Fall is impending, and most people think of Fall as soup season. I happen to think that every season is soup season.
The first (and most essential) ingredient for a quality soup, whatever the season, is the stock you use.
Don’t fall for the ol’ Swanson stock trick–boxed is not better than canned, and once you taste homemade stock, you’ll never want to go back to either boxed or canned.
Taste aside, homemade stock is so much better for you than boxed or canned. Homemade stock is rife with calcium (from the bones); glycine, which is necessary for creating glucose, detoxifying the body, and wound repair; proline, and essential amino acid; and so many more vitamins and minerals. There’s a reason it’s called “Jewish penicillin”.
If you want to learn more–and I’ve barely even touched on the subject–you need to read the book that got me so interested in making my own stock. My life hasn’t been the same since.
The best thing about chicken stock is that it’s so inexpensive to make. Save your chicken bones, carcasses, etc. in the freezer until you’re ready to make some stock.
All you need are chicken bones, vegetables (scraps or not), water, and black pepper.
If you’re like me, you’ve discovered the glory of a rotisserie chicken.
It’s a whole chicken–fully cooked–and tender and tasty to boot. Plus it’s only about a dollar more than a raw whole chicken–and since I use at least a dollar’s worth of butter and garlic to roast a chicken, so really I’m saving money.
That’s my story. Sticking to it.
So, take the chicken out of the bag.
It’s a beaut.
Now strip it of the skin and meat. Separate the skin from the meat from the bones.
Set the bones aside. Do whatever you want with the meat and skin. (I can’t resist taking a bite of the skin. Call me names, make fun of me, it’s okay, that skin is worth it.)
Now grab your vegetables. I use carrots,
and an onion.
Cut the carrots and celery into thumb sized pieces and the onion into quarters. Place in a crock pot or soup pot.
I will always choose the crock pot–I think it’s because I enjoy The Taste of No Effort as well as Eating On The Cheap.
I have a gas stove, and simmering stock for 12 hours on a gas stove is:
a) so expensive I’d have to start selling my plasma to pay the bill.
b) so needy I wouldn’t be able to leave the house or do much without coming back to check on it, stir it, and generally babysit it.
b) so hot I’d have to crank up the a/c and sit naked on the couch, fanning myself with ice packs. And that’s a sight no one should see. Or envision.
Which brings me back to my original point: the crock pot is an amazing gadget. It’s inexpensive to use, easy to walk away from, and generates very little heat.
So stick that beautiful carcass in the pot on top of all those gorgeous vegetables.
Fill the pot with water.
Shake a bunch of black pepper on there.
Now turn the crock pot on low and walk away for about 12 hours.
Yep–it’s that easy. Often I’ll assemble it all on Friday night and on Saturday morning I’ll have stock I can freeze!
And because you can use the same carcass up to three times, I’ll chunk some more veggies, fill the pot with fresh water and pepper, and let it go for another 12 hours.
Adding a dash of apple cider vinegar helps leach some of the minerals out of the bones, so I’ll usually put a little in the second round of stock.
Okay, so once the stock it done, It should look all liquid-y, and amber-y, and silk-y, and luscious.
Now here’s the hardest part of the whole shebang: straining the out the vegetables.
I like to put a colander in a very large pot,
and then pour the boiling stock and vegetables over through the colander, catching the stock in the pot.
This is when you can pick out the chicken parts and go for Round Two of stock.
I like to let the stock cool down, and then freeze most of it for later.
If you or a child or a partner are sick, this is the perfect base for a soup.
suck it, martha.