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What you need to know for 11/24/2017

Mom’s Chicken Wing Soup just perfect on a rainy night

Mom’s Chicken Wing Soup just perfect on a rainy night

'Don't season the soup until it's done'
Mom’s Chicken Wing Soup just perfect on a rainy night
Gelatin in the finished soup gives the broth great body and flavor.
Photographer: Caroline Lee/For The Daily Gazette

Why use wings to make soup? Because they contain gelatin, which gives the broth terrific body and a luxurious mouth feel. The meat from the wings comes in just the right-sized tender pieces. All those bones give the broth a lot of flavor. Also, the wings don’t produce a lot of stuff that needs to be skimmed.

After the soup is refrigerated the gelatin makes the broth firm. You could slice it with a knife.

I asked Mom recently about this recipe, which she’d never written down.  She gave me the short version: “You need that big package of fresh chicken wings from the supermarket; chop up some vegetables, and fill a big pot with water to cover it all.”

“What kind of vegetables?” I asked.  “Carrot, celery, a whole onion.  I like garlic.  Add some parsley and use the celery tops. And wash the chicken first. Cover it with water and cook it for two to three hours,” she said.

Mom uses only water to make her soup, but I use chicken broth in all my cooking, and call for it here.

You can use whatever you like.

I put the vegetables and seasonings and rinshed chicken wings into a pot and added three 14.5-ounce cans of chicken broth. I rinsed the empty cans with cold water and poured that into the pot until until there was enough liquid to cover everything.  And I it cooked until the chicken wings started to fall apart.  It took about two hours. The house smelled great.

When the chicken wings were cooked through and tender, I removed it to a plate to cool.  I discarded the parsley and celery tops and reduced the broth until I thought it was flavorful enough, about another half-hour.  Then I separated the meat from the skin and bones and added it back into the broth.

If you want, cook as much pasta or egg noodles as you want until al dente, but store in a separate container. Don’t add them back or they’ll soak up all that gorgeous broth. 

When ready to serve, heat the soup and put some cold cooked noodles in the bowl and spoon the hot soup over.

“Don’t season the soup until it’s done,” Mom had said. I added about a half-teaspoon of sea salt in increments until it tasted right and when we sat down on a rainy night with a bowl each a few hours later, husband Eric and I thought it was perfect.

Mom’s Chicken Wing Soup

1 large package of fresh chicken wings (the one I used was just under 4 pounds), rinsed in cold water
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
few sprigs parsley
1 spring fresh thyme, or a dash of dried thyme (optional)
5 or six peppercorns
3 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
Water, to cover the ingredients
Sea salt, to taste
Cooked noodles or pasta, to add to the finished soup.

Chop the carrot, celery, onion and add them to the pot. Add garlic, parsley, peppercorns and thyme.

Pour the broth over, rinse the cans with enough cold water to cover all. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for about two hours, until the chicken is falling apart. Skim any scum off the top while it simmers.

Remove chicken to a plate, take the meat off the bones and place in a separate bowl and refrigerate.

Remove the parsley, thyme, peppercorns and celery tops and cook the liquid down until you are satisfied with its flavor and volume. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add the chicken meat back to the broth.

Cook the noodles in a separate saucepan until just al dente. Drain, and remove to a container to store in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, heat the soup until very hot but not boiling. Put cooked noodles into a bowl and spoon hot soup over.

Serves 4 for a meal, with salad and bread.

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