| |

Kicchiri Kitchen: Primordial Chicken Soup

It’s the dead of winter here in Hyogo, and you all know what that means: influenza! Teaching is one of the absolute worst professions to be in come flu season, as teachers are surrounded by sniffling, coughing, plaguebearing students. I usually interact with between 140 and 200 students a day, and with the added strain of capering back and forth like a dancing monkey for their edutainment, my immune system can always use a boost. So aside from eating a sack of mikans every day, what’s a health-conscious ALT to do?

Whether you’re sick or planning on staying well this winter, the old folk-remedy of chicken soup is a good, tasty way to get heaps of vitamins and nutrition this winter. This being Hyogo Times, though, we’re going to do this properly, and that means making it the right way. So take a Saturday morning off and make some soup with me. This is the old-fashioned way, and while I was hoping to get a full chicken, I couldn’t find one, so I made do with just the bones, which are available at your supermarket. Just ask someone for “tori no gara” and you’ll be on your way.

Homemade Chicken Soup, Japan Style


1 chicken back / neck (がら)

1 pack of 5-8 chicken drumsticks (手羽元 / てばもと)

1 chicken breast, ムネ肉, sliced into 3-cm chunks.

2 onions, peeled and chopped into 3-cm chunks

1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 3-cm chunks

1 stalk celery, leafy top separated, lower stalk cut into chunks

1 clove garlic, whole

Cold water

Parsley, Turmeric, Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Wash the chicken back and neck and drumsticks thoroughly, and put everything in your largest pot. We recommend using a pot that holds at least 3.5 liters of liquid.
  2. Fill the pot most of the way with cold water, enough to cover the chicken completely.
  3. Set the pot on the stove over low heat. You DO NOT WANT the contents of the pot to boil, so keep a close eye and reduce the heat as necessary. Your target is the simmer, which means small bubbles, slow cooking, and lots of flavor. Also, you need to give more time for the fat and impurities in the chicken to float to the surface.
  4. Using a ladle that can be obtained from your nearest 100yen shop, periodically skim off floating impurities and bubbles of oil. Be sure to top the pot off with cold water when you finish, and add the water slowly.
  5. After simmering for about 30 minutes, gently add the celery top, garlic, carrots, and onions. Add also about 1 tsp of parsley, maybe 1/2 tsp of salt and 2-3 shakes of turmeric.
  6. Continue to simmer, skimming fat off periodically and adding enough cold water to cover the ingredients, for three to four more hours.
  7. When you’re finished, remove the solids. You may run things through a strainer if you like. Take whatever meat you can from the chicken and set it aside. You may add the vegetables back in, or start with fresh ones, as most of them have probably contributed all their flavor to the broth.
  8. Put the broth back on the stove. Add the chicken breast and any meat you pulled from the bones. If you add other fresh vegetables, like the lower half of the celery stalk, be sure to cut them into smaller, maybe 1 cm chunks. You may, during this phase, add pasta, dumplings, or whatever, as per your personal cooking preferences.
  9. Simmer this for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are cooked. If you add pasta, we recommend boiling it in another pot, but if you want to boil it in the soup so that that nice chicken flavor gets all through the noodle, well, that’s fine too.

10.  You’ve just made something delicious. Taste it. Season it with fine salt and white pepper. Add some crackers. Whatever.

Serves 4-6. Approx. time: 4 hours, 30 minutes of irregular attention.

Cheater’s Version: Skip steps 1 – 7 and use cubes of chicken or vegetable bullion, one cube per 300 ml of water. I assure you, nothing tastes as good as making it the long way.

Travis Love is the Hyogo Times Food / Jazz contributor. He lives in Aioi, and would love to hear from you in the comments below or via Facebook. He has never released a country music record.

Similar Posts