Globally-renowned for its restorative nature, chicken and noodle soup is far greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s also highly adaptable. Moreover, like many dishes, it relies on a base of (ideally homemade) chicken stock – a culinary cornerstone that’s easy to prepare and also utilises vegetables and parts of the animal that may otherwise go to waste.
At its most simple, chicken stock is made by boiling the bird’s carcass and trimmings alongside a selection of vegetables and aromatics. Yet over the past decade, there’s been plenty of confusion when it comes to distinguishing between various iterations and similarities. Chicken stock, broth, bone broth: what’s the difference?
While stock is an ingredient primarily made from bones and vegetables, broth is made from meat. Both are very similar but follow slightly different cooking and preparation methods. The term ‘bone broth’, however, is a relative newcomer, having grown in popularity as a result of wellness and paleo trends. Most chefs agree that ‘bone broth’ is a term devised by manufacturers to differentiate between product offerings, therefore primarily used for marketing purposes. Others believe stock and bone broth are the exact same thing. The term is contradictory considering broth isn’t traditionally made from bones, and brings even more confusion when trying to differentiate between stocks and broths.
Regardless of its name, stock does have health benefits, full of easily absorbable nutrients. Unlike broths, stock is cooked for hours to coerce the bones to break down so additional flavour and collagen are extracted. In addition to bringing desirable viscosity to the stock, collagen is also said to improve skin and hair quality, to relieve joint pain, and to help with gut health.
This chicken stock recipe is simmered for at least four hours (and up to 12), with the chicken bones, trimmings, and vegetables browned in a high oven to add even more depth to the stock. This step can also be skipped to produce a lighter stock. Like many dishes, the recipe can also be adapted to taste, ideally used as a canvas for using up leftovers and ultimately reducing food waste. The same can be said for the chicken and noodle soup recipe, which is ready to eat in just 35 minutes, and can even be made with shop-bought stock (although homemade is significantly tastier). The only essentials are chicken, stock, and noodles (or dumplings, pasta shapes, or another alternative). I like to add a generous splash of soy sauce to the soup while cooking, alongside some chilli, coriander, spring onion, grated ginger, and lemongrass.
Chicken stock recipe
- Large stock pot or saucepan
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve
- 1 chicken carcass including wings if possible
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 3 carrots roughly chopped
- 1 leek roughly sliced
- 2 sticks celery roughly sliced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bulb garlic cut through the centre to expose the cloves
- A few sprigs parsley
- A few sprigs thyme
- 2 tsp peppercorns
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.
- Cut the chicken’s spine into 1-2 inch pieces and add to a roasting tray with the rest of the bones, wings, and wing tips, being sure not to waste any chicken. Add the onion, carrots, leek, celery and garlic to the tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown. (This step is optional. If you’d like a lighter stock, add the raw ingredients straight to a stock pot).
- Transfer the chicken bones and vegetables to a large stock pot or saucepan, fill with cold water and bring to the boil. While heating, add the bay leaves, herbs, and peppercorns to the pan. Do not add salt at this point.
- As the liquid heats, skim the surface with a spoon or ladle to remove any scum that forms.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover and gently simmer for at least 4 hours, adding more water if need be.
- Strain through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve and taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste.
Chicken and noodle soup recipe
- 1 chicken breast fillet skinless
- 2 chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 100 g egg noodles
- 2 l chicken stock
- 1 red chilli deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 4 spring onions finely sliced, green and white parts separated
- Thumb-sized piece ginger grated
- ½ stick lemongrass grated
- Small tin sweetcorn drained
- A few sprigs coriander roughly sliced
- Soy sauce to taste, approx. 2 tbsp
- Black pepper
- In a large saucepan, add the chilli, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and spring onion whites and cook over high heat for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Pour the stock into the pan and add the chicken. Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Keep simmering the soup but remove the chicken onto a chopping board. When cool enough to handle, thinly slice the thighs and return to the saucepan. Shred the chicken breast with two forks and return to the pan alongside a generous splash of soy sauce, sweetcorn, coriander, the spring onions’ green ends, and enough noodles for one serving.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes until the noodles are soft and cooked. (Only cook enough noodles for the amount of soup you plan on eating, as they’ll go very soft and unpleasant if re-heated. If you do plan on re-heating the soup, add the noodles and cook fresh).
- Ladle into large bowls and finish with a few cracks of black pepper and additional soy sauce, to taste.