Soups

Classic Chicken Broth

MAKES about 8 cups

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Great homemade chicken broth can improve everything you cook with it, not only soup but also risotto, bean dishes, sauces, and more. This broth delivers rich flavor and full body with almost no hands-on work. Our classic approach to making chicken broth calls for gently simmering a mix of chicken backs and wings in water for several hours. The long, slow simmer helped the bones and meat release both deep flavor and gelatin, which created a viscous consistency. We chose a combination of backs and wings not only for their convenience (they didn’t need to be hacked into smaller pieces) but because, in addition to a little muscle and fat, these parts contain relatively high levels of collagen, found especially in the skin and joints. The collagen broke down into gelatin during cooking, which added thick richness to the broth. We deliberately left out breasts because they offer little collagen. Because we wanted our broth to taste as chicken-y as possible, we used only chopped onion and bay leaves for flavoring; they added just enough dimension and flavor to the broth without making it taste too vegetal. Chicken backs are often available at supermarket butcher counters during colder months. You can also save and freeze backs if you butcher whole chickens at home. If you have a large pot (at least 12 quarts), you can easily double this recipe to make 1 gallon.

  • 4 pounds chicken backs and wings
  • 14 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  1. Heat chicken and water in large stockpot or Dutch oven over mediumhigh heat until boiling, skimming off any scum that comes to surface. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 3 hours.
  2. Add onion, bay leaves, and salt and continue to simmer for another 2 hours.
  3. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into large pot or container,
    pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Let broth settle for about 5 minutes, then skim off fat. (Cooled broth can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
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