All great soup begins with great stock, and the greatest stock begins at home.
Chicken stock is the most affable of all the stocks and will imbue even the simplest one-ingredient soup with an incomparable silky depth. If you want vegetarian soup then you can make good use of vegetable stock, and in many instances, water will suffice, but if you have no such restrictions then chicken stock is the way to go.
There are a lot of soups that won’t fit into the following guidelines, but there are far more that actually do, so it is knowledge worth cultivating! See below for the Secrets to Great Soup.
Great Stock for a Great Soup
The most accessible route to chicken stock for today’s average cook is the leftover carcass from a roast chicken, either roasted for purpose and destined for soups, sandwiches, or the remains of a roast dinner.
Remove any skin, especially from the back, chop the carcass, and don’t forget all the wing tips, leg bones etc. Get it all in a large pan with half an onion, half a carrot, and a bay leaf. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil and then turn down to gently simmer for around 2 hours, topping with water if necessary.
Make sure it does not bubble too rapidly or the stock will turn out bitter and greasy. Skim any scum that comes to the surface; it is only protein particles from the meat and bones but you want the stock to be as clear as possible. You can get some pretty decent ready-made stock but it does bump up the cost and defeat the purpose of what should be an economical dish. Use it if you need to; it still beats water. A stock cube, on the other hand, doesn’t. Avoid at all costs.