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November 28, 2006

Homemade chicken stock (Recipe: chicken soup)

Chickenstockfrozen

Some people get hit with seasonal affective disorder, suffering in winter when the days are short and light is fleeting.

I get hit with seasonal annoying head colds. One each season, predictable as clockwork, when the weather goes from hot to cold, or from cold to hot. Or, seemingly, for no reason at all.

There is no cure, but there is amelioration: orange juice, hot tea with lemon, and soup made from homemade chicken stock. Trust me. If the stock isn't homemade, the soup doesn't work. I can't say why, exactly, but I know this to be true.

My new Joy of Cooking arrived the other day, and as usual it offers wonderful advice and information about the basics. Here's what it says, in part, about stock: "Stock is an exception to almost every other kind of cooking. Rather than seek out things young and tender, remember that meat from mature animals will be most flavorsome. Remember, too, that instead of making every effort to keep juices within the materials you are cooking, you want to extract and trap every vestige of flavor from them — in liquid form. Starting to cook in cold water, which draws out juices, is the first step on the way to your goal."

My goal is to banish each season's head cold as quickly as possible. I always have homemade stock in the freezer, ready to be turned into soup: the medicinal version, when I need it, and the delicious variations, when I'm feeling great.

By the way, this particular container of stock went into a Thanksgiving leftover soup, along with: some diced onion, leftover roast butternut squash and a raw butternut, 2 cups of cornbread-and-apple stuffing, a big handful of dried cranberries, a thick slice of turkey meatloaf, a cup of water, and a couple of cups of apple cider. Sounds odd, I know, but it all came together.

Chicken soup that feeds a cold

This recipe always works for me (sniffle, sniffle). Use this method to make stock with chicken necks and wings, or a roasted turkey carcass, which you just might have on hand today. Makes a couple of quarts.

Ingredients

1 roaster chicken or stewing hen, 4-7 lbs
1 onion, unpeeled, cut in half
1 large carrot, ends trimmed, cut in half crosswise
1 large stalk celery, root end removed, cut in half crosswise
12 or so whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Directions

Place chicken in a large stockpot with remaining ingredients. Add cold water to cover. Place over high heat until water comes to a boil; then reduce heat to simmer, skim any scum that rises to the top, and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Remove the chicken bits from the pot (it should fall apart, so dig around and make sure you get all the bones out), and remove the veggies, too; then raise the heat to medium. Let the stock boil down until it is reduced by half. Cool for 30 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer into a clean stockpot.

(Note: the incredibly overcooked chicken will have almost no flavor, but you can salvage the larger pieces of breast and thigh meat. Chop them, mix with celery and mayonnaise and a bit of mustard, add black pepper, and you'll have a decent chicken salad. Discard the rest.)

To turn your stock into cold-banishing chicken soup, add fresh chopped carrots, celery, and parsley to the pot (add as much as looks good to you for the amount of stock you have). Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Add your favorite egg noodles or small pasta like ditalini, and cook until the noodles are done. Eat while it's hot; it will make your nose run, but you'll feel better.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

I've had enough of those never-go-away colds and sinus infections to be able to sympathize. It's just a drag when they hit you. I agree, homemade chicken stock is truly a wonderful thing. I make it religiously, at least once a month. I have containers in my upright freezer for chicken scraps, veggie scraps, and beef/pork scraps. When the container gets full, I make a batch of stock. It makes the house smell wonderful, and makes everything you use it in taste better.

I love doing stock ! I began thanks to Nigella Lawson and her stock recipe made out of roasted chicken bones... I will try your recipe though.

I find that removing the meaty chicken as soon as it's cooked; chopping the meat and keeping to one side; then replacing the bones in the broth to continue simmering, gives you tasty chicken without losing any flavor in the chicken broth.

Kalyn, you are super-organized! I always mean to start those containers, but I never seem to do it. I agree, there is something luxurious about making stock, letting the house fill with aroma all day.

Aurore, I've never tried Nigella Lawson's stock recipe (or, I confess, any of her recipes). Now I'll have to check it out.

Pauline, thanks for the good suggestion!

How timely to read your post: I just made my first stock!

I have always meant to make stock but somehow it never culminated in a simmering pot over the stove. But that huge turkey carcass needed to be put to good use, so I have officially made and frozen several bags of stock. Thanks for the recommendation on soups: phase two for the stewpot!

I doubt I will ever look at fennel fronds the same way again...

Hmm. Must be a soup kind of day — I just made pea soup and, since I have some of those containers in the freezer, was thinking of vegetable soup, too.

Janelle, welcome to the world of stock making! It's addictive -- the process of actually simmering the stock for hours is very relaxing, and you'll get used to opening your freezer to find all of those packages of stock just waiting to be used!

Mimi, I loved your post about split pea soup. I make a vegetarian version, substituting barbecue sauce for the ham bone.

I feel better about having turkey stock on the stove about three hours after dinner was served.

Welcome, Kitchenmage! Three hours after dinner? I'm in awe! Now, what will you make from your turkey stock?

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