I know — I know what you are thinking right now. A chicken soup post in August?
I certainly wasn’t ready, I usually have a supply of frozen chicken bones and parts in my freezer for making stock and I was all out.
However, DH and I both woke up yesterday morning feeling horrible and one half of this couple is flying out to Seattle on Wednesday to record a debut rock album and it isn’t me. Which meant that a pot of Jewish Penicillin needed to be whipped up. They say chicken soup heals all, and I agree with that statement.
Chicken stock is perhaps one of the easiest things you can make, and while it takes a good part of the day the effort is minimal. Plus once you try your own chicken soup you’ll never go back to the canned stuff (or the boxed for stock).
Since I had no bones to use, I picked up a whole chicken and broke it down, trying to expose at much bone as possible and also using the neck and back. If you have a cleaver, I highly recommend using it while breaking down your chicken. After today and the trouble I had butchering with just a chefs knife I’ll be picking one up soon.
If you are wondering why we use bones to make stock, it is because bones contain collagen and when simmered down over a long period creates gelatin. The gelatin gives your stock more body and when chilled your stock will turn to jelly. This is also the best way to skim the fat off your stock.
1 3lb whole chicken
4 celery stalks
2 medium onions, halved
1 bunch parsley
2 bay leaves
6 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon salt
pepper to taste
Thoroughly rinse your chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a cleaver or sharp chefs knife break the chicken down, trying to expose as much bone as possible. Remove any large chunks of fat or skin. Save the neck and back and giblets if included.
Chop your celery and carrots into large pieces and tie the parsley into a bunch with butchers twine.
In a large stock pot – at least 12 quarts – on medium high heat drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of the pot and toss in the chicken, carrots and celery. Brown lightly for about 10 minutes. Add the onions and then 6 quarts of cold water. Add the parsley and bay leaves. Reduce to a simmer.
Make sure not to bring the stock to a boil because the stock will turn cloudy.
After an hour add a tablespoon of salt. At this time you will want to skim the chicken scum and fat from the top. Repeat every 30 to 40 minutes.
The stock should cook for at least 4 hours to develop a nice chicken flavor. After 4 hours, ladle the stock into a sieve over a large bowl. Discard the vegetables, but save the chicken. Most of the flavor will be gone but you can add it to the soup or use it to make chicken salad.
I wanted to develop a richer chicken flavor for my soup, so I put aside 2 quarts of stock to be frozen and used at a later time and the rest in another pot to reduce for another 45 minutes.
At this point, I chopped up some more carrots and celery to cook in the soup and boiled some eggs noodles.
This makes a lot of soup, but it freezes well and will keep for some time. To freeze, I measure in 2 cup increments and place in ziplock bags. After the stock is completely cool, I lay it flat in my freezer.