The secret to a good soup, indeed many other dishes such as risotto or an exceptional sauce, is in the stock.
While there are many quality ready-made options available (check out thestockmerchant.com.au or stocksmatter.com.au) many brands are high in salt and low in flavour. If you're worried about salt intake, check the nutritional information panel before buying.
Making a stock at home is an easy option, cheaper and tastier than you think too, and you can control what goes in it.
Choice home economist Fiona Mair has a simple recipe for chicken stock that just uses 1kg chicken wings, two teaspoons of salt and and two litres of water.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for two to three hours with the lid on. Strain through a fine sieve and discard flesh and bones. Remove the layer of fat when the stock is cold, or leave it on if you're freezing it, to help protect the stock.
She suggests roasting the wings to give a richer flavour or use the carcass of a roast chicken, or even a bought BBQ chicken.
This simple soup, made without vegetables is perfect for Asian noodle soups and chicken dumpling recipes.
In The Cook's Companion (Penguin, $130) Stephanie Alexander adds vegetables to her basic stock recipe: onion, carrot, leek, celery, mushrooms and a tomato as well as a mix of herbs.
She uses one to two carcasses, 500g wings and chicken gizzards for a depth of flavour. She also has recipes for fish and veal stock.
Stock can also be clarified to remove all the particles of fat and other impurities.
Alexander says to whisk two egg whites, half a cup of finely chopped vegetables and your chosen stock together and stir over a moderate heat until the liquid just reaches simmering point. Simmer undisturbed for one hour.
Turn off the heat and remove the "raft" of egg white and vegetables and strain.