Brodo di pollo – chicken soup

Recipe (2 hours) — Last updated 02 August 2018

Serves: 12 (generously) 

Prep time: 5-10 minutes. Cooking: 2 hours.

Dairy free, gluten free

  • 1 whole chicken, about 1.5 kg, preferably organic
  • 1 large brown onion, cut in half
  • 2-3 celery stalks (some leaves remaining), cut into thirds
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and quartered
  • ½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley, including stalks
  • 7-8 litres of water
  • Salt and pepper to season (about 1 dessertspoon salt for whole pot)

Place chicken and vegetables in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, simmer for an hour. Add salt and pepper and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and easily pulls off the bones.

Remove the chicken and all vegetables from broth, set aside.

Strain the broth into a bowl through a fine metal strainer to catch any remaining chicken or vegetables.

Pull the chicken meat off the bones.

Serving suggestions:

The broth can be consumed immediately as a soup, or stored in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the little bit of fat that has risen to the top of the brodo can be skimmed off with a tea strainer and discarded before use (or before freezing to use as needed).

Serve with some of the cooked chicken (and cooked carrot if desired), or with polpette di pollo (chicken meatballs — see the Jean Hailes Kitchen for the recipe) and noodles or pasta as an option. Use as a stock for risotto, or on its own as a late afternoon pick-me-up instead of packaged soup.

Apart from in the soup, the cooked chicken can be used in a few ways: for lunches with a salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard; in sandwiches combined with mashed avocado, chopped parsley, lemon or lime juice, salt and black pepper; frozen in portions for next week's lunch; or for tomorrow night's chicken and mushroom pie.

One of the health messages that I like to give is about investing in your health through healthy eating – investing the time to source, prepare and enjoy the food. But many women are time poor, so we need to make it easy for ourselves. It takes just minutes to throw all the ingredients of this soup into a pot. It then cooks without needing any additional effort, and the dividends are sufficient for several extra meals.

Being Italian, there was always brodo on hand in the freezer that my mother had made, and whipped out and served as soon as anyone was feeling poorly. My parents would often make the brodo from a home-reared chicken, and my mother still always has some on hand for the grandchildren (my children constantly remind me that nonna's brodo is better than mine; I think because she leaves the skin on, which adds to the flavour).

The aroma, warmth and flavour of brodo represents comfort to me and my family. Other cultures also draw on the perceived healing benefits of this broth, also known as 'Jewish penicillin', as it has long been regarded as a remedy to help with symptoms of colds. Indeed, a few years ago some researchers from the US suggested that chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.

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