I’ve been wallowing in a bit of a funk for the last few days. So I decided, as I do when I’m wallowing, to pull myself together and make some chicken soup for dinner.
It starts with making a mammoth pot of chicken stock, using a beautiful free range, organic bird and fresh vegetables. With the stock I can then magic up a soulful, hearty soup, or a casserole, or whatever food of comfort best serves me at the time.
To have a supersized saucepan of broth blipping away on the stove always gives ‘happy me’ a huge psychological advantage over ‘sadface me’.
Chicken stock! Hurrah! In your face, sadface!
Yes I’m a bit of a weirdo but some some reason I do feel oddly prepped to take on the world when armed with some fresh stock. It is such nourishing deliciousness, and is ready and waiting to be transformed.
Sure I could keep those boxes of ‘stock’ in the pantry for such occasions. And I do have them as a backup. But to me there’s something a bit wiffy and grim about them. The liquid inside them doesn’t taste wholesome.
Not like a homemade stock which is coursing with a billion different vitamins, proteins and vegetable nutrients with curative powers (okay, I don’t have a credible source to verify any of this – although there is apparently some truth in the old wives tale that chicken soup is a cold remedy).
Anyway, here’s the rundown on how I made my feel-good stock. Apologies for the vile photography, I was rushing. I really need to take note of Champagne Mia’s tips for photography!
- Wash your (raw) chicken of choice and put in a large pot.
- Add the fresh vegetables you have available (don’t use limp old ones at the back of the crisper) – for this one I used: silverbeet, garlic, beans, carrots, mushrooms, celery and leaves, zucchini, herbs from the garden (bay leaves, rocket, basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary), and a couple of tomatoes from the garden including stalks.
- Throw in a couple of cloves and some peppercorns.
- Add plenty of water, you want to well and truly cover the chicken and veg.
- Bring to boil and then quickly turn down to a very low, blipping simmer. Don’t boil it hard or the stock will be cloudy and yucky.
- After about 30 or 40 minutes-ish, check your chicken. If it is cooked pull it out and let rest for a few minutes. (Leave the stock simmering.)
- Remove all the flesh from the bones and set aside for later.
- Put all the bones and skin back in the pan and bring back to boil.
- Turn back down to the very low, blipping simmer for up to two hours. (Not an exact science, I just cook it for as long as is convenient on the day.)
- Once it’s done, strain out all the veg and bones and discard. And you’re left with a shimmering amber stock.
I like that it is dotted with rich chickeny oil, but if you’re not so into that you can put in fridge overnight and skim off the fat the next day.
But don’t forget, the flavor is in the fat!
I turned half of this batch of stock into our dinner – a yummy Thai-style chicken noodle soup using yellow curry paste, mustard seeds, lemongrass, kaffir lime, tamarind paste, mushrooms, silverbeet and broccoli, along with the chicken meat, hokkein noodles and a splash of coconut milk. It went down well at dinner; our pre-schooler even hoovered it, which is always pleasing.
The remainder is now in six one cup quantities in ziplock bags jauntily perched in the fridge. Like six little soliders ready to go into battle for me when I need them. Whatever I don’t use in the next couple of days will be frozen for later. Booyah!
Loads of people have recipes for making their own stock, all of them a bit different. I like my way, well, because it’s my way and I find it easy! But check these out.
You can supercharge your stock with my two secret ingredients
Sarah Wilson’s yummy stock, similar to mine with lots more cooking time
Essential guide to a proper golden chicken stock by my hero Maggie Beer
Jamie Oliver’s easy stock using leftover carcasses