Friday, January 13, 2006

Mother of all soups - the Chicken Bouillon and a Bouillon-based vegetable soup

Almost all the soups I do are best made with a basis of a chicken bouillon. In some cases, you could do with just water, but usually the bouillon changes the soup from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’. I never use flavoring powders and the like. They are full of mono-sodium glutamate, which is unhealthy and sometimes difficult to digest…

Clear Chicken Bouillon


  • ~2 kg chicken parts. I usually prefer the neck. If I can’t find necks I use wings. Chicken comes out much better than turkey, in my opinion.
  • 1 large celery root
  • 1 or 2 parsley roots
  • Various herbs for a “bouquet garnis”. I use mostly parsley and celery but feel free to use also coriander, dill or whatever you like.
  • (optional) 1 or 2 small dried hot peppers
  • 4-5 bay-tree leaves (“Laurier” in French or “Dafna” in Hebrew or “Laurus nobilis” in Latin)


  • Put all the ingredients in a large, high cooking pan.
  • Fill with water such that all the ingredients are totally covered.
  • Let it boil. Beware – the content has a tendency to overflow when the fire is too high. If it does overflow, it becomes really messy, so once it reaches boiling temperature, make sure to lower the heat.
  • Leave it at boiling temperature for 2-3 hours (more towards 3..). Stir once in a while and make sure everything is covered by water. During the whole cooking, leave the cover almost closed (i.e. leave a small gap for the superfluous steam to get out). Some notes should be made at this point:
    • If you leave the cover completely open, the soup will dry out to quickly and you’ll be left with too few liquid.
    • If you leave the cover completely closed, there’s a good chance it will overflow. Don’t blame me at that point!
    • If you stop cooking too early, the soup won’t have enough tastes.
  • When it’s ready, transfer it to a large container, preferably one that is transparent and has a thin bottom (explanations why in a second). Make sure to filter out everything: the chicken, the herbs and especially the hot peppers. I usually give the chicken to my dog and dispose of all the rest.
  • You may have some remaining residue in the new container – don’t worry about it for the moment.
  • Leave it in the refrigerator for several hours (I leave it for the night).
  • In the morning, what you should have in your container is a somewhat jelly-like substance. On the bottom you should see the entire residue, and on the top there is a layer of pure fat. Sometimes the fat can become creamy of even crusty; sometimes it’s much like heavy oil.
  • The idea is to keep the jelly and drop the rest (fat and residue). Since the bouillon has become jelly, it’s a really easy job:
    • With a spoon you scratch all the fat and dispose of it.
    • Then you can extract the bouillon while leaving the residue in the container.
  • That’s it! Now you have a strong, clear and rather low in fat bouillon. You could either keep it in small containers in the freezer for later use (either in soups or other dishes) or make some really good soup out of it right away!!

Very Simple Vegetable (but not Vegetarian) Soup


  • Strong, fresh, chicken bouillon
  • Veggies J . I usually use the following:
    • 3-4 pealed, sliced carrots
    • 2 leeks (or 2 onions)
    • Pumpkin (in cubes)
    • 2-3 cloves of garlic, cut into slices
    • (optional) half a cauliflower (“Kruvit” in Hebrew), in small pieces


  • Just put everything in a large cooking pan. Make sure there is enough bouillon to cover all the vegetables. Let it boil and leave it at boiling temperature for about 1 hour. Don’t let it overflow!
  • When it’s ready, you can add spices. I would suggest only some salt. Since here in Israel the chicken comes already salted due to the koshering process, I actually don’t add anything.


  • If you want to give it an oriental taste, you can add the following spices (all or part).:
    • Coriander (I’d add it to the bouillon)
    • Cumin
    • Turmeric
    • A tiny bit of Cardamom (“Hel” in Hebrew)
    • 2-3 Cloves (“Ziporen” in Hebrew) – I’d add it to the bouillon as well

Well, I think that’s it for now. The next soups (not necessarily in that order) will be: “French Onion Soup”, “Rich Meat and Lentil Soup” and maybe “Simple Pea Soup”.

Bon Appetit

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