Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Need a Spring in Your Step? Add Chicken Feet to Your Soup

Chicken soup with escaping chicken foot
It's been cold and I've been making a big pot of chicken soup almost weekly. 

The preparation is straightforward: I put chicken pieces (usually two whole legs, a neck or two and a handful of hearts) into a pot and add chopped onion and/or leeks, minced garlic, cubes of root vegetables (i.e. carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga), cubed potatoes, chopped kale or parsley, unrefined sea salt, fresh ground pepper, dried dill (from my garden) and filtered cold water (almost to the top of the pot).

There's also an ingredient I just started adding this winter, which I buy from Keith Gibson of Grazin' Angus Acres farm: chicken feet. Yes, eating chicken feet is gross within the confines of the American food mentality, but they are indispensable throughout the world for their nutrient content and flavor.

For those with arthritis and joint pain who are taking glucosamine and/or chondroitin supplements, instead of possibly wasting money on compounds that may not get absorbed by our bodies, why not throw a couple chicken feet into a chicken soup and get these nutrients (found in healthy cartilage) in their true form, delivered in a way that our bodies can process? (Calcium and collagen are other benefits of chicken feet and other bones.)

Also, traditional cultures add vinegar to their bone soups, which helps draw out calcium from the bones. A tablespoon or two for a big pot should suffice.

Back to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, return it to a simmer and let it cook for about two hours, which will help it develop flavor. Taste and reseason with more salt and pepper; you'll probably need more salt than you think. Store the soup in the refrigerator; its flavor will markedly improve over the course of several days, so consider not eating it for a day or two, if possible.


Anonymous said...

Rob, do you skim the fat off the soup? A lot or recipes I see state to discard the fat. Wondering what your take is.

Chef Rob said...

If there's just a little bit of fat, I'll leave it. If a solid layer appears after refrigeration, I'll skim a lot of it off, save it and use it as my fat when cooking other dishes.

I will, though, try to skim off any scum that rises to the top during the cooking process; it can impart an off flavor to the soup.

Anonymous said...

do you remove the skin or do you cook the chicken with skin on?

Chef Rob said...

I would NEVER remove skin from chicken or trim fat from beef, pork, lamb, etc. I'll also dip bread into any fat rendered into the pan and eat that as well. All meat that I eat, though, is grass-fed/pastured. The regurgitated lines about fat being bad for us that are spewed by most of the establishment aren't the only views on the subject.