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Chicken Soup 101

While many recipes call for just scraps and bones, two plump whole birds, along with plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables, yield an especially deep-flavored broth that sets this one apart.

  • Yield: Makes 12 to 14 cups stock or 10 servings soup

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2006


For the stock:

  • 2 whole chickens (4 to 5 pounds each), rinsed well
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 4 large celery stalks with leaves, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 2 large onions, quartered (do not peel)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns

For the soup:

  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces egg noodles (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Make the stock: Season chickens with salt, and place in a 12-quart stockpot. Add 5 quarts water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, skimming foam, until cooked through, about 40 minutes.

  2. Remove 1 chicken; set aside to cool, about 15 minutes. Shred meat; reserve for soup or another use. Return bones to pot. Meanwhile, add vegetables, dill, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns to pot with remaining chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat 2 hours, skimming foam as needed.

  3. Prepare an ice-water bath. Ladle stock through a fine sieve into a large bowl set in the ice-water bath, pressing to extract liquid. Discard all solids. Season stock with salt. Refrigerate in an airtight container overnight. Remove fat from surface of stock, and discard. Stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days, or frozen up to 3 months.

  4. Make the soup: Bring stock to a boil in a large pot. Add vegetables. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 15 minutes. (Add noodles, if desired, after 10 minutes.) Add dill and reserved shredded chicken; cook until chicken is heated and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook's Notes

Two birds are better than one for the best-tasting soup; look for free-range chickens, which are the most flavorful.

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