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Boosting Soup Flavor

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2009

The usual method for making chicken soup is to cover chicken parts with water and bring it to a boil. In our Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, we found that using ground chicken rather than parts gave our soup significantly more flavor. Could we back up these subjective results with empirical evidence?

Experiment

We made two stocks: one with chicken parts and water and one with ground chicken and water. We sent these stocks to a laboratory to measure the total amount of dissolved solids—an indication of how much flavor was extracted from the chicken—in each.

Results

The stock made with chicken parts and tap water had 3.32 grams of dissolved solids per 100 grams of stock. The stock made with ground chicken and tap water had 5.6 grams—an increase of nearly 70 percent.

Explanation

Small pieces of chicken give up flavor much more readily than large pieces of chicken. Using ground chicken maximizes the amount of flavor extraction in the shortest period of time.