The secret to making perfect chicken soup, according to a golf-club chef

Few things beat a hearty chicken soup on a cold day.

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Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.

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It’s the dead of winter. Maybe you’ve just finished shoveling snow. Or scraping ice off the windshield. Or salting the driveway.

Or maybe you’re just shivering in the cold

When the temperature drops at Liberty National Golf Club, in New Jersey, where I work as assistant general manager and executive chef, I like to serve chicken soup as a gird against the chill.

It’s hearty, healthy, and belly-warming. And I’ve shared my recipe for it below.

Maybe you’ve got your own favorite method. Don’t let me stop you from following it. Just promise me that you’ll abide by a few simple rules.

USE HOMEMADE BROTH

Most store-brought broths and bouillon cubes are little more than salty water. A homemade base is so much better, well worth the extra effort.

BROTH > STOCK

The difference is stock is made with bones, while broth is made with bones and meat. I recommend the latter. For starters, broth tends to be more flavorful and gelatinous. You can also preserve the meat and add it back to the soup.

KEEP THE JUNK OUT

Whether you’re making stock or broth, you want to keep them clear, not cloudy. Start by rinsing off the bones in cold water. Then, add the bones to your pot with an ice-cold gallon of water and slowly bring to a simmer, letting the impurities float to the top. Skim off with a large spoon or ladle. After you get that out, add your mirepoix (chopped vegatables) and simmer for two hours, skimming fat and other impurities every 20 minutes or so. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Throughout the process, take care not to let your stock or broth come to a roiling boil, as that will break down the ingredients, setting loose more impurities.

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ROAST FOR FULLER FLAVOR

You can amp up the flavor of your stock or broth by roasting the bones and mirepoix until golden brown. This makes for richer, full-bodied stock or broth. Be sure to scrape any of the brown pieces from roasting pan and add to your stock or broth.

USE THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS

A good ratio to go with is:

4 pounds chicken/bones per gallon of water

1/2-pound Mirepoix – 50 percent onions, 25 percent carrots, 25 percent celery

Aromatics: 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon peppercorn, ½ bunch thyme

SHAUN’S CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 roaster chicken, 4 to 5 pounds 
2 knobs celery root
1 wax turnip
2 white turnips
6 large carrots
3 medium size leeks
4 large parsnips
1 head of garlic, split
2 Bay leaves
1 bunch of thyme
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley
1 pound ditalini pasta (optional)

Note: The better your ingredients, the better your soup. Get the freshest possible vegetables and the highest quality chicken you can find, preferably free-range and organic.

The chicken will probably be about 4 1/2 pounds. You want to break it down into eight pieces, with the meat kept on the bone. You can do this yourself or have your butcher do it for you.

Using the freshest possible ingredients makes a big difference.

Shaun Lewis

Method:

Fill a large pot with cold water, add your chicken pieces and bring to a simmer on the stovetop, with a pinch of salt, garlic, Bay leaf, and thyme.

While the chicken is cooking, peel and prep your veggies, chopping them into “walnut size” pieces and reserving them in prep bowls.

By the time you’re finished with your veggie prep, your chicken should be cooked. With a slotted spoon remove the chicken pieces and set them aside to cool. Skim out anything floating on top of the pot, then remove garlic, thyme, and Bay leaf.

Add your wax turnips. These are the densest of the vegetables and will take the longest to cook. Make sure the pot is at a gentle simmer. After the wax turnips have been cooking for five minutes, add the carrots. After another five minutes, add the rest of your vegetables and let cook for 15 minutes more. Turn off the heat. In a separate pot, prepare your pasta (if you’re using it). Take care not to overcook the pasta. But don’t leave it al dente, either. You want it cooked through until it’s tender. If it’s not cooked enough, the noodles will absorb the stock.

While pasta is cooking, wash the parsley under cold running water, shake it off and wrap it in a paper towel to dry before chopping it roughly. No need for a fine cut here; this is a rustic, country soup. Add your pasta and parsley to the soup and finish by seasoning with fresh ground black pepper and salt.

Once it’s all done, I like to put it in quart-size takeout containers. This helps it cool down faster and it’s ready to go out for delivery or into the freezer when it’s cool.

Serve with crusty bread and grated pecorino Romano cheese. Pairs well with Golf Channel re-runs.

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