. (this is some of the best stuff on the face of the earth.) While this comes up to a simmer, chop a small onion, a couple ribs of celery and a handful of baby carrots. If you cut them pretty small they all take about the same time to cook, so it doesn't matter what order they go into the pot. Bring this up to a boil. My finacee likes to have dumplings, so I take this opportunity to make them, drop them in and cook. Just use bisquick, 10 minutes uncovered, add chicken. Cook 10 more minutes covered. Serve.

It's really easy once you do it a couple times. I was always scared of it, but I figured out that it's a no brainer and it can be done in about 30 minutes.

billyturtle
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First of all I highly recommend the book "Soup, a way of life" by Barbara Kafka.

Second, if you wish to use premade stock under no circumstances use buillion cubes. If you have a Trader Joe's or "health foods" section of your supermarket, use the square boxes of stock. Otherwise use low-salt cans you can find in your soup section, but the stuff in the boxes is better.

- Megan
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is there a way to take some baby steps and maybe buy a stock for my first soup to get the hang of it

Well, yes, you can buy stock and start with that. But making stock is just so easy.........you can't do it wrong.

Whenever I buy chicken, I freeze the odd bits and ends I cut off. (Since I'm frugal, I'll buy a whole chicken and cut it up for parts - then I save the carcass, etc.) If I bone parts for use in a recipe, I save the bones, etc. (As I said before, the "bony" parts make the best stock INVHO.) I know some folks use the carcass of a roasted bird (I only do that with turkey).

Believe me, there is nothing more homey and comforting that the smell of that stock simmering on the stove. And it's really not a lot of work - once you throw everything into the pot, all you need to do is skim off the scum now and then and give the pot a stir.

If you do decide to start with "store bought" stock, please read the ingredients first. There is a ton of salt (no kidding, a ton!) in a lot of them - look for low-sodium, etc.

Christina
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Second, if you wish to use premade stock under no circumstances use buillion cubes

Megan:

So glad to read your post and know that I'm not the only one preaching the "loaded with salt", etc. lesson.

Christina
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Any advice/suggestions for someone starting out with soup? Any good recipes that are a good basis for (hopefully!) a successful soup batch? FYI - both myself and my BF prefer spicy soups that are NOT cream based.

First question--do you want to attempt to make your own stock, or start with store bought? Some of the store bought ones are okay, like Swanson's low sodium. If you use store bought, I'd add some cooked chicken to the soup as it will help the flavor.

If you're more adventuresome, you can make your own stock. Start with about 4 pounds of chicken wings. Add a few carrots, celery, onions, a bay leaf or two and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 4 to 6 hours, keeping at a simmer and adding more water when necessary. For about the first hour there will be some scum that rises to the top of the pot. Just skim it off and toss it. You can also pick the meat from the bones to add back into the soup if you like.

When the stock is done, strain into a clean pot. Chill and the next day remove the fat that has accumulated on the top. Now you have homemade chicken stock. (You don't need to add more chicken when you make soup as the stock will be very "chickeny.")

Second question--what types of veggies do you like? I always put carrots and celery in my chicken soup, then it just depends on what else is in the crisper. You can either sweat the veggies or let them cook in the soup.

Third question--what type of starch? If you use potatoes, don't put them in too early as they can break down. You can also add a cup of rice or barley for the starch.

Fourth question--seasonings? If you like spicy soup, you can add red pepper flakes or powdered chipotle or your favorite sauce to spice it up a bit. If there's an Asian market nearby, I recommend tamarind soup base. Just add it to your soup when you begin to cook. It adds a slightly tangy very bright flavor to the soup and it improves over time.

Have fun!

Kira
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I want to try my hand at making a chicken/veggie/potato soup some time next week, and I've looked up some recipes online that I think will be good, but I'm really not sure what I'm looking for. I've never even attempted to make soup before besides the stuff that comes out of a can.

Any advice/suggestions for someone starting out with soup? Any good recipes that are a good basis for (hopefully!) a successful soup batch? FYI - both myself and my BF prefer spicy soups that are NOT cream based.


Are you making your own chicken stock or are you using pre-made? If you are making your own, I highly suggest roasting the chicke bones first. It adds tons of flavor. Add the meat last.
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Thanks for the suggestions, and if you guys have any others, please pass them on!

Soup is one of those foods that change from person to person. I'm cheap, and I really hate throwin away food, so my veggies stay in the soup. BTW, soup for us is a way to use the leftovers we might still have in the fridge, so my method is a bit different from Christina's.

When we have roast chicken, I take the meat off the bones, and toss both into separate ziplock bags and freeze. When I have a few skeletons in the freezer, I take them out and toss the bones into a roaster pan and roast until dark brown, but not burned.

I then toss all the bones into a stockpot with some water, and put on a low boil. I add the spices I want somewhere in this timeframe. I keep this on a low boil for several hours. I then strain the bones out, and return the liquid to the pot.

I add the various veggies I want (usually onions, celery especially leaves, carrots, parsnips, and any leftover veggies in the fridge), and again put it on a low boil. When the veggies are about half done, I add the chunked, cooked chicken. Just before serving, I add extra-wide egg noodles.

The soup refrigerates well if you haven't added the noodles, so I try to figure out how much we'll eat that evening and put the rest away.
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Well, yes, you can buy stock and start with that. But making stock is just so easy.........you can't do it wrong.

One of the things that hasn't been already said is that homemade stock can be quite healthy. I don't know how canned or boxed chicken stock is prepared so I can't really comment on that. But, as Christina and Megan pointed out, avoid the stuff with tons of sodium.

As has been pointed out in the past here, good stock comes out looking like "chicken jello"!! (but liquifies when warmed) All of that collagen and elastin gets dissolved from the skin and lots of chondroitan sulfate and other glycosaminoglycans get dissolved from the cartilage and connective tissue. Some people pay lots of money to get this stuff in pills!

Simmering the bones also leaches out lots of calcium from the bones. I suspect that, "in the old days," people got a lot more of these nutrients in their diet. But, nowadays, we tend to eat highly processed foods and butchered meats, etc, and don't even get any bones to gnaw on.
I've read articles that claim that eating chicken cartilage is good for treatment or prevention of arthritis.

So, homemade chicken stock... I love it and always have lots of 2-cup packages frozen in my freezer. It's not just frugal, it is very healthy for the diet.


OleDoc

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I suspect that, "in the old days," people got a lot more of these nutrients in their diet. But, nowadays, we tend to eat highly processed foods and butchered meats, etc, and don't even get any bones to gnaw on.


Processed foods are a lot more expensive, too. This fact was brought home to me when my homeschool group was discussing food bills. I was astounded to discover that their food bills we nearly the same as mine. We ALWAYS have company over, and we eat a lot of extravagant foods, and I always seem to be bringing food to some event.
The difference is that I make almost everything from scratch, and I buy large chunks of meat and do my own butchering. They buy everything already processed or butchered.
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Any advice/suggestions for someone starting out with soup? Any good recipes that are a good basis for (hopefully!) a successful soup batch? FYI - both myself and my BF prefer spicy soups that are NOT cream based.

I tend to agree with most of the other posters with one or two minor differences. If you can find it, use an old stewing chicken or a roasting chicken for your stock - they have more flavor (and are tougher) than frying chickens. I usually have plenty of chicken stock in the freezer from trimming fryer leg quarters prior to smoking them so I don't follow my own advise. Since you like a spicy soup, you might want to try this gumbo; http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/soups/chicken10.htm.

Since you probably don't have access to real andouille sausage, you can use regular spicy smoked sausage or order some of the real stuff from http://www.jacobsandouille.com/. You will want to have it vacuum bagged and sent via the mail (see;http://www.jacobsandouille.com/order.htm). You might also want a chunk or three of tasso bagged and sent to you. Since they are well smoked, they should make it to you fine. I took about 6 or 5 pounds of the stuff with me when we went to Micronesia two summers ago. It survived the trip ok but I had some strange looks from the security people that opened my bags in LA and Hawaii. ;-)

C.J.V.
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