I present you with a blueprint for broth as an excuse, more than anything, to talk about feelings! The good kind. We all have them.
Neither Tim nor I had the childhood recollection of homemade chicken soup. This, however, did not stop us from cultivating chicken soup-shaped nostalgia as grown-ups, borrowed from cookbooks, stories and other people’s kitchens. In the present day, we simmer chickens and vegetables at each other whenever Opportunity presents herself, perpetuating, sentimentally, the soup cycle.
Back home in January, a $2 coin bought us a 14-year-old copy of Appetite – a confident recipe book to savour and pore over in particularly bad weather. I turn time and again to Nigel Slater for his sumptuous writings; his words are an antidote to those who would tediously fearmonger about food! In contrast, he advocates respectful indulgence, and a healthy relationship to what we eat, borne of awareness and pleasure. I couldn’t agree with him more. He encourages us to seek quality ingredients as one’s budget allows, learn when to compromise and when not to, and to try to keep calm. That, too, is important.
For practical questions regarding the hows and whys of chicken broth there are well-researched (and ever-enjoyable) answers at Serious Eats on making basic broth. They recommend a minimum 1:2 ratio (by weight) of chicken parts to water for an excellently flavourful stock. We tend to use a little more water out of habit, to be sure to cover the chicken – it seems to work very well, but as science dictates, much like homeopathy doesn’t: the less diluted, the more concentrated the remedy (!)
The idea is to begin with a versatile broth, and it takes 1 1/2 – 2 hours of gentle cooking (köcheln!) to itself in your largest pot. Many would simmer their broths a lot longer, and the choice of aromatics is yours alone. You can do no wrong. You have all the time in the world to do other lovely things, visiting the pot from time to time to taste its progress and fog your glasses.
The kind of broth we make in our kitchen
~1 kg of chicken (bone-in thighs and chicken wings, or a half-chicken)
2 – 3 litres cold water
celery or celery root, diced
a few scattered peppercorns
small bunch of parsley stalks
Rinse chicken pieces, add with cold water to your largest pot, and bring gently to a simmer. During this time, you could skim away the grey-ish foam that gathers at the top (composed of proteins, accused of clouding broths) but only if it pleases you. If you aren’t skimming (as you can just as easily strain through a fine sieve afterwards) just add everything in with the chicken and leave be. Open a good
bottle of wine and empty it gradually into your face book. Keep soup at the gentlest simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Depending on how much wine you have been drinking, the soup may or may not notify you of its readiness. To avoid miscommunication, use a timer that exists firmly in reality and manually turn off the stove when the doorbell rings.
When time is up, you lift out the chicken, salvaging pieces for yourself and the carnivorous animals in your life before transferring the intended broth – alongside noodles or Grießnockerln (puffy semolina dumplings), chicken pieces, herbs, salt and pepper – into large bowls for immediate consumption.
The rest will be allowed to cool unadorned and be divided into portions for any variety of future soups, and superb things.