The Value of Soups Vol 1
Soup is a topic that I feel has great value and for that reason I will follow this with a part 2. Often, the best foods in this world also have the most humble beginnings. Foods that are born from this existence typically have purpose and soul. Soup just happens to be a prime example of this. The original idea of soup was that it allowed the utilization of seemingly worthless ingredients to be transformed into something nourishing and life sustaining during lean times.In most cases we are talking about a big bowl of something deeply satisfying. Like a big bowl of borsht laden with sour cream and butter or a beyond porky rich bowl of tonkotsu ramen noodles. Or maybe it’s a rustic slow braised ox tail and barley full of luscious gelatin. The bottom line is soups are quite capable of supporting life and providing great comfort and all from very meager beginnings.
Soup also is one of a few preparations that have a common thread throughout the world. Every area of the world has a soup that defines that region. Each soup ends up being an amazing representation of the geography, climate, history and culture from where it originates. When you sample a soup from a specific region of the world, you get a glimpse into the people and the culture.
The starting point at which a professional chef begins his or her culinary journey, is typically with learning and understanding the importance of making a rich, flavorful broth as a foundation to build on. There is a lot to be said for executing this process of gently coaxing nutrients and flavors out of simple ingredients for the perfect end results. What I have always loved about this process is that it forces us to slow down and practice patience. There is little that can be done to speed up the process and I am just fine with that.
A simple, yet flavorful, chicken broth can be a thing of beauty on its own. Enjoying broth on its own has a warm soothing feeling on your tummy and comes with a multitude of health benefits including healthier skin, joints and digestive track. Below is a guide to building a basic chicken bone broth just for sipping on or as a base for your next homemade soup
Start with a variety of raw chicken bones. The better the quality of the birds that these come from, the better quality your end product will be. Consider chicken parts that are high in connective tissue since these contain the most collagen. Major points are gained if using wing tips and chicken feet, but you are not alone if you come up empty handed when searching for these. I keep my eyes open for any and all decent chicken bones and collect them in the freezer until I have a sufficient quantity and a suitable day.
5 lb. Fresh Chicken Bones
8 L of cold water
2 T kosher salt
4 stalks of celery – large diced
4 peeled carrots – large diced
2 onions – large diced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 T. black peppercorn
1 T cider vinegar (optional)
Add bones to large stockpot. Cover with water, sprinkle in salt and turn on high burner. Allow to begin coming to a simmer. As the stock heats, some of the impurities and proteins begin to coagulate and rise to the surface. This will need to be skimmed with a large ladle during this period of time or the impurities will eventually cook back into the stalk and the final product will not have a nice clean flavor. Once the stock has been skimmed and has come to a gentle simmer, bay leaf, thyme, pepper corns and vinegar (if using) can be added. Allow broth to simmer for 6 – 8 hours. Strain with a fine sieve and cool. This will hold in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days and will freeze well for 6+ months.