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The Clearest Chicken Soup

Photo Credit: Sina Mizrahi

Chicken soup is comfort in a bowl, especially when the broth is deeply rich and golden. Preparing it seems so straightforward — combine chicken, vegetables, aromatics, and seasoning in a pot and let it simmer away endlessly on the back burner.

But what about skimming the foam as it bubbles to the surface? Can we ignore the task, or will it compromise the clear broth we’re after?

I set out to discover if letting the foam reabsorb made any difference in the outcome, because simplifying the simple is the goal.

Golden Chicken Soup


  • 6 chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 1 parsnip, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed (optional)
  • 1 bunch parsley or cilantro
  • ½ lemon (optional)
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper or 1 tsp whole peppercorns

Season chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a 5-quart soup pot over medium heat for 3–5 minutes. Add a drop of oil. Sear the chicken on all sides until golden, about 2–3 minutes per side. This gives the broth color and flavor. Add 1 cup water and scrape the bottom of the pot to get any stuck-on bits.

Combine the vegetables, parsley, and lemon (if using) in a fine mesh bag and tie a knot. Add it to the pot along with the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the mixture. Bring to a rolling boil. Skim the foam as the soup cooks or ignore it. Cover and reduce heat to low, ensuring the soup is at a steady simmer.

Cook for 8–12 hours, or until the broth is deep and golden. Cool. Remove mesh bag and chicken or strain the soup. Separate meat from the chicken; discard bones and skin. Store chicken and vegetables in separate containers. Ladle broth over them to keep them moist.

To serve, divide chicken and vegetables into bowls and ladle broth over them; serve hot. Optional: add fresh herbs.

My Verdict

I made the soup two ways; one time skimming the foam and the other leaving it to bubble and reabsorb into the soup. After the soups finished cooking and cooling, I found no difference in appearance between them, and let me tell you, I really strained my eyes looking for one. Both broths were clear, deep, golden. You know what that means — skip the skimming.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 774)

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