The basic chicken-poaching technique is the foundation for thousands of recipes: Any dish that uses chicken stock or shredded chicken starts here. It also serves as the master recipe for all broth-based chicken soups—chicken pho, chicken noodle, and tomato-chicken soup all build off the same technique.
Most soup ingredients don’t need to cook for the whole 1 hour and 15 minutes it takes to boil a whole chicken, so add them to the broth in order of slowest- to quickest-cooking ingredient.
Things You'll Need
For one whole chicken, chop 1 pound of onions and 1/2 pound each of carrots and celery.
Place the chicken in a large stockpot and cover it with 1 or 2 inches of water or chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes, and skim the froth that collects on the surface. Lower the heat to a simmer.
Add the vegetables and basic broth aromatics: a couple of bay leaves, parsley stems, and peppercorns.
Simmer the chicken until the flesh effortlessly slides off the bone with a fork (a visible sign of doneness), about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Take the stockpot off the stove.
Grasp the chicken using a pair of tongs—insert one tong all the way in the cavity and the other near the backbone for a solid grip. Lift the chicken above the water and let it drain for a few seconds, then set it in a shallow dish.
Strain the broth into a food container or dish and set aside to use later.
Divide the chicken into eight total parts (thighs, legs, wings, and breasts). Discard the skin.
After the chicken cools enough, use your fingers or two forks to shred the meat into a mixing bowl. Discard the bones and fat.
How to Make Soup From Boiled Chicken
Season a stockpot of water with kosher salt, to taste. Add the whole chicken and bring the liquid to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add 1 pound of chopped onions and 1/2 pound each of chopped celery and carrots and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
While the chicken simmers, prep the soup ingredients you want to add, and set them aside. Keep starches, such as potatoes and parsnips, in water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
After the chicken has cooked, remove it from the broth with a pair of tongs and set it in a shallow dish.
Strain the broth and then return it to the stockpot. Add the soup ingredients and simmer until cooked through.
Shred the meat from the chicken, then add it to the stockpot along with the finishing herbs—chopped parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Simmer soup for 5 minutes, then serve.
To freeze leftover poached whole chicken, separate the thighs, legs, wings, and breasts. Pat the pieces as dry as possible and pack them in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Store in the freezer up to 6 months.